Sometimes the simple combines with the complex to create something miraculous. That happened in the creation of a moment at St. Basil’s cathedral in Moscow when a quartet of male Russian voices soared and echoed throughout the gold and red of the icons.
It was a moment as simple as a song and as a vast an ancient faith. That moment defined holiness, said the Rev. Patricia Sebring.
The impromptu concert was the day before the 450th anniversary of St. Basil’s, the quintessential Russian landmark on Red Square with the multi-colored onion-shaped domes.
Basil was one of Russia’s holy fools, refusing to wear clothes even in the harshest of Russian winters. He spoke truth to power, speaking his religious convictions to the tyrannical Tsar Ivan the Terrible.
In an article on the anniversary event, the Moscow Times reported that “Ivan, whose gory purges claimed tens of thousands of lives, feared St. Basil as ‘a seer of people’s hearts and minds.’ The tsar personally carried Basil’s coffin to the gravesite.”
The tour of St. Basil’s, in which every surface is covered in liturgical decoration and sacred icons, was part of a larger tour of Moscow, a city that was first mentioned in history books in 1147. Every generation since then has left an architectural and cultural mark on the capital of Russia.
Known as “the third Rome,” Moscow today reportedly is home to more millionaires and billionaires than any other city in the world. Commentators here say, only half jokingly, that if something is not done about the number of people moving into Moscow with their cars, in just a few years time, there will be more cars than there is space on the streets.