St. Petersburg & Moscow Pilgrimage
Moderate – High
Please join us on a pilgrimage to the incredible Baltic Port City of St. Petersburg and Moscow, the cosmopolitan capital of Russia. We will visit St. Catherine’s Basilica, the oldest Catholic Church in the Russian Federation, and the only church with the title of basilica. We will also visit The Church of the Resurrection with its incredible mosaics. We will enjoy daily mass together and grow in faith with our fellow pilgrims.
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All new travel bookings automatically come with our Book with Confidence Travel Plan*—free of charge. This plan gives pilgrims the ability to move their booking to another destination or simply a different available departure date in our vast travel portfolio, no questions asked. They just need to let us know 120 days* before departure and we’ll waive all penalties and get them booked on a new pilgrimage.
*The Book with Confidence Travel Plan allows for any new booking made with Holy Land Travel Center to be changed to a different destination or to another available departure date. Notice of change in travel plans must be given 120 days before departure; standard cancellation penalties will apply for full cancellation without rebooking or changes made within 120 days to departure. Applicable price and eligible promotions for the new tour will apply; if new trip is less expensive, a future travel credit will be issued for the difference in price. Cannot be applied to Passion Play Pilgrimages. No cash value. Credit is fully transferable. Offer reliant on space availability. Effective 10.7.2020. May be withdrawn at any time. Additional restrictions may apply; see Travel Terms & Conditions for details.
Arrive St. Petersburg
Today we arrive to St. Petersburg and upon arrival we are met by our Holy Land Travel Center Representative. After customs formalities, we continue to our hotel for dinner and overnight. Overnight: St. Petersburg (Dinner)
We begin this morning with the celebration of Mass at St Catherine’s Basilica, the oldest Catholic church in Russia. We then embark on a St Petersburg City Tour, including a visit to the SS Peter and Paul Cathedral with its landmark needle-thin spire – the highest in the city and an unusual feature for a Russian Orthodox Church. Inside are the tombs of Peter the Great, Catherine the Great as well as Nicholas II and his family. Here we also see the Trubetskoy Bastion and Prison; this fortress is the oldest building in St Petersburg which saw its last prisoner in 1921. An example of how different architectural styles can be combined is evident in Palace Square. Lining this main square, we see the Baroque Winter Palace and the former Imperial Army building in the classical style among other buildings including one of the largest and oldest museums in the world, the Hermitage. Here we will view Leonardo’s “Madonna Litta”, Titian’s “Penitent Magdalene”, Canova’s sculpture “The Three Graces”, “The Prodigal Son” by Rembrandt as well as works by a hundred other great masters. Overnight: St. Petersburg (Breakfast, Dinner)
Today we travel out to explore the World Heritage listed Summer Palace or the Grand Peterhof Palace which is a series of palaces, grottoes, fountains, cascades and gardens. See also the famous statue of the founder of St Petersburg – Peter the Great, the “Bronze Horseman” built by order of Catherine the Great. In the afternoon we will visit the great colonnaded arms of Kazan Cathedral (built to an enormous scale between 1801-1811) whose design was influenced by St Peters Basilica and Bernini’s colonnade in Rome. The cathedral houses the State Museum of Religious History. Enjoy a visit to the Church of the Saviour on Blood which features over 7,500 square metres of mosaics, claimed to be more than any other church in the world. Overnight: St. Petersburg (Breakfast, Dinner)
Tsarkoe Selo, an estate boasting a large landscaped park centered on the magnificent Catherine Palace. Named after Catherine I, the wife of Peter the Great, the building was reconstructed in the 18th century on a scale to rival Versailles. Continue to St Isaac’s Cathedral designed to hold 14,000 standing worshippers. Admire the dome of St Isaac’s which is plated with pure gold and a dominant piece of the St Petersburg skyline. Overnight: St. Petersburg (Breakfast, Dinner)
This morning we will visit The Church of the Resurrection, also known as the “Savior on Spilled Blood”, which was built in memory of Alexander II who was assassinated in 1881. The highlight of both the interior and exterior of the Cathedral are its mosaic collection based on the paintings of Vasnetsov, Nesterov, and Vrubel. With a total area of 23130 square feet, it is one of the largest mosaic collections in Europe. Continue to visit the Alexander Nevsky Monastery – at the heart of the Russian Orthodox Church. We will hear about its history and challenges particularly through the last 100 years. In the afternoon we depart St Petersburg to board our train to Moscow. On arrival we will be transferred to our hotel for check-in. Overnight: Moscow (Breakfast, Dinner)
Our tour of Moscow proper begins today with Mass at the Church of Saint Louis des Francais – this was the only Catholic Church not closed during the Communist rule. Continue to visit Red Square, mostly famous for the military parades demonstrating to the world the military might of the Soviet Union. View the Kremlin Wall, where from 1917 it became a tradition to bury Soviet heroes by and in the wall. Leaders Joseph Stalin, Leonid Brezhnev, Yuri Chernenko and Yuri Gagarin (the first man in space) are some of the people resting here. The charming Kazan Cathedral on this square is a faithful reconstruction from 1990 after Joseph Stalin had it demolished in 1936. Still by the square, we see the famous-coloured domes of St Basil’s Cathedral (now a museum) as it is commonly known, however the official name is “The Cathedral of the Intercession of the Virgin by the Moat.” The circular stone platform Lobnoe Mesto which stands before St Basil’s was constructed in 1598 and used for proclamations; on religious holidays, a lectern was added making the whole square an open cathedral. The Lenin Mausoleum was erected on the square to house the body of Vladimir Lenin – the Father of the Revolution. Directly opposite the Mausoleum is Russia’s most famous shopping mall – the State Department Store, GUM. The reconstructed Resurrection Gate and the Iberian Chapel house Moscow’s most sacred site with the 17th century miraculous painting of the “Iberian Virgin” held to have healing powers. See the famous Statue of Minin and Pozharsky commemorating Prince Dmitry Pozharsky and Kuzma Minin – the leaders of the militia that repelled the Polish invasion in 1612. The Cathedral of the Assumption or Dormition Cathedral with its five Domes representing Christ and the four Evangelists is the oldest and most important church in the Kremlin. Within its walls coronations and installations have occurred and the tombs of many patriarchs are here. Admire the magnificent Iconostasis and the Holy Doors. On the Eastern side of Cathedral square is the 81–metre Ivan the Great Bell Tower – tallest building in all of Russia for almost 400 years. Ivan the Great ordered a bell tower for the Archangel, Assumption and Annunciation Cathedrals. There are 21 bells in the tower and belfry; the largest being the Assumption Bell weighing 70 tons. In 1918 the last Easter service in the Kremlin took place and the bells of Ivan the Great did not ring again until 1992. Next door is the Kremlin Armory Museum to see the sumptuous collection of jewelry, tableware and icons. A highlight is the large case of Faberge eggs including the famous Siberian Railway egg. Overnight: Moscow (Breakfast, Dinner)
Today we journey north past the outskirts of the city as Russian Orthodox pilgrims have done for centuries to the town of Sergiev Posad and the site of one of the holiest places in all of Russia – the stunning Holy Trinity St Sergius Lavra. It was founded by St Sergius of Ranonezh (c.1321 – 1391) a monk who from childhood seemed destined for holiness. It is said that even as a baby he refused to eat certain foods according to fasting days and that as an almost illiterate child he had a vision from a hooded monk who taught him to read the bible. He set off to live his life here as a monk and was soon joined by others. The monastery grew in importance; pilgrims came to see the relics of St Sergius as they do today, and Orthodox clergy come to study in the lavra’s seminary.The town of Sergiev Posad is also famous for another reason – it is the birthplace of the Russian doll (matryoshka). The town still has its own doll factory and the round painted wooden dolls have become famous and much sought after all over the world. We return to Moscow in time for dinner. Overnight: Moscow (Breakfast, Dinner)
After breakfast, we will enter the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, the largest Catholic church in Russia. The church dates from 1901 but was closed in 1938 as part of the Marxist-Lenin ideology promotion of state atheism. World War II brought the threat of demolition and after the war it was used as a warehouse and a hostel. With the fall of communism in 1991 it was restored to a church in 1996, elevated to a cathedral in 2002 and re–consecrated in 2005; finally, after 75 years of non-religious use this place of worship is now being used for its intended purpose Final afternoon in Moscow at leisure. Overnight: Moscow (Breakfast, Dinner)
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