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In the days of 20-21 of November, a national congress entitled "The Holiness of Motherhood" took place in Nizhny Novgorod, dedicated to pro-family politics.  Mrs. Ewa Kowalewska, the European Coordinator of the Peregrination of the Czestochowa Icon, was a guest speaker at this symposium. 

During her talk, which was conducted in Russian, Mrs. Kowalewska explained the expectations of the peregrination program, its goals, and the achievements of the great campaign in defense of life, entitled "From Ocean to Ocean."  She presented photos from twenty different countries, which Our Blessed Mother in Her Icon has already visited, emphasizing the fact that close to two million people have prayed during this pilgrimage of the Icon, which has already travelled over thirty thousand kilometers (around seventeen thousand miles), and that nearly two hundred fifty thousand flyers have been distributed in fifteen different languages.  Mrs. Kowalewska also underlined the great significance of the fact that this is the first time in history that the Icon is peregrinating from the East to the West, beginning its pilgrimage in Vladivostok and the Orthodox Russia.  This has great implications for the renewal of the faith, especially now - in the Year of Faith, because a great rebirth is currently underway in the East.  The Icon of Czestochowa was chosen unanimously for this peregrination, as one of the oldest, which had been written by St. Luke according to tradition, and has been known and honored far and wide, both, in the East - in the Orthodox Church - as the "Invincible Defender (Victory)," as well as in the West - in the Catholic Church - as the "Black Madonna."

The seminar given by Mrs. Ewa Kowalewska sparked great interest, even among the media outlets.  The Russian Newspaper, one of the biggest news media in Russia, has published some information pertaining to the conference:  http://rg.ru/2012/11/21/reg-pfo/ikona-anons.html.

kongres2The following day, on November 22, the participants of the congress took part in a pilgrimage to the town of Diveyevo, where a large Orthodox convent is located.  It is currently a great Russian Orthodox spiritual center that is flourishing at a fast pace.  St. Seraphim of Sarov was the spiritual leader of the Diveyevo convent towards the latter part of his life and he claimed that this place has been singled out by the "Theotokos" (Mother of God), who comes here every night.  In order to protect the center, he ordered that it be surrounded by a canal, which despite of various historical perturbations has been preserved until today.  After a period of destruction caused by the Communists, who have thrown the Sisters out of the convent, and have transformed the Orthodox Church into a local House of Culture with a disco bar for the youth, this site is undergoing a fast rebirth and is becoming a most beautiful lavra – a cluster of five churches and many other buildings.  The tomb of St. Seraphim of Sarov remains the focal point of this lavra.  It is here, that the Orthodox pilgrims come to honor the saint's holy relics and ask him for intercession.  Indeed, it was St. Seraphim who foretold in his prophetic vision that if Russia does not return to God, it will be flooded with a great river of blood, but afterwards will be given a time of renewal of faith.  In order for this to happen, the intercession of the Blessed Virgin in the Icon of Czestochowa must be invoked.  This prophecy became the impetus for the peregrination of the Icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa throughout the world – "From Ocean to Ocean" – in defense of life.

St. Seraphim died on February 2, 1833 in Sarov.  He is the last saint of the Russian Orthodox Church canonized before the fall of the Russian Tsars.  He is one of the key historical figures of the Russian Orthodox spirituality.

The Sisters actively manage this holy place.  They run a school and a health clinic, and also serve the numerous pilgrims who visit this holy site.  In the very center of this haven, a foundation for the Church of the Annunciation is at present being erected.  According to the words of St. Seraphim, it was Our Lady's request that this church be built here.  Currently, there are 480 religious sisters living and working in Diveyevo.

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