The patronal feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos of Nicula Monastery in Cluj County gathered over 20,000 people who participated in the religious services. The 17th-century wonderworking icon of the Mother of God turned Nicula Monastery into a famous place of prayer and pilgrimage.
Thousands of people participated in the pilgrimage “Uphill to Nicula”
A pilgrimage started on Sunday at noon from the Church of Saint Nicholas in Gherla. After the Divine Liturgy, the local Metropolitan Andrei of Cluj, Maramureș and Sălaj, together with his guests Bishop Veniamin of Southern Bessarabia and Assistant Bishop Makary of Glavinitsa from the Bulgarian Metropolis of Ruse, led the pilgrims to Nicula Monastery.
The pilgrimage took about three hours, during which thousands of people chanted hymns and prayed to the Mother of God.
Along the route, the procession stopped at the Holy 40 Martyrs Monastery at Gherla Memorial, where the martyrs from the communist prisons were commemorated. At the same time, prayers were offered at the churches and memorial crosses along the route, as locals welcomed pilgrims with water, cake and basil.
Upon entering the courtyard of Nicula Monastery, the pilgrims were welcomed by the monastic community.
After the hierarchs venerated the wonderworking icon of the Mother of God, Bishop Veniamin thanked the pilgrims for their participation: “You are the promoters and confessors of joy because every time you make the pilgrimage to the Mother of God, you are filled with joy.”
The Lamentations of the Dormition resounded at Nicula Monastery
At 9:30 p.m., the icon of the Mother of God was brought to the outdoor altar, being flanked by young people dressed in folk costumes.
The Lamentations of the Dormition of the Mother of God were sung alternately by the clergy, monastics and believers.
Ending the Lamentations, His Grace Bishop Makary said that “the Mother of God is the sermon and the icon of the Church. She carried the Saviour in her arms and gave Him to the world ever since, which makes the Holy Church to this day carry Christ and share Him with the faithful.”
The icon of the Mother of God was carried in procession around the church and placed in the basement chapel.
The patronal feast gathered people from Romania and abroad
On Monday morning, the three hierarchs concelebrated at the Divine Liturgy at the outside altar.
“The difficulties are many, so are the troubles and trials, and we come here, to the Icon of the Mother of God, to tell her the troubles we have. But, of course, we turn to the Mother of God because we know that her prayers to the Lord Jesus Christ are effective,” the Metropolitan of Cluj said in his homily after the gospel proclamation.
The Metropolitan of Cluj also recalled that “the Saviour teaches us to be optimistic amid troubles and hardships, and, looking at His cross, to become victorious. So, no matter how many troubles and trials, we must not lose our optimism! With this optimism, we must leave the monastery, and may the pilgrimage to Nicula be profitable to you.”
The service was attended by over 20,000 pilgrims from all across Romania and other countries.
Check out more pictures here.
Photography courtesy of the Metropolis of Cluj / Darius Echim
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