Students in Hamilton’s Russian Studies Program visited Holy Trinity Monastery, a Russian Orthodox church, museum, and seminary in Jordanville, N.Y., on Oct. 12. Michael Perekrestov, director of the museum, led a private tour of the exhibit “Revealing the Divine: Treasures of Russian Sacred Art.” The exhibit on Russian religious imagery features icons, architecture, and symbols of ecclesiastical life in Russia from the medieval period to the present.
After ensuring that the group conformed to proper dress standards—long pants for men and head scarves for women—the brothers invited the group into the church. The interior is impossibly ornate, with every available inch covered in the iconography that the Orthodox believe provides a window into the divine. Religious figures from every era and region of the Christian tradition are depicted in a style largely unchanged over the last millennium. The remains of many saints are kept in a relic box.
Holy Trinity Monastery was founded in the 1930s by refugees fleeing persecution during Stalin’s Great Terror. It is primarily and fundamentally a place of worship (services routinely last four to seven hours and the church, true to Russian custom, has few benches to ensure that attendees remain standing) but it quickly became a beacon of hope for expatriates throughout the United States. There is a publishing house on the grounds, in addition to the Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary. Students visited the bookstore and browsed religion and history books, beeswax products from the monks’ apiary, and the incense, jewelry, and icons the Monastery offers to the faithful.
Three classes were represented on the field trip: Associate Professor John Bartle’s third-term Russian language course, Assistant Professor Jason Cieply’s first-term Russian language course, and Professor Sharon Rivera’s Introduction to Russian Civilization course. A few Russian Studies concentrators also joined the group, as did Associate Professor Emeritus of German and Russian Languages and Literatures Frank Sciacca.