Saint Peter and Feronia
On 8 July we are celebrating the feast day of the Holy Prince Peter and Holy Princess Fevronia. They take a special place in the communion of Orthodox saints by exemplifying a model of the relationship of love in a Christian marriage. Their married life continues to provide inspiration for writers and artists, and for all the people aspiring to a happy marriage and family. In Russia, the feast day of St. Peter and Fevronia is celebrated as a public holiday, the All-Russian Day of the Family, Love, and Fidelity.
The marriage of Saint Peter and Fevronia was portrayed in the classic work of medieval Russian literature titled “Tale of Peter and Fevronia of Murom”. It was written in the mid-16th century fifty years before the famous Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare. As distinct from most romantic plots, the Tale is a story of the progression of their relationship over a lifetime in the face of adversity. It describes the doubts and the difficult choices that Peter, the son of the Prince of Murom had to make to marry Fevronia, daughter of a peasant from a village in Ryazan Gubernia, the gentry’s refusal to accept their unequal marriage, and their banishment from the city of Murom, and many other obstacles they faced and overcame to live a life of piety and charity. This is a beautiful and moving story rich in allegory and metaphor.
Recently, an animated version of the story was released and is now available for viewing with English subtitles.
Peter and Fevronia are considered the patron saints of marriage and family and are deeply revered at the Convent of Saint Elisabeth. Many young parishioners come to the Church of the Reigning Icon of the Mother of God to pray in front of the icon of the saints and ask for God’s help in finding a spouse and building a strong family. The lives of Saint Peter and Fevronia have inspired the artisans from our crushed stone workshop to create a mosaic icon of the saints from thousands of pieces of crushed stone attached to a marble substrate.
Like Romeo and Juliet, Sts. Peter and Fevronia faced many obstacles that emanated from people’s prejudice and limitations. Their long and happy marriage was built on love; they worked hard to make it grow on a par with God’s ultimate love. Many centuries later, their great feat continues to be a powerful motivation for all of us.
Those Orthodox Christians who follow the Julian calendar are about to start the shortest period of fasting of the liturgical year on the 14th of August - the Dormition Fast. It lasts only for two weeks.