The Placing of the Venerable Robe of Our Lord Jesus Christ at Moscow (1625)

Commemorated on July 10

      The Saviour's venerable Robe [Slavic "Riza", Greek "himatia", Latin "vestimenta", literally "over-garments"] is not identically the same thing with His seamless "Chiton" [Greek and Slavic "khiton", Latin "tunica", literally "under-garb tunic"] – they are clearly distinct within Holy Scripture: "The soldiers then, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments (odezhdu, vestimenta, ta himatia) and divided them into four parts, to each soldier a part, and the chiton-shirt (et tunicam, kai ton khitona). The chiton indeed was without seam, woven whole from the top down, and so they did say one to another: let us not rend it asunder, but for it cast lots, whose it wilt become. Wherefore was fulfilled the saying in Scripture: they divided My raiment-garb (riza, vestimenta, ta imatia) amongst them, and upon My vesture-garb (imatisme, in vestem, epi ton himatismon) did they cast lots" (Jn. 19: 23-24; Ps. 21 [22]: 18-19).
      According to the tradition of the Gruzinian (Georgian) Orthodox Church, the Chiton-tunic of the Lord was carried by the Hebrew rabbi Elioz from Jerusalem to Mtsketa and at present is beneathe a crypt in the foundations of the Mtsketian Patriarchal cathedral of Svetitskhoveli (the feast in honour of the Chiton-tunic of the Lord is celebrated on 1 October). None of the Mohamedan invaders ever ventured to enroach upon this spot, glorified with a sign by the mercy of God – the Life-Creating Pillar.

      The Robe of the Lord, – actually one of its four parts, the lower portion namely (other parts of the Robe of the Lord are likewise known of in Western Europe: in the city of Trier in Germany, and in Argenteuil near Paris in France), just like the Chiton-tunic of the Lord, came to be in Gruzia. In contrast to the Chiton-tunic, the Robe portion was not kept underground, but was in the treasury of the Svetitskhoveli cathedral right up to the XVII Century, when the Persian shah Abbas I, in devastating Gruzia, carried off with other treasures also the Robe of the Lord. In order to ingratiate himself with tsar Mikhail Feodorovich, the shah in 1625 dispatched the Robe of the Lord as a gift to Patriarch Philaret (1619-1633) and tsar Mikhail. The authenticity of the Robe was testified to by Nektarii, Archbishop of Vologda, also by the Jerusalem Patriarch Theophanes who had come from Byzantium, and by Ioannikes the Greek, but especially also by the miraculous signs, manifest by the Lord through the venerable relic.
      Afterwards two parts of the Robe came to be in Peterburg: one in the cathedral at the Winter Palace, and the other in the Petropavlovsk (Peter and Paul) cathedral. A portion of the Robe was preserved likewise at the Uspenie-Dormition cathedral in Moscow, and small portions – at the Kiev Sophia cathedral, at the Ipat'ev monastery near Kostroma and at certain other old temples. At Moscow annually on 10 July the Robe of the Lord is solemnly brought out of a chapel named for the holy Apostles Peter and Paul at the Uspensky cathedral, and it is placed on an analoi-stand for veneration during the time of Divine-services. After Liturgy they carry the Robe to its former place.
      On this day likewise is proper a service to the Life-Creating Cross of the Lord, since the Placing of the Robe in the Uspensky cathedral in 1625 was done on 29 March, on the day which then occurred to be the Lenten Sunday of the Veneration of the Cross.

© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.