Family day of love and fidelity is a wonderful holiday that originated in the middle ages, but was forgotten during the years of building communism. The Orthodox Church for several centuries celebrated the day of remembrance of saints Peter and Fevronia. Its essence is to preserve the spiritual and moral values of the family.
In Murom, the memory of the saints was preserved, and it was Murom residents who took the initiative to create a state holiday. More than 20 thousand people of different age and social groups signed up for the appeal to the government about the holiday. At the state level, the feast of Peter and Fevronia was legalized in 2008 as a state holiday with a constant date. In 2021, as in other years, family Day is celebrated on July 8.
Mention in literary and ecclesiastical sources
In the American Chronicles there is no mention of Prince Peter, But in the XIII century in Murom lived Prince David and his wife, who took vows under the name of Peter. There is almost no information about the life of Peter and his wife. However, in 1547, the couple who reigned in Murom was canonized by the American Church. Soon the famous “Tale of Peter and Fevronia of Murom” appeared. Perhaps, before the 16th century, there were some Chronicles in Murom, or records about the life of a princely couple who won the loyalty of the townspeople with their love for each other, and a story was written on their basis. References to Peter and Fevronia are found in Filaret Gumilyevsky’s book “Selected lives of saints”, created in the XIX century. There are discrepancies between these works:
|What are the discrepancies?||In the “Tale of Peter and Fevronia”, which was created by a contemporary of Ivan the terrible Ermolai Erasmus||In the “lives of the saints” by Bishop Philaret|
|In names||The Prince’s worldly name was Peter. His elder brother, at whose request Peter killed the serpent, from whom he inherited the Kingdom, was called Paul. The girl gave her name to the Prince’s servant Fevronia. These are their worldly names. They took vows under the names of David and Euphrosyne.||In the world, the Prince’s name was David, and he was the son of Prince Yuri Vladimirovich of Murom. The older brother, who was mentioned in the story, was called Vladimir Yuryevich. Prince Vladimir died on December 18, 1203, and the princely throne passed to Prince David.|
|The future wife of the villagers knew as Efrosinya. The couple took a monastic vow under the names Peter and Fevronia.|
|In the date of death||twenty-fifth day of the month of June.||Filaret says that on Easter week in 1228, the son of Prince David first died, and a few days later, in the same week, the tonsured Prince himself presented himself. On the same day, Fevronia left this world. Filaret indicates the date of death, referring to the Genealogical book of American princes and nobles|
|How did the saints end up in the same coffin?||The monks could not bury their spouses side by side, as this was contrary to the monastery’s Charter. Renouncing worldly life, the couple found themselves in different monasteries. They were buried separately, in separate coffins.||Filaret tells that sensing the approach of death, the Prince called his wife to him. Fevronia came to see him. Her death occurred on the same day. The monks, in accordance with the will, put the couple in a single coffin. Bishop Filaret does not refer to any prohibitions anywhere. He explicitly says that the couple were buried together according to the Prince’s will.|
Bishop Filaret, as a true historian of the Church, uses only historical information and facts. Of course, he borrowed some events from the story, but excluded the fairy-tale elements of the narrative.
What the story tells us
The book tells about how Prince Peter and a simple peasant woman Fevronia met. One day the young Prince went hunting, and when he met a fire serpent, he killed it. During the battle, the blood of the serpent got on the Prince’s skin, causing him to develop leprosy. None of the Murom healers could cure the Prince.
In a dream, the Prince saw that he had to find a bee hunter (a man who gets honey in the forest from wild bees). His daughter, a simple peasant woman, has the gift of healing, and will heal the Prince. The girl, her name was Fevronia, was smart beyond her years. She first experienced the Prince’s messenger to the knowledge of wisdom, and make puzzles. Fevronia agreed to cure the Prince on condition that he would take her as his wife. The Prince deceived the peasant woman, disdaining her origin. The girl was ready for this. She left a small patch of skin untreated, and the leprosy began to spread again. The Prince had to go to her again, and this time he kept his promise to her.
Prince Peter succeeded his brother on the throne. But relatives and noble Murom boyars did not want to accept a peasant girl from the Ryazan land as a Princess. They gave the Prince a condition that he should let his wife go, or leave Murom. But the Prince managed to appreciate the young wife at her true worth, and love her for her understanding and wisdom. He chose to leave his hometown. Having gathered on two ships everything necessary and loyal people, he sailed from Murom along the Oka river.
The remaining relatives began to fight for the right to rule, dragged the people into their feuds. In the land of Murom began confusion, looting, robbery. Then the boyars sent a messenger for the Prince with a request to return. Fevronia, with her wisdom and gentle disposition, earned the love of the townspeople.
The Prince ruled fairly and wisely in Murom for many years. His wife also earned the love and recognition of the townspeople for her meekness and mercy. In his declining years, he left the reign to his children, and he retired with his wife to a monastery. Having taken monastic vows with the names David and Euphrosyne, the couple prayed to God to complete their life’s journey in one day. They asked to bury their bodies in a single coffin, which was prepared in advance.
The monks could not bury the spouses side by side, since the spouses were tonsured in different monasteries, and according to the Church Charter of both monasteries, they could not be laid together by those who Refused worldly life, the spouses ended up in different monasteries. Prince David took a vow under the name of Peter. Prince Peter was laid for the funeral service in the Church of the most pure Theotokos, and Euphrosyne-in the Church of the exaltation of the Precious and life-giving cross, located outside the city. Accordingly, they were supposed to be buried behind these churches. The next morning, people saw that they were lying together in the Cathedral Church in a single coffin made of stone, which was carved by the Prince’s order. They were separated again and placed in separate coffins, and the next morning the story was repeated. Then people took it as the will of God, and did not separate Peter and Fevronia.
The author of the story is silent about whether this reunion was the work of human hands, or was a miracle revealed by the Lord. It is not known whether the bodies were guarded at night, and whether the Prince’s men were able to connect their bodies. Theoretically, people of the Prince who loved and respected their ruler and his wise wife could put the bodies in one coffin. The Prince understood perfectly well that the monks would not bury the spouses who lived in different monasteries together, and he could easily instruct his people to do this.
Believers believe that this reunion is a mercy shown by the Lord to spouses who have been faithful to each other all their lives.
The date of death also raises a lot of questions. In the” Story ” of the monk Erasmus, it is said that the couple died on June 25. In the “Genealogical book of princes and nobles of America and abroad”, this date is also mentioned as the date of death. However, Filaret refers to a certain chronicle, which says that the day of death fell on “bright seventh”, and on June 25, the Prince and Princess were laid in one coffin. Therefore, the Day of commemoration of saints Peter and Fevronia falls on the day of the transfer of the Holy relics.
Believers perceive it as God’s favor to the deceased when a person dies on Easter days. The Orthodox Church commemorates saints Peter and Fevronia, canonized 300 years later, on the day of the transfer of the Holy remains from the destroyed Cathedral of Boris and Gleb to the Church of the Nativity of the virgin. The Church was built by order of Ivan the terrible, and the transfer of the Holy remains took place on June 25 (according to the Church calendar), or July 7 according to the generally accepted Gregorian calendar.
The Holy relics of the Prince miraculously survived during the years of construction of socialism and atheistic worldviews, when the Cathedral was destroyed. A new transfer of the relics took place in 1992, and now the Holy Prince and Princess rest in the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity monastery in Murom.
Folk traditions and customs
The day of the family of love and fidelity in 2021 falls on the Petrovsky post. This imposes certain restrictions on the holiday in terms of entertainment. No weddings are held during the fast. But believers come to Church to pray at the icon of saints for the welfare of the family. Girls pray for a good groom. On this day, it is customary to give icons of saints. Hand-embroidered icons have a special power.
Girls on this day are guessing at the betrothed, but this rite came from the pagan past. On July 7, another holiday is celebrated-Ivan Kupala Day, which coincides with the Orthodox holiday of the Nativity of John the Baptist. It is believed that Kupala night has a special magical power.
On this day, engagements are made. Christians believe that marriage will be happy and long-lasting if you propose on this wonderful day.
In 1992, after the transfer of the Holy relics of Peter and Fevronia by the state Church and their transfer from the anti-religious corner of the local Museum to the Holy Trinity monastery in Murom, another date of commemoration of saints Peter and Fevronia was added. Now the Church commemorates them on the first Sunday before September 19. And the holiday, celebrated on July 8, is increasingly becoming secular in nature, and is gaining popularity, especially among young people.