Nun Agnia [Countess Anna Orlova-Chesmenskaya]

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Barbara
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Nun Agnia [Countess Anna Orlova-Chesmenskaya]

Postby Barbara » Sun 19 October 2014 1:58 am

This is not a Saint, but apparently, a righteous nun.
Today's Calendar has her listed as being from Novgorod and reposing this day in 1848.
Question is : does anyone know anything about her ?
I tried looking her up on the internet and could find nothing but repeated mentions of the calendar date.
I was curious to know more.

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Re: Nun Agnia [Countess Anna Orlova-Chesmenskaya]

Postby Barbara » Sun 19 October 2014 4:04 am

Aha ! This IS who I had first thought : the same Countess who was devoted to Starets Feofil of the Kiev Caves !
I knew her name was very familiar and immediately thought of this noblewoman. However, the date of repose didn't seem exactly right. It was, after all, 5 years before the repose of Feofil [October 28, 1853, Old Style].
More, why at Novgorod ? That was what made me assume it was not the same woman.

However, the Countess who was assigned by the great Elder to wash age-old burned, sticky pots and pans in
the Dnieper River, and who complied cheerfully, amazing even her maid [I remember all this story by heart ]
must have retired from society. Apparently, Feofil's chronicler did not record the followup to the anecdote about Countess Orlova-Chesmenskaya.

We need Alexander Kuzmin here! I am sure there ARE Russian language sources which could fill in what happened to Countess Anna Alexeevna in later life. To which convent did she go, and why so far away ?

[By the way, there was also a Nun Agnia who figures prominently in the same book. But this was a German Lutheran, Anna Grindling, who converted to Orthodoxy.She became treasurer of the Florovsky Convent in Kiev. Following the prediction of Feofil, that Nun Agnia was selected as Abbess. She was humble and thoughtful. The Starets tonsured her into the great Schema with the name of Barbara. She reposed September 30, 1865. ]

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Re: Nun Agnia [Countess Anna Orlova-Chesmenskaya]

Postby m. Evfrosinia » Mon 12 October 2015 5:52 pm

Nun Agnia Orlova-Chesmenskaya was a well-known ascetic. I remeber St. Philaret speaking about her. Besides St. Feofil she was close to the foundress of the Novodevichiy convent in St. Petersburg, Abbess Feofania (Gotoctseva) and her assistant, the nun Varsonofia, who had been a sort of adopted daughter of hers. They were also very respected ascetic monastics of 19th century Russia.

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Re: Nun Agnia [Countess Anna Orlova-Chesmenskaya]

Postby Barbara » Thu 15 October 2015 2:39 am

REALLY ? St Philaret told you about Nun Agnia ?? That's really neat to hear. For me, she is nearly a mythical figure because of having read the St Feofil book so many times that each character in it has become almost immortalized for me.

That is so great to get an answer to my question, which languished there for nearly a year ! Thanks so much, Mother Evfrosinia !

Would you have any more details in a book somewhere that when you have a moment some day, you could check to see about Nun Agnia's early life and entire path.

I didn't realize that she was a well-known ascetic ! That gives so much more dimension to the story of her visits to St Feofil. I wish there were a "sequel" so we could follow what happened to some of the characters mentioned as they continued their lives, in fact. The course of some, such as Feofil's cell mates, are explained all the way to their repose, but others, like the future Nun Agnia, are included as isolated vignettes.

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Re: Nun Agnia [Countess Anna Orlova-Chesmenskaya]

Postby m. Evfrosinia » Thu 15 October 2015 11:52 am

One of the early "Orthodox Word"s published by Platina featured a biography. I'll try to find it. There is a "life" in Russian as well.

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Re: Nun Agnia [Countess Anna Orlova-Chesmenskaya]

Postby Barbara » Sun 7 February 2016 3:36 am

Thanks, Mother Evfrosiniya. I didn't see your reply.

Yes if you could find that Orthodox Word and also the Russian article which might be more complete, that would be terrific.

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Re: Nun Agnia [Countess Anna Orlova-Chesmenskaya]

Postby Barbara » Wed 19 October 2016 3:27 am

As it is again the repose day of Nun Agnia, I started some research. I had a few weeks ago at random pulled out a Russky Palomnik magazine from a dusty corner. I opened the issue, number 27 from 2003, to a picture of St Feofil, and realized the article was about Nun Agnia ! However, it's all in Russian, so I could figure out only something about a Yuriev Monastery near Novgorod which Nun Agnia was involved in assisting.
This unexpected find spurred me to look online for more details. I found the Russian biography, written in the mid-19th century, available at abe books and a few other places. Again only in Russian, unfortunately for us English-speakers. ** Maybe it will be translated if interest picks up in her life ! **

Apparently, there seems to be increasing awareness about Countess Anna Alexeevna in Russia. Here is a not-so-well translated article from Romanov News to which I added paragraphing to enhance readability :

http://yourievsky.net/upload/Romanov_News_94.pdf

"Anna Alexeievna Orlova- Chesmenskaya

Anna A. Orlova- Chesmenskaya may today not be so well known, if one can say she is known at all, but that is a pity as she was one of the most famous Russian philanthropists in her time - kind of a prelude to Grand Duchess Elisabeth Feodorovna. This year it celebrated 230 years since her birth. Anna Alexeievna Orlova-Chesmenskaya, with her Catherine II maid of honor sign and the last painting is from 1838. Anna A. was the Patron of the Church of the prophet Elijah on Ilyinke and in 1825 on the death of Emperor Alexander I, as a chamber-maid of honor to his wife, Empress Elizabeth Alexeevna, she established at the altar of the church a memorial plaque of white marble with the inscription: "Remember them, Emperor Alexander I, Count Alexis, Prince Dimitri, 1825 ". After Emperor Alexander and Empress Elisabeth's death, Anna A. bequeathed her entire fortune to five churches.

Countess Anna A. Orlova- Chesmenskaya - the only daughter of General-in-Chief Count Alexei G. Orlov-Chesmensky (1735-1807), was born 2 May, 1785, when her father was fifty years old. Her mother Evdokia Nikolaevna Lopuchin died, when Anne was just one year old. Left without mother, Anna was strengthened in faith. Raised in the strict rules of Orthodoxy, girl was showing special love for God, constantly observing the church statutes. Already in the age of eight, the girl was presented to Empress Catherine II, and she made her a maid of honor, awarding Anna her diamond cipher. Later, Anna Orlova-Chesmenskaya was maid of honor of to Maria Feodorovna (wife of Emperor Paul I), Empress Elisabeth Alexeievna (the spouse of Emperor Alexander I), Empress Alexandra Feodorovna (wife of Nicholas I) and was awarded the portraits of their Majesties, to be wore on her chest. During the coronation of Emperor Nicholas I, the Countess received the Order of St. Catherine and in 1828 she accompanied the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna on her journey across Russia and abroad.

Anna's father Count Alexei G. Orlov-Chesmensky - brother of Prince Grigory Orlov - was a retired General, living in Moscow, in his house near the Donskoy monastery (now Alexandria Palace), engaged in his favorite activity - horse breeding, developing the horse breed known as the Orlov Trotter. She was only 22 years old when her father died on 5 January 1808 (OS December 24, 1807) and she became heir to her father's vast estate. Rejecting offers from the highest-ranking suitors, Anna after the death of his father went on a pilgrimage to the monasteries, renouncing secular life, though she did not accept vows as a nun...
Anna was looking for a spiritual mentor. Metropolitan Seraphim pointed the young countess to the Archimandrite Photius (Peter Spassky). In 1820, they became acquainted, and the meeting determined the entire life of the countess until her death. He became governor of St. George's Monastery in Novgorod province and Anna bought a house nearby for permanent residence. She lived a most severe monastic life there, while spending a fortune on restoring the monastery. On relations Archimandrite Photius and Anna has been written and invented even more. Many were unable to avoid bias, including A.S. Pushkin who wrote well known scabrous epigram about the Countess and Archimandrite.

In her estate - at the village of St. Michael - the Countess started the construction of the Church of Archangel Michael. Archbishop Dmitrov Augustine, manager of the Moscow Metropolitan, said: "They asked us from Her Excellency the Countess Anna A. Orlova-Chesmenskaya to build in her neighborhood in the village Church of St. Michael the Archangel, instead of a wooden church and with two chapels: the first - to St. Nicholas, and the second - to Saints Cosma and Damian. The Church of Archangel Michael in the village of St. Michael (now Domodedovo district) was built in 1822 - 1823 years, and was consecrated in 1824. Now the left aisle of the church is listed in the name of the Holy Myrrh-bearers.

Countess Anna Alexeevna Orlova-Chesmenskaya throughout her life continued assist financially and materially to many needy peasants, monasteries and churches. Countess Anna A. Orlova-Chesmenskaya died in 1848, and was buried in the St. George Monastery."

*****************

PS - It came as a surprise that she was closely related to THAT Orlov.

Also, I had placed her all this time as living in Ukraine. I didn't imagine that someone from the early 1800s, even a noblewoman, would make relatively frequent pilgrimages to the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra from so far away.
And - the Novgorod connection has at last been clarified. Anna Alexeevna was born in Moscow but reposed near the Yuriev Monastery.

I would like to get a list of the 5 Churches upon which Nun Agnia lavished her immense wealth. Besides the Yuriev Monastery's Churches - quite pretty in the Russky Palomnik pictures - and the St Michael Church, which others ?

Then, also, to learn whether the pious Countess actually became a nun toward the end of her life. Or lived like one without taking vows.


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