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The purchase of the 'Wagner Farm'  110 years ago marked the birth of St. Tikhon's Monastery.

The Wagner farm, a "large farm not far from Mayfield (half an hour ride by train) — 82 acres of land with all amenities (8 room house, a stable, banya i.e., sauna) a good orchard (180 apple trees) and a beautiful stream” was purchased along with "two milk cows, one bull, three dozen chickens, two dozen ducks and [4] work horses" as well as 'primitive' farm equipment was purchased for $2600 on June 26, 1905.  This was the physical 'birth' of St. Tikhon's Monastery.

"The first pilgrimage to the newly-purchased site was held on July 18/31, 1905, when His Grace St. Raphael (Hawaweeny), of Brooklyn, the vicar Bishop of the North American Diocese, traveled from New York to South Canaan, to dedicate and bless the newly acquired orphanage building (farm-house) and the site for the future construction of the monastery corpus (cells) and church...the participants traveled by foot from Mayfield over the mountains to the site in South Canaan, a distance of over ten miles..All the transportation was done by horse and buggy and large groups of people in the 50’s and 100’s would start out about 5:30 A.M. It would take them three to three and one half hours to walk."

The day before the the Pilgrimage, Bishop Raphael arrived and the first service was held on the property: "That evening the Bishop gave the blessing for the celebration of the first Vigil service in the small makeshift chapel that had been created in the orphanage building by the staff. The service was well attended by the various clergy who had assembled for the dedication, the staff and the children of the orphanage, some of the local Orthodox farmers...There are no words to describe the tremendous spiritual joy that must have occurred in the hearts of all those present for this awesome event in the history of the Holy Orthodox Church in America."

On July 19/31 Matins was held at 8am as the first Pilgrims began to arrive.  "The first Hierarchal Divine Liturgy on the monastery site was celebrated by His Grace St. Raphae [with others assisting including  the future saints Father Alexander Hotovitzky]...Over one hundred Orthodox pilgrims traveled the long and tiresome route through the mountains from Mayfield to witness the first pilgrimage to the monastery orphanage site..Those reporting these events mention that on the evening of Sunday, July 30/17, the service of St. Tikhon of Zadonsk was performed, and the same saint was again invoked at a prayer service after the liturgy the next day, Monday, July 31/18. They give no explanation or reason for this, and it was not a date when that saint was normally commemorated. This apparently was done in anticipation of the request and decision a few days later to dedicate the monastery to the patronage of St Tikhon of Zadonsk. Most likely this would have been done with Archbishop Tikhon’s blessing."  

Monastery Founder Heiromonk Arseny spoke these words: "A place that not long ago was barren, now will be the place for the cornerstone of that most needed by Russian America -- a monastic community dedicated to the enlightenment and spiritual awakening of these lands; and an orphanage, a haven dedicated to comfort the deep sorrow of poor and homeless children. Truly a place of boundless joy! But what awaits this Holy Habitation in the future?"  Over a century has answered that question and we see it with our eyes today.





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