A truly remarkable event took place on January 16, 2011 in Kiev! On this day the exhibition of ”Agapit of Pechersk“ painting by Anastasia Novykh was visited by a record number of people – more than 3 thousand. Kiev Russian Art Museum has never witnessed such an influx of visitors. Such attendance is characteristic, perhaps, only for famed museums of the world and is considered the highest among the most frequent museums in Kiev.

In our hard times, has one ever seen an enormous queue … for a work of art?! An enormous queue for exhibition to see ONLY ONE painting?! Well, Kievans had an opportunity to witness this, and they were equally surprised too. Driving by in their expensive cars, people turned round with amazement, looking at unusually long queue of spectators of different ages that closely encircled the museum building.

A quiet, calm street that wears poetical name of Shelkovichnaya (from the Russian “shelk” meaning “silk”) located not far from Presidential Palace became animated. One could hear long-forgotten folk speech, clear voices of children and lively conversation among young people there.

A curious observation could be made that people standing in this unusual queue for the exhibition were actually well-wishing ones (their eyes spoke for them) and they all seemed to be happy to have finally reached the long-expected goal. And it was no wonder! Many of them in fact came from afar: different parts of Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, Kazakhstan, Hungary, Germany, and even Japan. I frankly admit that in all my life I’ve never seen such an intertwining of people of different ages, social statuses, and religious beliefs, such unanimity and mutual respect for each other among people from different countries who in fact saw each other for the first time. Such an observation inspired one with positive mood right from the start.

On that day, the sun was shining brightly to the joy of Kievans, as the weather had been gloomy for quite a while. The antique mansion, which was built at the turn of the twentieth century by a famous Russian nobleman and patron of health and education, a councillor of State Semen Semenovich Mogilevtsev, seemed new. The sun enriched the mansion’s umber color adding particular solemnity and stateliness to it, marking it out from other buildings. This day appeared to be a special one for this mansion ? the day of its revival to former national glory and to noble deeds done for people and for the sake of people that had been performed in its mysterious rooms in the past.

This solemnity seemed to be preserved not only in the outside appearance of the building, but also within its magnificent ”White hall” that in its cleanness shone as if a lotus flower. The painting ”Agapit of Pechersk“ by Anastasia Novykh was positioned in the place of honor. A bouquet of white lilies was placed beneath it. As I chanced to find out later, after the event was over, the magnificent bouquet of flowers was taken to Kiev Pechersk Lavra by organizers of the exhibition. It was gratefully laid by the reliquary with relics of Saint Agapit of Pechersk. Or to be more precise, it was placed in the vase with the assistance of monks, who look after the Near Caves. When I saw the painting ”Agapit of Pechersk“ by of Anastasia Novykh I was taken completely aback. It was animate! I was fortunate to have visited many museums in different countries: Old Masters Picture Gallery in Dresden, Museo del Prado in Madrid, Peterhof Grand Palace (near St. Petersburg) with its splendid Picture Hall. I saw mysterious smile of La Joconde in Parisian Louvre. But nowhere have I seen such a portrait as ”Agapit of Pechersk“ with its truly animate eyes that cause you to feel the presence of a real man beside you!

The name Agapit or Agapitus is derived from the Greek name (Agapetos) meaning “beloved”, “divine love”. And according to book sources a sacred plant for the name of Agapitus is lily. By the way, lily is a special flower in symbolism of many peoples of the world. For instance, lily is one of the flowers of the Virgin Mary in Christianity. According to legend on the Day of Annunciation, archangel Gabriel appeared before the Virgin Mary with paradisiacal branch (of white lilies) in his hand. It’s truly amazing – Agapit, who had lived almost a thousand years ago and done so much for people, healing their bodies and souls, was looking at me from the portrait, his spiritually-featured face lit with a kind, soft smile. His unforgettable animated look seemed to talk to every person by means of an unknown language of spiritual purity. I realize now why coming to the portrait people could not tear themselves away from it. It was indeed a silent heart-to-heart talk between man and true Saint.

The same happened to me. When I came to the portrait, I felt as if I mentally immersed into something deep and inner of mine. I had such a feeling that I wasn’t actually standing in the hall filled with people but in some solitary restful place where there were only Agapitus and I. And time seemed to stop. It’s a staggering feeling! I don`t know how much time I spent at the portrait, probably, quite a bit. Organizers of the exhibition (who indeed made a splendid festival for souls with an excellent organization) politely appealed to the public with proposal to continue celebration, for instance, in Kiev-Pechersk Lavra, as the queue near the museum was growing more and more. I didn’t feel like leaving, of course, but there were no objections either, because a short time ago I was the one waiting in the line anticipating unusual events, dreaming to get to the exhibition to see the unique painting of all time! What happened to me, within my soul at the exhibition, astounded me by its realness and depth. It’s really hard to put it in words! This unforgettable celebration of culture and art surpassed all my expectations…

by Ilya Glebov
”Pantaleon the Healer” newspaper, Kiev