Venerable Sergius of Radonezh was a medieval Russian monk, a spiritual leader who became one of Russia's most venerated saints. He was an ascetic who taught his followers to live simple lives, supported by their own labour. He died on 25th September (now his feast day) in 1392 and was canonised in 1452. The Roman Catholic Church also recognises him as a saint.
The idea of the New Jerusalem comes from the Book of Revelations in the Bible. It is the recreation of Jerusalem as a home of the saints.
The concept had a special meaning in relation to Moscow. After the fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans in the fifteenth century, Orthodox Christians were looking for a new centre for their faith. Soon Moscow began to be known as the Third Rome. In 1510 the Russian monk Philoteus of Pskov wrote: "Two Romes have fallen. The third stands. And there will be no fourth." As this quote shows, Russia being the Third Rome had apocalyptic rather than imperial overtones. The Orthodox Church at this time felt that its faith - the true faith - was under great threat, both from the Ottoman Empire and from the 'heretical' Catholics. Moscow was therefore seen as the last stronghold of the true religion. This embattled feeling was obviously revived by Napoleon's invasion.
Worshippers stand during Russian Orthodox Church services, unlike in the Western Church. Traditionally men stand on the right and women on the left. Communion is also taken standing rather than kneeling; the bread and wine are offered together on a spoon.