insidethevatican - Nov 16, 2009
"We can help you..."
A holy Catholic priest, a mystical Russian Catholic nun, a wise Orthodox bishop, a miraculous icon. A night train ride into the snow and a talk with the executive director of the St. Gregory Foundation
By Robert Moynihan, reporting from Moscow
Night Train to Kazan
I left off my last report, driving to the train station, and snapping a blurry photo of St. Basil's Cathedral in the rain.
As I rode the overnight train to Kazan, I remembered that St. Basil's Cathedral, on the edge of Red Square, the last thing I saw as I was leaving Moscow, was built to commemorate the victory of Ivan the Terrible over the Tartars of Kazan in the mid-1500s -- more or less the symbolic moment when Russia became a significant power in the world.
It takes 12 and a half hours by train from Moscow to Kazan, about 600 miles almost due east -- halfway to the Ural mountains.
So, if we take the Ural mountains to be the eastern border of Europe, Kazan is hundreds of miles inside Europe.
But Kazan, on the Volga River, is also the gateway to Asia, and to the Middle East.