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Chinese Orthodox make pilgrimage to Russia

MOSCOW (SE): A pilgrim group made up of the descendants of Chinese clergy from the Russian Orthodox Church in China and young members of the Orthodox Church from Harbin and Beijing concluded a three-day visit to Russia on May 9 with a stop at St. Petersburg, the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate reported.

As guests of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, the group was invited to venerate the shrines of the Navy Cathedral of St. Nicholas in Kronshtadt and was then introduced to the past and present of the main church of the Russian Navy on May 7.

After an evening service at the Ss. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Petergof, the group was warmly welcomed by the rector of the cathedral, Archpriest Pavel Kudryashov.

On May 8, the Second Sunday of Pascha, the Chinese pilgrims attended the Divine Liturgy at the Cathedral of the Holy Transfiguration in St. Petersburg, which was celebrated by Metropolitan Varsonofy of St. Petersburg and Ladoga.

He was assisted by Archpriest Nikolay Bryndin, the rector of the cathedral and head of the diocesan department for Church charity and social service; Archpriest Sergiy Kuksevich, the dean of the central district of St. Petersburg and rector of the Cathedral of the Holy Resurrection (Saviour-on-the-Blood); and the cathedral clergy.

In welcoming the guests from China, Metropolitan Varsonofy noted the significance of a shared prayer of Russian and Chinese faithful on the day on which the Church commemorates the feast of St. Thomas, whose name is associated with the beginning of Christian preaching in China.

At the Cathedral of the Life-Giving Trinity of the Izmailovsky Regiment of Life Guards, the pilgrims had the opportunity to venerate relics of St. Thomas.

The rector of the cathedral, the mitre-bearing Archpriest Gennady Bartov, introduced them to the history and shrines of the church and invited them to share a meal with him.

In the evening, the Chinese guests visited the St. Alexander Nevsky Laura and the grave of the head of the ninth Russian Orthodox Mission in China, Father Hyacinth Bichurin (1777 to 1853).

At the Trinity Cathedral, the Chinese group honoured the relics of the Most Orthodox Prince Alexander Nevsky. The guests were then invited to share supper with the local community.

On May 9, the 71st anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War, the delegation was present at a military parade in the Palace Square in St. Petersburg, after which, as guests of Patriarch Kirill, it visited the Church of the Protomartyr and Conqueror George at Kupchino, where the group was welcomed with a Paschal Sticheras sung by the parish rector and clergy.

The group then had the opportunity to venerate St. George’s relics, which are kept in the church. The delegation and the clergy later took part in a short dialogue.

The group left Russia from Pulkovo airport and returned to China via Moscow.

During his visit to China in 2013, Patriarch Kirill met with descendants of the Albazinian Cossacks and invited the Chinese Orthodox Christians to come on a visit to Russia.

In keeping with the patriarchal blessing, the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations, with the support of the director of the Inter-State Development Corporation, Ivan Polyakov, together with the Russian-Chinese Business Council, organised the pilgrimage to Russia for the descendants of the Chinese Orthodox clergy and young Chinese Orthodox.

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