PARIS: December 1, 2005

A Pilgrimage of the Russian Church Abroad Visits the Orthodox Holy Sites of Paris

With the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus, a pilgrimage was made by members of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia to the holy sites of Paris on the first days of Advent, November 27-30. This group consisted of the Rector of Holy Transfiguration Cathedral in Los Angeles, Mitred Protopriest Alexander Lebedeff, Secretary of the Commission on talks with the Moscow Patriarchate; Protopriest Victor Potapov, Rector of St John the Baptist Cathedral and member of the Pre-Council Committee for the IV All-Diaspora Council; another member of the same Committee and Personal Secretary of the First Hierarch, Priest Serafim Gan, and others.

During their visit to Paris, the pilgrims visited Lesna Convent, Protection Monastery in Bussy, Three Hierarchs' and St Sergius Podvories [representative centers], St Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and the Russian Cemetery at Ste-Genevieve-du-Bois.

At St Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, the pilgrims were greeted by His Eminence Archbishop Gabriel, Exarchate of the Russian Orthodox Churches in Western Europe, and prayed at Divine Liturgy. During a meeting with the Exarch and His Eminence's aides, Protopriest Alexei Struve and M Sollogub, the pilgrims' itinerary and other church matters were discussed.

At Lesna Convent, whose founding was blessed by St John of Kronstadt and St Ambrose of Optina, the pilgrims venerated the miracle-working Lesna Icon of the Mother of God and the relics of Holy Martyr Athanasius, Hegumen of Brest, and those of other saints. Abbess Makrina and the local clergy warmly greeted the pilgrims and asked questions relating to the discussions between the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and the Moscow Patriarchate and the upcoming All-Diaspora Council.

At Protection Convent in Bussy, headed by Abbess Olga, the pilgrims prayed at the tomb containing the uncorrupt relics of recently-glorified St Aleksei of Yuzhinsk, who is particularly venerated by Russian Orthodox Christians in Western Europe, and viewed the Convent cathedral, the old Protection Church, the Chapel of St Seraphim of Sarov and the new refectory. The nuns asked that the pilgrims relay their regards to His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus and the monks of Holy Trinity Monastery and ask their holy prayers. The two monastic communities had jointly published Zhitiya russkikh svyatykh (The Lives of Russian Saints), by Nun Taisia, in the 1980's.

At Three Hierarchs Podvorie, whose church is painted by the great icon-painter Monk Gregory Krug, the pilgrims prayed during Divine Liturgy on the feast day of St Paisius Velichkovsky; and at the Russian Cemetery at Ste-Genevieve-du-Bois, they visited the graves of clergymen and noted figures of the Russian diaspora.

At St Sergius Podvorie, Protopresbyter Boris Bobrinsky told the pilgrims of the holy icons and relics of the church and of the history and current life of the Podvorie and its Theological Institute.