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GENEVA: May 22, 2008
Address to the Descendants of the Russians of Gallipoli And Members of the Diaspora in the Opening and Blessing of the Gallipoli Memorial

Christ is Risen!

This exceptionally important event was held in the most hospitable of circumstances and became a great celebration. The significance and uniqueness of the reestablishment of the cemetery of Gallipoli, which had completely disappeared off the face of the earth, lies in the fact that in this most crucial time for Russia and its Diaspora, an act of full reconciliation is once again being performed, this time in a historical sense: modern Russia is recognizing its Russian Diaspora. She takes to heart the podvig of those who went to foreign lands with dignity, ensured the survival of Russian tradition for future generations, for their own descendants, and today, for Russia herself. Their spiritual and moral podvig bore fruits which Russia now enjoys.

I wish to thank everyone for their participation in the celebrations. This was a particularly joyful moment for us, meeting and participating together in the ceremonies of this remembrance of such a difficult time in Russian history. The presence of representatives of society from Russia has given form to the living legacy which was cherished for ninety years as an entire layer of Russian history.

We will never forget how the night before our arrival we were all together on a ship which traveled along the Bosphorus precisely at those points where our parents were. It was especially moving to sense that we are following their itinerary. The next day we arrived on the campsite of Gallipoli, where whole sections of the Russian Army under General Wrangel and the direct authority of General Kutepov stood. Here, in addition to purely military establishments, there were churches, medical clinics, schools and nurseries formed, and all sorts of educational measures were launched, first of all with children and youth. All this lay down the foundations for the Diaspora as an institution. This was the birthplace of three-quarters of the entire Russian Diaspora, which dispersed throughout all the continents of the globe, and we are all their descendants.

We arrived in Gallipoli (Gelibolu in Turkish), to this parcel of land granted by the Turkish government. Upon this land, through the efforts of the Fund of St Andrew the First-called, the exact same peaked stone monument was constructed that had been left behind by the Russians of Gallipoli in 1921. This was the Shapka Monomakha crowned with a cross, symbolizing the unshakeable presence of the spirit of Russia in foreign lands. This symbol of the Russian Sovereignty speaks of the symphonic task to the Russian wherever he may be, placing before each Russian person his duty as a citizen of Russia. While in Russia itself, the Reigning Icon of the Mother of God protected the entire suffering people of Russia, while abroad, in foreign lands, the Russian people preserved their faithfulness in serving their Homeland—Orthodox Russia.

The unity of spirit of everyone surrounding this Monument is palpable. Sympathetic with our spirit are also the Turkish representatives, and the local Turkish population, who have not forgotten those times. The future of Turkey itself was being determined then. Here, the mutual fates of peoples form a page in history which has not been ignored by the descendants of the Turks of Gallipoli.

The unveiling of this monument can certainly be considered a church event. Without a doubt it will bear fruits in all ways—ecclesiastical and social.

I would like to request that all who took photographs of this event would send them to our email address: chancellerie@diocesedegeneve.net for posting on our website. 

Thank you! 

With love in the Resurrected Christ,

Indeed He is Risen!

+ Michael, Bishop of Geneva and Western Europe of the
Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia