KURSK: September 24, 2009
Tens of Thousands in Kursk Festively and Joyously Greet
the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God
On September 23, 2009, His Eminence Archbishop Arseny officiated at Divine Liturgy at Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow along with local clergymen Protopriest Vladimir Divakov and Protopriest Mikhail Ryazantsev. Praying at the service were His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion and other bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. At the end of Divine Liturgy, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia headed a farewell moleben before the greatest holy icon of the Russian diaspora, after which it departed for Kursk.
After the icon was ceremoniously greeted at Kursk Airport, a procession of the cross went from Perekalsky Square to Znamensky Cathedral, where a moleben was performed, and a stream of worshipers began venerating the miracle-working icon. That evening, Governor AN Mikhailov of Kursk oblast hosted a dinner in honor of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill and those accompanying him, including the members of the delegation of the Russian Church Abroad.
The following day, His Holiness, in the presence of the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God, performed the great consecration of the rebuilt Church of the Nativity of the Mother of God in Korennaya Pustyn’ [Kursk-Root Hermitage], followed by Divine Liturgy. At the end of the services, His Holiness read an inspired sermon and gave gifts and awards to those who labored especially hard in the reconstruction of the holy church. In his response, His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion said, in part:
“Your Holiness, beloved in the Lord archpastors, pastors and children of the Russian Orthodox Church!
“It is with great joy that we participate in this great and historic event: the recreation and consecration of this holy church, for we continue to try to bring spiritual justification for our love for our Homeland. Obtaining one’s Homeland constitutes spiritual self-recognition, pointing to the spiritual roots of one’s soul. There are those who have never set foot in Russia, who speak no Russian, but who empathize together with Russia. The essence of our Homeland lies in the spiritual depths of the heart. Scattered throughout all the nations of the world are her full-fledged citizens, spiritually loyal to Russia, since they voluntarily chose the way of their ancestors, the spirit of their people, and feel that the Homeland is a spiritual reality. The Homeland is the spiritual life of our people and we thank God for awakening the people to freedom and spiritual life.
“It is the spiritual life for which one can and must love one’s people, for emotional and spiritual threads bind people more profoundly and more firmly than any others. The similarity between the inner life of believers abroad and those in the Homeland leads to intensive cooperation and communication, whence the deep unity of the faithful in beholding the One Lord, afor the worship of Him is one of the deepest and most powerful manifestations of the human soul.
“By the blessing of the Synod of Bishops, in memory of today’s event, we are granting Your Holiness the highest award of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.”
Metropolitan Hilarion then gave His Holiness the Synodal Znamensky Medal of the First Order and an icon depicting St John (Maximovich) and St Seraphim of Sarov holding the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God. Thanking Georgy Sergeevich Poltavchenko, Presidential Plenipotentiary of the Central Region of Russia and the President of the Benevolent Council for the Restoration of Korennaya Pustyn, His Eminence also awarded him the Synodal Znamensky Medal of the First Order and an icon. His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion then gave an icon of St John (Maximovich) bearing a portion of his holy relics as a gift to the newly-consecrated church.
Below are photographs of the events.