DIOCESE OF WESTERN EUROPE: November 15, 2013
The Church of the Mother of God “Joy of All Who Sorrow” Church in Menton on the Cote d’Azur Celebrates its Feast Day
On November 9-10, 2013, in the city of Menton, France, on the Cote d’Azur (Mediterranean coast), the parish of the Mother of God “Joy of All Who Sorrow” celebrated its feast day. All-night vigil and Divine Liturgy were led by His Eminence Archbishop Michael of Geneva and Western Europe. The celebration drew worshipers from France, Italy and Monaco who attend this church. The vast majority of attendees partook of the Holy Gift of Christ.
After Liturgy, a moleben was performed before an icon of the Mother of God “Joy of All Who Sorrow.” Vladyka Michael then delivered a sermon on the history of the holiday, and on the history of thi Russian church, closely tied to a hospice built in 1892 by a Menton charity under the aegis of Grand Duche Anastasia Mikhailovna of Russia. The fine climate, beneficial for tuberculosis patients, made Menton famous among Russians. Today, many architectural memorials have been preserved attesting to the historical broad Russian presence in the area. There is chapel at the local cemetery, along with many graves of Russian emigres both in Menton and neighboring towns, which include such eminent names as Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich and his wife, Ksenia Alexandrovna, the sister of Emperor Nicholas II; and sculptures by Leopold Bernstam and Eugene Lanceray on the town’s plazas.
Amid this cultural legacy is this Russian Orthodox church adorned with icons by the renowned painter Kark Briullov. Orthodox Christian services have been performed here for over 120 years. Built for the consolation of all who grieve and hope for a miracle from the Most-Holy Mother of God, this church served as the last resort for joy and consolation for many Christians. For this reason, the church played an exceptional role in ministering to hundreds of Russians who spent time in this city. Just like 120 years ago, today it serves as the spiritual heart of the north part of the Cote d’Azur. Woven throughout Vladyka Michael’s sermon was the notion that bodily illness is connected with sin which darkens the human soul. He called upon the worshipers to pay close attention to their personal spiritual lives and to prevent passions and weaknesses from taking root in their hearts, which destroy the entirety of the person.
After Liturgy, a ceremonial luncheon was offered to celebrate the feast day and archpastoral visit at the Russian House of Menton, organized by the local Orthodox Association of St Anastasia, the goal of which is to preserve the Russian cultural and spiritual legacy in the area.
Subdeacon Vladimir Svistun