WESTERN EUROPEAN DIOCESE: January 14, 2019
Nativity celebrations at the Cathedral of the Elevation of the Cross
Nativity of Christ celebrations in Geneva, Switzerland began on Friday morning, January 4, 2019, with the reading of the Royal Hours at Elevation of the Holy Cross Cathedral. An enormous number of worshipers attended the following divine services, barely accommodated by the oldest Orthodox church in Switzerland. On the Sunday of the Holy Fathers, as well as on the Nativity of Christ itself, hundreds of believers partook of the Holy Eucharist, including many young people and children. Multitudes also prayed at Nativity vespers and matins.
Mitred Protopriest Pavel Tsvetkoff officiated at Divine Liturgy along with Protopriest Emilian Pocinoc and Protopriest George Goncharov, Protodeacon George Jonneret and Archdeacon Dometian (Redko). Despite the fact that it was a weekday, the cathedral was overfilled with worshipers who would later greet each other with the words “Christ is Born!” in Russia, French, Serbian, Ukrainian, Moldavan, Georgian, Ethiopian and other languages. Larisa Popovich and Reader Matthew Malinin led the beautiful choir singing.
Fr Pavel read the Nativity Epistle of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia. In his own greeting that followed, Fr Pavel stressed the special importance of the entry into our world of the Son of God, born in distant Palestine over 2000 years ago in order to save mankind. The pastor called upon all believers to be morally worthy of this great event, which the Holy Church celebrates every year, bringing us into the cave in Bethlehem where a new epoch in the history of humanity began. Fr Pavel relayed the congratulations of His Grace Bishop Irenei of Richmond and Western Europe, wishing the congregants good health and Divine blessings from the Child Christ in the coming new year.
After Liturgy, the younger generation surrounded Fr Emilian, who distributed sweets, which has become an annual Christmas tradition at the parish to mirror the gifts brought by the Magi to the Christ Child. A trapeza luncheon then followed, which included the singing of Christmas carols.
On the second day of Nativity, January 8, the Synaxis of the Most-Holy Theotokos, Archimandrite Alexander (Ecchevaria) celebrated Divine Liturgy. Fr Pavel then read the Nativity Epistle of His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, adding his own congratulations and good wishes to the Geneva parish. The coming episcopal consecration of Fr Alexander as Bishop of Vevey was again announced, which with God’s help will take place at the cathedral on Sunday, January 20, 2019.