On 4 December 2017, a festive Divine Liturgy was celebrated at Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow to mark the enthronement centenary of St Tikhon, the first Russian Patriarch after the restoration of the Patriarchate in the Russian Orthodox Church in 1917.
Installed in the centre of the church was the shrine with the holy relics of Patriarch Saint Tikhon, which had been brought there from the Donskoy Monastery on November 29, the first day of work of the Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church.
His Beatitude Pope and Patriarch Theodoros II of Alexandria and All Africa presided over the Divine Liturgy with the concelebration of several Primates of local Orthodox Churches including:
- Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem and All Palestine,
- Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia,
- Patriarch Irinej of Serbia,
- Patriarch Daniel of Romania,
- Archbishop Chrysostomos of New Justiniana and All Cyprus,
- Archbishop Anastasios of Tirana and All Albania,
- Metropolitan Sawa of Warsaw and All Poland,
- Metropolitan Rastislav of the Czech Lands and Slovakia.
Concelebrants for the Divine Liturgy included His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon of All America and Canada, Metropolitan Theodore of Akhaltsikhe and Tao-Klarjeti – head of the delegation of the Georgian Orthodox Church, and Metropolitan Gabriel of Lovech – head of the delegation of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Daniel of Tokyo and All Japan.
During the Liturgy, was read out the message by the Holy Episcopal Council to the clergy, monks, nuns, and all faithful of the Russian Orthodox Church.
‘The election of the holy bishop Tikhon to the Patriarchal Throne of Moscow coincided with the beginning of the cruel persecution of God’s Church,’ which made Russia ‘soaked red with the innocent blood of the first martyrs in modern history’, the message reads.
‘Without God, no state or social building can ever lead to prosperity.’ This is the main lesson of the past century that should be professed to all, the message continues.
‘History has shown that revolutionary attitudes, generated by political provocations, including those that appeal to social justice, are ruinous for the state and destructive for people. Representatives of all layers of society must exert all their efforts in avoiding the repetition of errors, which led in the last century to the suffering and deaths of many people and to the destruction of our statehood.’
The message also refers to ‘the First Hierarchs and representatives of the Local Orthodox Churches who have come to Moscow to participate in the festivities on the occasion of the hundredth anniversary of the enthronement as Patriarch of the holy bishop Tikhon’, which represents ‘the visible expression of Orthodox unity’ especially today ‘when many Christians who are persecuted for their faith need our ardent prayer and active intercession.’
‘We must not forget those who are driven out of their churches, who are blown up and murdered by terrorists. We are called upon to defend courageously and steadfastly the Christian values, which are today being edged out of the lives of many nations’, reads an urge of the Russian Orthodox hierarchs to their believers.
At the end of the Divine Liturgy, Patriarch Kirill thanked the Primates of Autocephalous Orthodox Churches and the delegations taking part in the celebrations marking the centenary of the restoration of the Russian Patriarchate, ‘an event that is as important as it is providential.’ The Patriarch of Moscow appreciated the ‘brotherly sentiments and good wishes expressed, and the prayerful support and visible witness to Orthodox unity so convincingly manifested in these blessed days.’
Pointing to ‘the historic event of the holy bishop Tikhon’s ascent to the Moscow Patriarchal Throne’, Patriarch Kirill stressed that ‘his ministry of confessing the faith came at a time when people fought against God’ and thanked the sister Orthodox Churches ‘for their unfailing solidarity with the Church of Russia that had to endure the cruelest persecutions in the 20th century.’
The Patriarch noted that the Church’s main task is ‘to serve God and the people. This means that in the future she will preserve the apostolic succession and hierarchical order, fearlessly proclaim the Gospel Truth, respond to the questioning of our contemporaries and give pastoral answers to them.’
Recalling the past century, Patriarch Kirill thanked the Lord Jesus Christ for ‘the years of hardship and spiritual revival, for the joy abiding in the bosom of the Church and the sufferings in the name of Christ, for the acquisition of the kingdom of Heaven for those seeking the salvation of human souls, for the gift of prayerful communion and the affirmation of Church unity.’
‘The Church’s mission is difficult and responsible,’ the patriarch added, saying that ‘throughout the ages she has, guided by the Holy Spirit, tirelessly proclaimed unto the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 1:8) the Good News of the One who is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6) – our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.’
At the end of his speech, Patriarch Kirill thanked the hierarchs present at the Bishops’ Council, on November 29 – December 2, ‘who have laboured in the spirit of brotherly love and have made their contribution to the good cause of conciliar work.’
Photos courtesy of Robert Nicolae/Basilica.ro