Thursday evening the delegations of the Churches of Russia and Romania arrived on the Hill of the Patriarchate. His Eminence Archbishop Sergiy of Solnetchnogorsk carried the reliquary containing a particle of the holy relics of Saint Seraphim of Sarov to the outdoor altar of the Patriarchal Cathedral. The convoy was followed by the Patriarchs of the two sister Orthodox Churches, Their Beatitudes Kirill and Daniel.
Following a litany including the polychronion for the two patriarchs, the Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church delivered a speech in which he thanked the Russian Patriarch for attending the celebrations on the patronal feast of the Patriarchal Cathedral in Bucharest and for bringing a particle of the holy relics of Saint Seraphim of Sarov.
We thank you, Your Beatitude, beloved brother in Christ and concelebrant, for coming at the great feast of Bucharest’s Patriarchal Cathedral, the feast of Saint Demetrius the New, Pat. Daniel said.
His Beatitude went on to speak about the arrival of the holy relics of Saint Demetrius the New in Romania, and also referred to the difficult time when communism wounded the Churches of Russia and Romania.
Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and all Russia has arrived in Romania pic.twitter.com/t9z1xT3QWj
— Basilica.ro (EN) (@BasilicaNews) October 26, 2017
Pointing to the two Saints Seraphim and Demetrius, His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel said that what they have in common is holiness as a gift of the Holy Spirit, a gift they cultivated through steadfast faith. He also recalled that the relics of the two Saints experienced the difficult time of communist dictatorship.
St Seraphim’s relics were seized by the communist authorities in 1926 and hidden in various museums until they were lost. In 1991, they were found and given to the Russian Orthodox Church, the patriarch added.
In his address, the Patriarch of Romania recalled the hostility that existed during communism towards the Romanian Orthodox Church, stressing that in 1989 Nicolae Ceausescu banned the organization of the celebrations of St Demetrius, Patriarch Teoctist being forced to move the relics of St Demetrius to a nearby church. Two months after this humiliation, on 22 December 1989, the communist regime led by Nicolae Ceausescu collapsed, and Romanians were crying out on the streets of Bucharest: “God is with us!”
His Beatitude concluded his speech by emphasising that the Saints, through the example of their lives, lead us to the Kingdom of Heaven.
God’s Saints are the safest teachers and the closest friends of humans, because they are God’s closest friends, the patriarch said. While we are faced with the temptation of secularization, Saints teach us that if we forget God, we forget life’s sacred purpose on earth, which is the pursuit of the Kingdom of Heaven.
In turn, His Beatitude Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia, thanked for the invitation to visit Romania and spoke about the devotion that believers in both sister Churches have to Saint Seraphim of Sarov.
I am happy to have the opportunity to arrive to the blessed Romanian land, and to observe the godliness of the faithful Romanian people. Responding to the request of Your Beatitude, I brought as a gift to our sister Romanian Orthodox Church a fragment of the relics of a great Saint, Venerable Seraphim of Sarov, who is loved much in both Romania and Russia, Patr. Kirill said.
Referring to St Seraphim’s well-known urge: “Acquire a spirit of peace, and thousands around you will be saved”, His Beatitude advised the faithful to ask for God’s mercy in order to receive a spirit of peace and love.
Peace and love are important values for man regardless of the society in which he lives because these values start from God. In only one community they can be fully accomplished, and this community is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, His Beatitude Patriarch Kirill stressed.
This is the first visit of a Russian Patriarch in post-comunist Romania and the first of Patriarh Kirill in our country, since his election. pic.twitter.com/Po3AFYmTmq
— Basilica.ro (EN) (@BasilicaNews) October 26, 2017
May the spirit of genuine brotherly love always reign in our hearts! May the bonds of love between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Romanian Orthodox Church be strengthened continuously. I offer Your Beatitude with love these holy relics so that God through the intercessions of St Seraphim grant prosperity to our countries for many years.
At the conclusion of the patriarchal addresses, His Grace Bishop Timotei of Prahova carried the relics to the new baldachin next to the Patriarchal Cathedral. The two patriarchs venerated the holy relics placed in the baldachin, namely the relics of St Demetrius the New, St Seraphim of Sarov, St Nectarios, and a fragment of the Holy Cross.
Next, a private meeting between Patriarch Kirill and Patriarch Daniel took place at Dignitas Hall of the Patriarchal Palace.
The plane bringing the Russian delegation, headed by Patriarch Kirill, landed Thursday on Henri Coandă International Airport. This is the first visit of a Russian Patriarch in post-comunist Romania and the first visit of Patriarh Kirill in our country, since his election in 2009.
Patriarch Kirill’s official visit in our country is occasioned by the celebrations held in Bucharest in memory of the defenders of Orthodoxy during communism and to mark Patriarch Daniel’s 10th anniversary of patriarchal ministry. Friday His Beatitude will preside over the Divine Liturgy on the feast of Saint Demetrius the New, Protector of Bucharest. The next day will participate at the solemn session of the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church.
Photos by: Robert Nicolae/Basilica.ro