07 June 2013, 10:06
Patriarch Kirill visits Greek monastery with rich Russian record
Mount Athos, June 7, Interfax - Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia has led a small prayer service at the Hermitage of Prophet Elijah, one of the historic centers of Russian monasticism in Mount Athos.
Others who attended the service were Russian priest accompanying the patriarch on his current visit to Greece, Metropolitan Apostolos of Miletus, who represents the Constantinople Patriarchate in Athos, Alexander Beglov, presidential permanent envoy to Russia's Central Federal District, and Leonid Slutsky, a member of the State Duma Committee on the Commonwealth of Independent States and Liaison with Compatriots.
In a speech after the service Patriarch Kirill called the hermitage - a small monastery - a "gem of the Holy Mountain." The hermitage has a history that is shorter than that of other Athos monasteries but is "very glorious," he said.
He mentioned that, for over a century and a half, many Russians had come there to start a monastic life. They have included aristocrats, celebrities and ordinary people, the patriarch said, mentioning one of them, Prince Sergey Shirinsky-Shikhmatov, who became a monk and priest with the name Nikita and is a well-known writer and scholar.
Patriarch Kirill expressed hope that there would again be a Russian monastic community at the hermitage "so that both Russians and Greeks should be able to glorify God together, so that this hermitage should begin a new and fuller life, so that there should be historical continuity."
He blamed the former Soviet Union's official atheism and persecution of religious believers for the fact that there are no Russian monks at the hermitage today.
However, today "historical Russia" - Russia and other Orthodox countries of the former Soviet Union such as Ukraine and Belarus - are experiencing a rebirth of faith, which "is a Divine miracle," he said. "Where there is the blood of martyrs there is a rebirth of faith, and today you can witness such a rebirth," the patriarch said.
The primate of Russian Church presented the hermitage with an income of the Savior, while the head of the hermitage, Archimandrite Joachim, gave the patriarch a copy of the icon of the Theotokos that Russian Emperor Nicholas I kept with him during the war against the Ottoman empire.
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