Moscow, November 23, Interfax - Pope Francis has congratulated Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia on his 70th birthday and given him a precious gift.
"In expressing again my gratitude for presenting me with a piece of the holy relics of Saint Seraphim of Sarov, I am glad to present you with a piece of the relics of St. Francis of Assisi, my heavenly protector," the pope said in a congratulatory message, quoted by the patriarch's press office.
Francis of Assisi is thought to be one of the closest saints to Seraphim of Sarov, the pope said.
"May these two marvelous God pleasers, already united in paradise, pray for us that we labor even more unitedly for the sake of attaining peace and total unity that Jesus Christ prayed for," the message said.
The pope also thanked the patriarch for his personal contribution in bringing the two Churches closer and recalled, with a special feeling, their historical meeting in Havana in February of this year.
It was reported that during his visit to the Vatican in September of this year the head of the Synodal Department for External Church Relations Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, presented the pope on the patriarch's behalf with a piece of the relics of Saint Seraphim of Sarov in the ark, made in the form of an Easter egg.