Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem is making his first official visit to Russia and yesterday had an opportunity yesterday to sit down for a visit with President Putin at the presidential summer residence in Sochi.
After thanking the two Patriarchs, Kirill of Moscow and Theophilos of Jerusalem, the president welcomed them and their guests to his summer home.
Mr. Putin began his formal remarks by thanking Patriarch Theophilos for supporting the Russian initiative to build a pilgrims’ house in Jordan by the River Jordan. Mr. Putin went on to say, “We have very good relations with Jerusalem. Many Russian pilgrims visit the Holy Land. Our Russian Orthodox Church and the Moscow Patriarchate have a longstanding presence there too. I am very pleased to see that the two sister churches have developed such good relations.”
Patriarch Kirill of Russia stated that “such meetings strengthen the relations between the Moscow and Jerusalem Patriarchates and further the cause of peace in the Middle East.”
Patriarch Theophilos III acknowledged that the visit to Russia was of great importance for both churches, saying that “we see it as a historic event that seals the good relations between our two churches and also the ties that exist between the honourable Russian people and the honourable people of Palestine.”
President Putin also invited Patriarch Theophilos to return for the Russian celebration of the 1025th anniversary of the baptism of Rus in July of this year. The celebration will begin in Moscow on July 24, on the feast day of the Holy Blessed Princess Olga, grandmother of Prince Vladimir who brought Orthodoxy to the Kievan Rus in 988.
Recently Russian Patriarch Kirill had announced that the festal liturgy would be served in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior. It is expected that other Orthodox Churches will participate and the sacred celebration will move to Kyiv (Kiev) the place of Prince Vladimir’s baptism where a solemn divine service take place on St. Vladimir’s Hill, at the monument to Prince Vladimir.
The July celebration will conclude in the Belorussian capital of Minsk with divine services held outdoors and followed by a large folk procession.