On May 25, 2017, the feast of the Ascension of the Lord, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia performed the rite of the great consecration of the Church of the Resurrection of Christ and the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia in Moscow’s Sretensky Stavropighial Monastery, and officiated at Divine Liturgy that followed.
Among the hierarchs joining His Holiness were His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia; His Eminence Archbishop Mark of Berlin and Germany; His Eminence Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco and Western America; His Eminence Archbishop Gabriel of Montreal and Canada; His Eminence Archbishop Michael of Geneva and Western Europe; His Eminence Archbishop Peter of Chicago and Mid-America; His Grace Bishop Evtikhy (Kurochkin); His Grace Bishop John of Caracas and South America and His Grace Bishop Theodosius of Seattle. Also participating in the service were Protopriest Victor Potapov, Rector of St John the Baptist Cathedral in Washington, DC; Protopriest Serafim Gan, Chancellor of the Synod of Bishops of ROCOR and rector of St Seraphim Memorial Church of the Reestablishment of Unity Within the Russian Orthodox Church in Sea Cliff, NY, and other clergymen.
Also in attendance was President Vladimir Putin of Russia; Mayor of Moscow Sergey Sobyanin; Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky; Plenipotentiary Representative of the President of Russia in the Federal Region Alexander Beglov, as well as the planners, builders and benefactors of the new church.
The service was sung by the world-renowned Sretensky Monastery Choir under NS Zhila and the Sretensky Seminary Choir under Deacon Alexander Amerkhanov.
Both Soyuz and Spas channels broadcast the event.
During the consecration of the church, the relics of Holy Hieromartyr Hilarion of Verey, the heavenly patron of Sretensky Monastery, who was its abbot during the 1920’s, were brought from the Church of the Meeting of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God to the new church and situated on the right side of the altar. Heading the procession of the cross and the translation of the relics was His Holiness Patriarch Kirill.
After the augmented litany, Patriarch Kirill read the Prayer for Peace in Ukraine.
His Grace Bishop Tikhon of Egoriev spoke words of welcome to His Holiness after Liturgy and gave him a gift of a panaghia to mark the occasion. Patriarch Kirill then delivered a sermon to those in attendance, thanking Mayor Sobyanin for his assistance in building the new church, and bestowing upon him the Order of Holy Prince Daniel of Moscow, First Degree.
In recognition of his initiative in building the new church, His Holiness awarded Bishop Tikhon the Order of Holy Prince Daniil of Moscow, 1st Degree. Patriarch Kirill also gave the church an ancient icon of the Savior.
Vladimir Putin then addressed the congregants:
“It is deeply symbolic that the new church is opening on the 100th anniversary of the February and October Revolutions, which became the starting point for the great many terrible sufferings which our nation endured in the 20th century,” said the Russian President.
“We must remember both the bright and the tragic pages of history, to learn to absorb them in their entirety, objectively, covering up nothing. Only in this way can we fully understand and make sense of the lessons that the past offers us. We know how brittle civil peace can be—now we know this—and we can never forget. We cannot forget how difficult it can be to heal division.
“This is why it is our duty to do everything we can to preserve the unity of the Russian nation.” According to the President, the recognition of common goals, “primarily the well-being of each person and of our Homeland as a whole, is the key which will help us overcome discord,” he said. “The most shining confirmation of this was the reestablishment of unity within the Russian Orthodox Church, the tenth anniversary of which we celebrated today.”
The Act of Canonical Communion between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia was signed on the feast of the Ascension of the Lord on May 17, 2007.
“The Russian Orthodox Church here in Russia suffered, enduring great losses, but stood together with her people. Meanwhile, the Russian Church Abroad always helped our compatriots who found themselves far from their Homeland, not only to preserve the faith, but to sense their close bonds with their Homeland, with Russia, her traditions, language and our culture,” said the President. “And the reestablishment of unity strengthened this bond. It became and remains an event of enormous moral resonance, a symbol and example of the fact that our nation, its past can and must unite us all, not divide us.”
The head of the Russian State gave the Church of the Resurrection and Holy New Martyrs and Confessors an icon of St John the Forerunner painted in the 19th century.
In his response, His Holiness said, “On my part, I would also like to express my heartfelt congratulations all of us on the tenth anniversary of the reunification of the Russian Church Abroad and the Moscow Patriarchate in the hope that the results of this reconciliation will become more apparent and important for the entirety of our Church. We have time to deepen this unity, to bolster its foundations, so that in its fullness, our unity serves to the reestablishment of piety and faith within our people. Once again, I congratulate you all on this holiday!”
Printed icons of Hieromartyr Hilarion blessed by His Holiness were distributed to everyone.
President Putin and the Patriarch then viewed the lower church dedicated to St John the Baptist and the Twelve Apostles. They then toured Sretensky Theological Seminary, where a brief meeting took place between the Head of State and the hierarchs of the Russian Church Abroad.