Memorial service held at Optina for departed abbot Fr. Benedict; Patriarch offers condolences

Kozelsk, Russia, January 23, 2018

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Early this morning, the coffin with the body of the newly-reposed Archimandrite Benedict (Penkov) was taken from the Moscow podvoriye of Optina Monastery to Optina Monastery itself in Kozelsk, Russia, where the monks said goodbye to their abbot, reports the Synodal Department for Monasteries and Monasticism of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Archimandrite Benedict reposed early in the morning yesterday due to complications from a January 9 leg amputation. He had served as abbot of the famous Optina Monastery since January 1991.

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The brothers of the monastery bid farewell to Fr. Benedict throughout the first half of the day in the monastery’s Church of St. Mary of Egypt.

A memorial litiya was later held in the same church.

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Then, under the ringing of funeral bells, with the singing of “Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal…” and censing, the monastery brotherhood transferred the body of the departed Fr. Benedict to Kazan Church, where a panikhida for the departed was celebrated by Archimandrite Alexander of Optina, with the assistance of Archimandrite Iliodor, Igumen Tikhon, Igumen Makary, and other clergymen of the monastery.

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The faithful laity had the opportunity say their farewells to Fr. Benedict following the panikhida.

His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia has also expressed his condolences to the Optina brotherhood and offered prayers for the repose of the soul of Fr. Benedict.

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“His Holiness Pat. Kirill recalls today with a special sentiment his many trips to Optina Pustyn, during which he celebrated the services together with the reposed, and with the monastery brethren,” reports Fr. Alexander Volkov, the head of the patriarchal press service. “Expressing his condolences to the brethren, His Holiness notes that the entire life of the deceased was dedicated to the service of God and man … His Holiness Pat. Kirill remembers today with gratitude the labors of the reposed, who always cared for the monastery entrusted to him, did much for the restoration of the monastery’s former grandeur, and gave attention to the preservation of the continuity of the monastic traditions, enlightenment, and spiritual-moral education of our contemporaries,” Fr. Alexander added.

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His Holiness also sent his condolences to the brotherhood, which will be read out during tomorrow’s funeral for the newly-departed Archimandrite Benedict. He will be interred in the monastery’s Kazan Church.

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