Belgrade, February 23, 2018
The festive ceremony of the transferring of the Ascension mosaic for the inside of the main dome of St. Sava’s Cathedral in Belgrade was held yesterday. The icon was made by a collective of Russian artists under the direction of the People’s Artist of the Russian Federation N. A. Mukhin, reports the site of the Russian Orthodox Church.
The mosaic weighs 40 tons, according to The Hindustan Times. It was largely funded by the Russian energy company Gazprom, and was assembled in Moscow over the course of the previous year.
The event was attended by His Holiness, hierarchs of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, Minister of Foreign Affairs Ivica Dačić, President of Republika Sprska Milorad Dodik, and other Serbian politicians, public figures, clergymen, and journalists.
On the Russian side, the ceremony was attended by Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov, who was in Belgrade for the occasion of the 180th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Russia and Serbia, Russian ambassador to Serbia A. V Chepurin, President of the Russian Academy of the Arts Z. I. Tsereteli, Gazprom General Director Alexander Dyukov, and other business and diplomatic representatives.
With the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) of Volokolamsk, the Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations, also attended the ceremony, conveying greetings on behalf of the patriarch. Welcoming addresses were also given by Pat. Irinej, Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergei Lavrov, President Vučić, and Gazprom General Director Dyukov.
Thanking the Russian Orthodox Church and President Putin for their assistance in realizing the mosaic project, His Holiness Pat. Irinej stated, “The church will be the pride of both Serbs and Russians, as well as Orthodoxy in general,” reports TASS.
“When I again entered under the majestic vaults of the Church of St. Sava on Vračar today, my heart was filled with a sense of deep joy and reverence at the sight of the grand mosaic composition of the Ascension which now adorns the dome of the cathedral,” Met. Hilarion said.
“The mosaic decoration of the main church of the Serbian Orthodox Church is an offering from Russia and its president, Russian artists, and the Russian Orthodox Church, led by its patriarch, to Serbian Orthodoxy. It will become for future generations a testimony of the brotherly love binding the Russian and Serbian Orthodox Churches and which nourishes their people,” His Eminence concluded.
The event ended with performances from the Russian children’s choir “Domisolka” and the Moscow Synodal Choir. In the evening, His Holiness Irinej hosted a dinner for invited guests from Russia and the hierarchs of the Serbian Orthodox Church.