Moscow, July 30, 2018
The 1,030th anniversary of the Baptism of Rus’ was celebrated throughout Russia over the weekend, with the main Russian celebration being held in the Moscow Kremlin, where representatives from 10 Local Orthodox Churches throughout the world joined the Russian Orthodox Church in its festivities.
July 15/28, the day of St. Vladimir the Great, has also been celebrated as the Baptism of Rus’ since 2008, by decision of the Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church, reports the site of the Russian Orthodox Church.
The guest of honor among the 10 delegations was His Beatitude Patriarch Theodoros II of Alexandria and All Africa, who led the festive celebrations along with His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia. The Liturgy was held for the first time on the cathedral square inside the Kremlin, with a special platform being erected for all the many celebrants. More than 20 bishops from the Russian Church participated in the services in Moscow.
The service was attended by scores of local clergy, abbots and abbesses, and public officials. It was broadcast live on several television channels, and can be viewed here.
The holy relics of St. Vladimir the Great housed at Christ the Savior Cathedral were transferred to the Kremlin for the Divine services on his commemoration day.
Festive antiphons for the day of the Baptism of Rus’, written in 1988 for the 1,000th anniversary, were sung during the Liturgy, as well as the troparia for the Holy Trinity, All Saints of Russia, the Baptism of Rus’, and the holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Grand Prince Vladimir. Special petitions written for the 1,030th anniversary were also read out during the Liturgy, asking that the grace of Baptism that has remained with the people of Rus’ for more than a millennium would continue to enlighten the Orthodox faithful. Pat. Kirill also prayed for peace in Ukraine, and for the souls of all the reposed bishops, clergy, and faithful of the Russian Church.
The Patriarchal and Synodal Epistle of the Russian Orthodox Church for the 1,030th anniversary of the Baptism of Rus’ was read out before Holy Communion.
Following the Divine Liturgy, Pat. Kirill offered words of greeting to Pat. Theodoros, noting his great love of Ukraine, Russia, and the Russian Church, having lived and prayed in Odessa for a decade. He also highlighted the Alexandrian primate’s fruitful missionary efforts throughout Africa.
In turn, Pat. Theodoros thanked Pat. Kirill for the opportunity to serve in Moscow, stating, “The sun is reflected in the domes of those cathedrals and reminds us that Rus’ has always been and will be Holy Rus’, and across from us shines a two-headed eagle—the symbol of Byzantium. This history reminds us of the great leaders St. Constantine the Great and the Grand Prince Vladimir.”
He also expressed his hope that peace would soon come to the Ukrainian land.
The thousands gathered then processed from the Kremlin to the nearby monument to St. Vladimir the Great on Borovitskaya Square. The procession was led by Pat. Kirill and Pat. Theodoros. President Vladimir Putin took part in the festive procession.
Once the procession reached the monument, a festive moleben to St. Vladimir was served, with special petitions for the Baptism of Rus’.
Following the service, President Putin addressed the gathered faithful, pointing to the moment of the Baptism of Rus’ in 988 as a monumental turning point in the history of the peoples of Rus’.
“The Baptism of Rus’ is a key turning point in our history, an event of civilizational scale, and a transforming spiritual force. It determined the further path of Russia throughout the centuries, and had an impact on the development of the whole world,” the president said, in particular.
According to the head of state, the Baptism of Rus’ was the starting point of “the formation and development of the Russian state, of the rue spiritual birth of our ancestors, the determining of their identity, self-consciousness, the flowering of national culture and education, and the development of the multi-faceted connections with other countries.”
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