Bari, May 31, 2011
On May 18–23, 2011, at the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, another pilgrimage was made by Russian Orthodox faithful to holy places of ancient Byzantium.
Participating in the journey organized by the Pilgrimage center of the Moscow Patriarchate in cooperation with the Department of External Church Relations were clergymen and laypeople from Moscow, Ekaterinburg, Yaroslavl, and other diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church, led by Archbishop Kirill of Yaroslavl and Rostov. The pilgrims visited Constantinople, Antalya, Demre (Myra in Lycea), and ancient Ephesus.
On May 19, the pilgrims prayed at the services held in the main church of the Constantinople Patriarchate—the cathedral of Great Martyr George, and venerated the holy shrines there, which include a particle of the Whipping Pillar of our Lord Jesus Christ, relics of St. John Chrysostom, St. Gregory the Theologian, Holy Empress Theophania, Martyr Solomonia, and Martyr Euphemia. Then the group from Russia visited the church of the Mother of God in Blachernae, the Hagia Sophia Cathedral, and the Church of St. Irene.
On May 21, the feast of St. John the Theologian, Archbishop Kirill served Divine Liturgy in the partially preserved church once built in Ephesus on the place where the beloved disciple of Christ reposed. Then the pilgrims visited the ruins of the Church of the Most Holy Mother of God, in which the Third Ecumenical Council took place in 431, reports theDECR Communication department.
On May 22, the feast of the translation of the relics of St. Nicholas the Wonder Worker from Myra in Lycia to Bari, Archbishop Kirill served Divine Liturgy in the basilica on the place where the great saint once served.
Many clergy and laypeople attended the service, including those who came with Archbishop Kirill on pilgrimage, as well as members of the Russian speaking diaspora in Turkey, and several thousand Orthodox believers who were vacationing in the resorts of Antalya.
At a meeting between Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia with Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople held in June of 2009 in Constantinople, the tradition of Russian pilgrimages to the ancient Christian holy sites located in modern Turkey was discussed. From that time on, pilgrimages have taken place regularly.