MOSCOW: November 29, 2006
The Vestments and Staff of His Eminence Metropolitan Philaret Are Given to His Holiness Patriarch Alexy
Today, November 29, 2006, the transfer of the hierarchical vestments of the late Primate of the Russian Church Abroad, Metropolitan Philaret (Voznesensky) to His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia took place at the Patriarchal Residence at Svyato-Danilov Monastery.
Since 1985, these vestments were kept by the late metropolitan's cell-attendant, Protodeacon Nikita Chakiroff, and after his death, by the Rector of Epiphany Church in Boston, Protopriest Roman Lukianov.
The following is Fr Roman's letter to His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II:
Archpriest Roman Lukianov
77 Delmar Avenue, Framingham, MA 01701, USA
Tel./FAX: (508) - 877 - 4966
November 6 (October 24), 2006
The Icon of the Mother of God "Joy of All Who Sorrow"
To His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia
Your Holiness Vladyka!
Some 20 years ago, the cell-attendant of the late Metropolitan Philaret, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, Protodeacon Nikita Chakiroff, left instructions for me to fulfill the blessing of blessed Metropolitan Philaret. This consisted of passing on to His Holiness, the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, at the proper time, the personal First Hierarchal vestments of Metropolitan Philaret. All the details are in the enclosed copy of the will of Fr Nikita. I accepted these instructions with trembling, and feel that the time has come to fulfill them.
Fr Nikita owed his very life to Metropolitan (then-Hegumen) Philaret, and served him selflessly his until his final days. I fully support the testament of Metropolitan Philaret given to Fr Nikita. Vladyka Philaret ordained me to the deaconate and priesthood and often saved me from the persecution of pseudo-ecclesiastical individuals, for which I repaid him with my profound love and gratitude. All circumstances indicate that the time has come to fulfill the will of Fr Nikita. With the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus, I humbly offer as a gift to the Russian Church, in the person of Your Holiness, four sets of vestments of Metropolitan Philaret as a symbol of the unity of the Local Russian Church and the Russian Church Abroad. A fifth set I give to Diveevo Convent.
Unfortunately, my illness prevents me from bringing these vestments personally, and I am deeply thankful to Father Archimandrite Tikhon (Shevkunov) for coming to Boston. Our entire parish eagerly waits the day when Your Holiness and His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus will raise their joint prayers during Divine Liturgy.
Asking Your holy prayers and Patriarchal blessings,
Mitred Protopriest Roman Lukianov
Rector of Epiphany Church
P.S. In prayerful memory of the Glorification of the Holy New Martyrs of Russia by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, and of Metropolitan Philaret of blessed memory, I make bold to present to Your Holiness a copy of the Boston icon of the Holy New Martyrs painted towards their canonization by the artist Nikolai Alexandrovich Papkov. A copy of this icon was carried in the procession of the cross during the Glorification and is now located in Ekaterinburg. The enclosed copy was blessed on the Altar Table in the Synodal Cathedral during the reading of the hours before the Glorification. At the same time, 20 thousand other smaller copies were blessed, which were given away since then throughout all of Russia. I make bold to include 10 copies of this for the people closest to Your Holiness, and also a brochure which explains its iconography.
Again, I ask Your holy prayers and First-hierarchical blessings.
As Fr Roman pointed out during the ceremony of the transfer held in Boston, he perceives special spiritual meaning in the fact that the vestments of Metropolitan Philaret, the Primate of the Russian Church Abroad who glorified the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia in 1981, when such an act was impossible in Russia, are being given now to the present Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church, who in 2000 glorified the host of New Martyrs in Russia in the rebuilt Cathedral of Christ the Savior.
His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II expressed his heartfelt gratitude to Protopriest Roman for his gift and noted that Fr Roman, despite his serious illness, was able still to perform the obedience laid upon him. His Holiness said that this gift is one more testament to the desire for unity between the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. His Holiness noted that the Russian Orthodox Church in the Fatherland knows of the tribulations endured and way of the cross traveled by the post-Revolutionary Russian emigration, one of the greatest figures of which was the third Primate of the Russian Church Abroad, Metropolitan Philaret (Voznesensky).
With the blessing of His Holiness, four of Metropolitan Philaret's vestments are included in a new exhibition devoted to the history of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia being held at the Ecclesio-Archeological Cabinet of Moscow Theological Academy at Holy Trinity-St Sergius Lavra; and one set will be given to Diveevo Convent.
In response to a question on the timing of the unification put forth by Pervy Kanal television station, His Holiness responded that he hopes that in December of this year, at meetings of the Holy Synod in Moscow and of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia in New York, the dates of this historic event will be determined.