DIOCESE OF GENEVA AND WESTERN EUROPE: September 17, 2007
Bishop Michael's Archpastoral Visits
On June 29/July 12, 2007, the feast day of SS Peter and Paul, His Grace Bishop Michael of Geneva and Western Europe officiated at Divine Liturgy in the church dedicated to those saints in Luxembourg. He was joined by the founder and Rector of the Parish, Protopriest Sergei Poukh; Protopriest Michael Goudkoff (Medon); Protopriest Stefan Weerts (Brussels); Priest Milinko Puric (Menton); as well as priests of the Russian Orthodox Church from Russia, the Romanian and Serbian Orthodox Churches; and Protodeacon Peter Figurek. This year marks the 25 th anniversary of the consecration of this church.
On July 14, Vladyka Michael led a small group of pilgrims to Ekaterinburg, Russia, where on July 16-19, he participated in the "Tsar's Days," during which divine services were held in honor of the Royal New Martyrs. The services were held in Ekaterinburg, at Ganin Pit and in Alapaevsk. After a Divine Liturgy held at night, a 20-kilometer procession of the cross was made from the Church of the Savior-on-the-Blood, built on the site of Ipatiev House, to Ganin Pit. Thirty thousand people participated in the procession. On the final night, His Grace officiated at Divine Liturgy along with the local clergy in a chapel of the Savior-on-the-Blood located in the cellar of Ipatiev House, where the Royal Family and their consorts received their martyric crowns.
Vladyka Michael and the pilgrims then flew through Moscow to the Far East, to the city of Blagoveshchensk to meet the participants of a procession of the cross making their way from Vladivostok to Moscow. This procession, the longest in history, is being done within the context of the program "Under the Star of the Mother of God," which is celebrating the reestablishment of unity within the Russian Orthodox Church. The procession had begun with a moleben conducted by Bishop Michael before the Miracle-working Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God in the Church of St Nicholas in Tolmachy at Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. This was in May of this year, and the day after the Ascension of the Lord, when the Act of Canonical Communion was signed.
Vladyka Michael returned from Russia on July 26, and on the 27 th and 28 th , he performed divine services at Vityaz Camp in Laffrey. St Vladimir, along with Holy Prince Alexander Nevsky and St Olga, Equal-to-the-Apostles, are the heavenly protectors of the Vitiazi, and for this reason his feast day is especially celebrated here. His Grace was joined by Protopriest Nikolai Rebinder and Protopriest Vladimir Yagello (Russian Exarchate of the Constantinople Patriarchate); Priest Quentin de Castelbajac (Lyon); Protodeacon Peter and Deacon Andrei Svinarev (Exarchate).
On August 1, Vladyka visited the former Donskoy oblast (now divided into the oblasts of Rostov and Volgograd); and on August 5 he consecrated the cross of the newly-built memorial to Ataman PN Krasnov in Elanskaya Stanitsa. The peaceful celebration was attended by some 500 persons. This is the only memorial to Ataman Krasnov in the world; he was a famous writer, a wise leader of the Don Cossacks, who for a brief time in 1918 restored the power of the Don Army. Until the end of his life he served God, his Homeland of Russia and his native Cossacks.
Returning to Moscow, Vladyka Michael participated in a procession of the cross from Solovki to Butovo Field. This procession was dedicated to those who gave their lives for Christ, first at Solovki in the 1920's during the forced digging of canals, along which the procession continued, and in 1937, the mass executions at Butovo. The victims included even those who labored in Solovki in the 1920's. The procession concluded with Divine Liturgy in the newly-consecrated church in Butovo, where the relics of thousands of New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia lie. The participants of the procession carried a 12.5-meter cross, which was then solemnly erected in Butovo.
On August 25-26, 2007, His Grace visited Holy Archangel Michael Church in Cannes. This was the first visit to this church by the Ruling Bishop of Geneva and Western Europe in years.
On August 26, the Apodosis of the Transfiguration of the Lord, Vladyka Michael celebrated Divine Liturgy in Cannes along with the Senior Priest of the Geneva Cathedral, Protopriest Pavel Tsvetkoff, who, at the instructions of the Ruling Bishop, served in Cannes this summer, along with Protodeacon Peter. On the eve, His Grace served all-night vigil there.
Unfortunately, the last few years have been troublesome at the Cannes parish, which had since 1923 been part of the Diocese of Geneva and Western Europe. Litigation on the church and its property is continuing between those who left into schism with the so-called "True Orthodox Church" of Tikhon Pasechnik.