PARIS: July 26, 2010
The “Concord of Orthodox Youth” Visits the Holy Sites of the Capital of France
On Thursday, July 22, 2010, the “Concord of Orthodox Youth” group arrived by air to Paris and headed for the Embassy of the Russian Federation, where they were greeted by His Eminence Archbishop Mark of Berlin and Germany of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.
Employees of the Embassy then took the youth on a short excursion through the French capital. At the hill called Montaigne de Se Genevieve is the Chapel of St Etienne du Mont, which contains the relics of St Genevieve, the protectress of Paris. This was a favorite temple of Feodor Dostoevsky, who lived nearby. The pilgrims also visited the restaurant that the great Russian author frequented. During the French Revolution, militant atheists threw the relics of St Genevieve into the Seine River, but that night, under cover of darkness, nuns found the relics and hid them in the neighboring church (and interesting parallel to the Bolshevik Revolution!), and they have remained there ever since. Singing the laudation to St Genevieve, the young pilgrims then venerated the crypt containing her holy remains.
The “Concord” delegation then attended the opening of an exhibit of icons at the Russian Center of Paris, where the work of the iconographic studio at Holy Trinity Church in Kursk were on display. These splendid images were painted in the traditional Russian style. As the exhibit opened, the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God arrived, adding a special spiritual character to the event, mitigating the typical worldly mood prevalent at such exhibitions of Russian icons in the West. The Kursk Icon came from America to travel with the youth on their pilgrimage in France and Switzerland.
The Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of the Russian Federation to France, Alexander Konstantinovich Orlov, then welcomed the visitors, followed by words of greeting given by Vladyka Mark. Afterwards, the youth prayed before the Protectress of the Russian Diaspora and view the icons on exhibit, then gave an impromptu but very accomplished concert, which was particularly enjoyed by the old Russian emigres of Paris.
On Friday, Archbishop Mark officiated at Divine Liturgy at Three Hierarchs Russian Orthodox Church in Paris. A moleben was served afterwards before the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God. The “Concord” group then headed for the cemetery at Ste-Genevieve-des-Bois, where some of the most eminent Russian emigres are buried—writers, soldiers, officers and generals of the White Movement, philosophers, theologians and many common Russians.
Thence the young pilgrims headed to the Seminary of Ste Genevieve of Paris and Holy Martyr Martin of Kherson, established only a year ago. The Seminary was established in a closed Catholic convent. Its nuns gave the Seminary a portion of the relics of Ste Genevieve in an ancient reliquary, which became the main holy item of the institution. The Seminary’s Rector, Hieromonk Alexander (Sinyakov), told the young visitors in detail about the history of the establishment of seminaries and the challenges facing the dissemination of Orthodoxy in the West.