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KAZAKHSTAN: September 21, 2011
The Kursk-Root Icon in Almaty

September 21, 2011, the feast day of the Nativity of the Mother of God, is special this year for the believers of the southern capital of the Republic of Kazakhstan for the presence of the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God of the Sign at Vvedensky Cathedral. The icon is the main holy icon of the Russian Diaspora.

Divine Liturgy at the cathedral was led by His Eminence Metropolitan Alexander of Astana and Kazakhstan. Vladyka Metropolitan was joined in the service by His Eminence Metropolitan Seraphim of Borjomi and Bakurian (Georgian Orthodox Church); His Eminence Archbishop Mark of Berlin, Germany and Great Britain (Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia); His Eminence Archbishop Anthony of Ural and Guriev; His Eminence Archbishop Elevfery of Chimkent and Akmolin; His Grace Bishop Anatoly of Kostanai and Petropavlovsk; His Grace Bishop Lazar of Narva and Prichudsk; Vicar Bishop Gennady of Kaskelensk of the Astana Diocese, Administrator of the Synodal District; His Grace Bishop Maksim of Barnaul and Altai; His Grace Bishop Sevastian of Karagandin and Shakhtinsk, Administrator of the Karaganda Diocese; His Grace Bishop Philaret of of Nova Kakhovka and Henichesk (Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate); Protopriest Valery Zakharov, Dean of the Churches of Almaty; Protopriest Alexander Suvorov, Senior Priest of the cathedral, heads of the Metropoliate departments, clergymen of the Karaganda Diocese and visiting clergymen from the Borjomi Diocese.

Praying at divine services was Abbess Sevastiana of the Nativity of the Mother of God Convent of Karaganda along with her nuns, members of the Almata Diocesan Administration, students of Almaty Theological Seminary and representatives of the Cossacks.

Three groups sang at Liturgy: the choir of the Kazakhstan Metropoliate under Mr ON Ovchinnikov, member of the Academy of Arts of Russia; the choir of Voznesensky Cathedral and a childrens chorus of the cathedral. The Consul General of France to Kazakhstan, Guy Narjolet and leaders and representatives of social organizations.

Greetings from His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia to the faithful of Kazakhstan on the occasion of the visit of the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God.

Liturgy concluded with a moleben before the miracle-working icon of the Theotokos. Metropolitan Alexander and Archbishop Mark also congratulated those in attendance.

The hierarchy, clergy and flock of the Orthodox Church in Kazakhstan congratulated their father and archpastor, Metropolitan Alexander, on his namesday. Since Metropolitan Alexander had been away on church business on the feast day of his heavenly protector, St Alexander Nevsky, on September 12, the celebration was rescheduled to coincide with the arrival of the Kursk-Root Icon. Bishop Gennady congratulated him on behalf of the bishops, clergymen and laity of the Metropoliate of Kazakhstan. He noted that the arrival to Kazakhstan of the important icon of the Mother of God of the Sign took place thanks to the Metropolitans own efforts. The clergy of the diocese gave him a gift of a panaghia depicting the Feodorov Icon of the Mother of God and St Alexander Nevsky. Young graduates of the cathedrals Sunday school read a poem congratulating their hierarch.

Archbishop Mark gave the Orthodox Christians of Almaty, as a memento of the visit of the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God to their land, an icon containing a portion of the relics of St John of Shanghai and San Francisco the Miracle-worker. It was in the presence of the Kursk-Root Icon that the holy man reposed in the Lord.

At the end of the services, Metropolitan Alexander, Metropolitan Seraphim and Archbishop Mark granted an interview to the national and local media. The briefing was arranged by Interfax-Kazakhstan.

For the rest of the day, the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God remained in Voznesensky Cathedral as clergymen of Almaty performed molebens and akathists, where it will remain until the evening of September 23.

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