KAZAKHSTAN: September 24, 2011
Final Day of the Visit of the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God “of the Sign” to Kazakhstan
On Friday, September 23, 2011, Divine Liturgy was celebrated at Vvedensky Cathedral, headed by His Eminence Metropolitan Alexander of Astana and Kazakhstan. He was joined by His Eminence Metropolitan Seraphim of Borjomi and Bakurian (Georgian Orthodox Church); His Eminence Archbishop Mark of Berlin, Germany and Great Britain of the 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 Vicar Bishop Gennady of the Astana Diocese, Administrator of the Synod of the Metropolitan District; His Grace Bishop Sevastian of Karagandin and Shakhtinsk; Protopriest Valery Zakharov, Dean of Astana Churches; Protopriest Alexander Suvorov, Senior Priest of the cathedral; heads of the Metropoliate departments, clergymen of the Borjomi Diocese and the churches of Almaty and its oblast.
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.
Because of the enormous number of worshipers wishing to venerate the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God during Liturgy, it was brought out to the plaza in front of the cathedral. Despite the inclement weather and nighttime rains, pilgrims streamed to the church for 48 hours, the line stretching many hundreds of meters from the entrance into the city park.
After Liturgy, Archbishop Mark, in accordance with a decision by the Synod of the Metropolitan District, was given the lofty Al’ys [“Gratitude”] Order of Kazakhstan for enhancing relations between the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and the Metropolitan District of the Russian Orthodox Church in the Republic of Kazakhstan. Al’ys medals were also granted to delegates of the Russian Church Abroad accompanying the icon. In prayerful memory of the visit to Kazakhstan, Metropolitan Alexander gave Vladyka Mark a portion of the relics of Holy Confessor Sebastian, Elder of Karaganda, and in honor of his archpastoral rank, a panaghia.
Divine services concluded with a moleben before the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God.