KIEV: June 6, 2007
His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus' Visit to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate)
The visit by His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus and his escorts to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate began on May 23 with a trip to the Glinsk Stavropighial Hermitage of the Nativity of the Most-Holy Mother of God. This renowned 16 th -century monastery suffered great damage during the atheist persecutions: almost all of its buildings were razed, including the wonderful stone cathedral. The monastery has been enjoying a rebirth since 1994. The delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and Archbishop German of Kursk and Rylsk, who accompanied its members, were greeted by the Prior of the Monastery, Bishop Luke of Vasilkovsk, Vicar of the Kievan Metropoliate, who told the guests about the history of the monastery and its life today. Then His Eminence Vladyka Laurus visited the remarkably beautiful ancient city of Glukhov. It is properly considered the capital of ancient liturgical music: born in this city were the great church music composers Dmitry Bortniansky and Maxim Berezovsky, who began their careers here. Metropolitan Laurus visited the grand Cathedral of the Three Anastasys, built by the sugar magnate and patron of the arts Nikolai Tereshchenko, which is a gem of this millennium-old city.
Later that day, on the eve of SS Cyril and Methodius, Equal-to-the-Apostles, His Eminence attended solemn all-night vigil at Uspensky Cathedral of Kievo-Pecherskaya Lavra, at which His Eminence Archbishop Avgustin of Lvov and Galich officiated along with His Grace Antony of Borispolsk. Also praying in the altar were His Eminence Metropolitan Onufry of Chernovitsy and Bukovina and the Abbot of the Monastery, His Eminence Archbishop Pavel of Vyshgorodsk.
On May 24, the feast day of SS Cyril and Methodius, His Eminence Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev and All Ukraine and His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus of Eastern America and New York officiated at Divine Liturgy in Uspensky Cathedral of Kievo-Pecherskaya Lavra. They were joined by Metropolitan Onufry, Archbishop Avgustin, His Eminence Archbishop Gury of Zhitomir and Novograd-Volynia, Archbishop Pavel and the monastery clergy. After the service, Metropolitan Onufry welcomed the guest of the Kievan land, the cradle of monasticism in the Fatherland. He noted that the labors of Vladyka Laurus, his patience and persistence were crowned with the overcoming of the tragic division of the faithful of one Church, and this was an historic event.
After the service, a festive monastic trapeza was offered. His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus congratulated the Lavra's monks and thanked them for their efforts in restoring the sites and things holy to all Orthodox Christians—the Kievo-aya Lavra. Archbishop Pavel, the Prior of the monastery, spoke of the work and daily life of the holy monastery, about the importance of Orthodox unity. "At any time of day or night, the Lavra is open for you, Vladyka, and for our brethren from the Church Abroad," he said.
That day, Metropolitan Laurus venerated the holy relics of Kievo-Pecherskaya Lavra kept in the Near and Far Caves.
That evening, at dinner, the delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia met with members of the Ukraine Parliament and the Chairman of the State Committee on Television and Radio, Eduard Prutnik, who read Prime Minister Victor Yanukovich's greeting to Metropolitan Laurus.
On May 25, the guests visited the other monasteries of Kiev: St Panteleimon Convent in Feofania, Holy Trinity-St Jonah Monastery and Pokrovsky Convent. His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus was accompanied by a permanent member of the Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Onufry. The visitors learned about the history of the monastery and prayed at the holy relics. At Pokrovsky Convent, founded by Grand Duchess Alexandra Petrovna, a reception was given to the delegation of the Russian Church Abroad.
In the afternoon, Metropolitan Vladimir and Metropolitan Laurus boarded a cutter and took a cruise along the Dniepr River. At Slavutich-Dniepr, the bishops saw the golden cupolas of the churches and monasteries of the Ukrainian capital sparkling along the river bank. They were escorted by Metropolitan Onufry, Archbishop Avgustin, Minister of Labor and Social Policy of Ukraine, Mikhail Papiev and members of Parliament.
On May 26, Metropolitan Laurus, Metropolitan Onufry and the delegation of the Church Abroad visited Koretsk Holy Trinity Stavropighial Monastery in Rovnensk oblast. The visitors were greeted by His Eminence Archbishop Varfolomei of Rovnensk and Ostrozh, Abbess Rafaila and the nuns. This 16 th -century convent is one of the most revered monasteries in Ukraine. The visitors inspected the monastery, learned about its history and prayed at the Miracle-working Icon of the Mother of God "Pledge for Sinners." That evening, Metropolitan Laurus arrived in Uzpensky Pochaev Lavra, where he performed all-night vigil. His Eminence was joined by Metropolitan Onufry, His Eminence Archbishop Sergy of Ternopol and Kremenets, His Eminence Archbishop Feodor of Kamenets-Podolsk and Gorodoksk, Archbishop Avgustin, His Eminence Archbishop Vladimir of Pochaev and His Grace Bishop Iov of Kashirsk.
On May 27, the day of the Pentecost, Metropolitan Laurus and the bishops and clergymen of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church led a solemn service in Uspensky Cathedral at Pochaev Lavra. At the end of great vespers, Metropolitan Onufry, with the blessing of the Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, welcomed the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia to Pochaevan soil. In his response, Vladyka Laurus said, in part: "On this festive day of the Pentecost, when we sing: 'He called all to unity, and with one voice we glorify the all-holy Spirit,' in this blessed hour of our communion, I recall the divinely-inspired words of the Psalm-singer and Prophet David, which contain a profound, eternal truth: 'How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity' (Psalm 133:1). During our visit to the hospitable lands of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is celebrating the 15 th anniversary of the Kharkov Council, I and my fellow-travelers were able to see for ourselves the eternal truth of these words. We sensed the joy of communion and of togetherness, we saw the spiritual elation that the fullness of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church met us everywhere.
"Returning to Pochaev is a return to our roots and spiritual legacy, which we always felt through our hierarchs, Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky) of blessed memory and Archbishop Vitaly (Maximenko)."
To mark the joint service, Metropolitan Laurus presented the brethren of Uspensky Pochaev Lavra, in memory of the decades-long bond between the monastery and Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, an icon of St Job of Pochaev, St John of Shanghai and San Francisco, with images of the journey of the monastery's St Job of Pochaev publishing efforts. A moleben was then served in Holy Trinity Cathedral.
At the end of the service, a monastic trapeza was offered, after which the delegation of the Russian Church Abroad examined the monastery and venerated its great holy relics: the Pochaev Icon of the Mother of God and the holy relics of St Job of Pochaev, and also visited the monastery caves. (A photo-report of the visit of His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus to Pochaev Lavra will be posted soon.)
That evening, the delegation returned to Kiev.
On May 27, the feast day of the Holy Spirit, Metropolitan Laurus, Metropolitan Onufry and the delegation of the Russian Church Abroad prayed during Divine Liturgy at the Far Caves of the Uspensky Kievo-Pecheraskaya Lavra, in the church containing the relics of Holy Hieromartyr Vladimir, Metropolitan of Kiev. All the members of the delegation partook of the Holy Gifts. Then, His Beatitude Metropolitan Vladimir hosted a reception at his residence in honor of His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus. He awarded his esteemed guest the Jubilee Order of the Holy Synod in honor of the 15 th anniversary of the Kharkov Council of Bishops. Vladyka Laurus thanked Metropolitan Vladimir for his invitation to visit the holy sites of Ukraine. In memory of "our joint prayer here, upon the Golgotha of Holy Hieromartyr Vladimir," he gave Vladyka Vladimir a crucifix and icon of St John of Shanghai and San Francisco.
After the reception, Metropolitan Laurus met with the press of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, telling of this day in the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, shared his impressions on visiting the monasteries. His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus concluded his visit to Ukraine, appropriately, together with Metropolitan Onufry and the delegation, by walking upon the part of the road along which, 89 years ago, Holy Hieromartyr Vladimir walked towards his execution. The bishops and members of the delegation prostrated themselves before the cross indicating the site of his martyrdom, and prayed.
According to the members of the delegation, the most impressive moments of this pilgrimage were the greeting of His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus in Pochaev Lavra, the divine services and singing there, the veneration of its relics, the visit to the Near and Far Caves of Kievo-Pecherskaya Lavra, Divine Liturgy there, their meetings with His Beatitude Metropolitan Vladimir and His Eminence Metropolitan Onufry, with the archpastors, pastors, monastics and flock of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate.