Feast-day celebrations at Geneva’s Exaltation of the Cross Cathedral in Western Europe

The Feast of the Universal Exaltation of the Cross of Christ, the altar feast of the Geneva Russian Orthodox Cathedral, was solemnly celebrated by His Grace Bishop Irenei of London and Western Europe.

The Divine Services of the feast were celebrated by the Ruling Bishop, co-served by the senior cleric of the Diocese, Archpriest Pavel Tzvetkoff, Archpriest Emilien Pocinoc and Archdeacon Dometien (Redko), and several diocesan clergy from nearby parishes — Priest Pavel Golynsky, Priest Aviv Saliou-Diallo, and Priest Vladimir Svystun — together with a close friend of the parish, Archpriest Michael Gundyaev, rector of the Patriarchal parish in Geneva.

At the conclusion of the great doxology of the vigil, Bishop Irenei performed the Rite of the Elevation of the Cross — a special service for the Feast, performed only in major cathedrals or in large monasteries, by a bishop. The precious cross of Christ, having been solemnly borne into the center of the temple and adorned with beautiful flowers, was, five times, slowly lowered to the earth and then raised high above the heads of all by the Hierarch, as the choir sang “Lord, have mercy” 100 times for each for the five elevations. Throughout, rose-water was poured by the priests upon the cross in the Bishop’s hands, symbolizing the life that flows from the Cross of the Savior — and this water fell upon flowers that were later distributed to the faithful.

This unique rite, done in memorial of the lifting up of the Precious Cross upon its discovery by the Empress St Helena in the fourth century, holds a special place in the hearts of the Geneva faithful, and the faithful of the whole region, since, the Cathedral being dedicated to this feast, it is one of the few places where the full rite of Elevation is routinely performed.

On the feast day itself, during the reading of the third hour, a pious layman of the Cathedral, Antoine Barros, was tonsured a Reader.

At the end of the Divine Liturgy, Vladyka Irenei greeted the clergy and faithful with a homily on the the message of the Cross as a message of “foolishness” to the world, but Grace and strength to all Christians — as the Apostle Paul proclaims in the day’s reading. His Grace was then greeted by the local clergy, before the people came forward to venerate the Cross.

A meal of traditional Genevan hospitality followed the feast, during which a special concert was performed by the children’s choir of the Cathedral. A banquet then followed, and Bishop Irenei remained throughout the day, meeting with clergy and faithful.



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