Although being at the first glance a purely Muslim republic with strong national traits and traditions, Tatarstan has many venerated shrines of the Russian Orthodox Church. The capital of Tatarstan itself observes the strict rule that regulates the number of churches and mosques within the city limits.
The region boasts unique Russian churches and monasteries that are stunningly picturesque, yet in the middle of nowhere, with the mighty Volga on one side and virgin wood covering steep slopes on the other.
A church in the east end of Glasgow is to be consecrated as the first place of worship for the Romanian Orthodox Church in Scotland. Shettleston Old Parish Church will host a special inauguration ceremony at 3pm this Sunday as it becomes the home for Romanian Orthodox followers in the city.
The Russian Orthodox Church predicts, in case the West finally refuses its Christian heritage, it will face "war of all against all."
"When the West tries to expel, to erase every reminder of Christ from public space, it's pathology of fighting against their own conscience, their own tradition. It won't surprise me, if the West loses itself entirely in this fight," Deputy Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin said on Saturday in the Orthodox Encyclopedia TV program on TV Center.
On the Eve of Orthodox Christmas, interim head of the Russian Orthodox Church Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad congratulated Orthodox Christians.
"Today we recall how the Son of God came down to people so that each one of us could rejoin Him. But to allow this to happen, there must be a response on our part, response worthy of divine love - our own love, active and sacrificial," the Metropolitan said in his Christmas message to believers.
During the Angelus of the Epiphany Benedict XVI sends his greetings to Orthodox communities, thanks all those who are trying to build peace between Israelis and Palestinians and calls for the release of tens of children abducted in the DRC. He also talks about the "disarming meekness of love" and the world's hostility.
Christmas by Eastern Churches (which falls tomorrow), the violent armed clashes in the Gaza Strip and the abducted children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are some of the issues the Pope mentioned in today's Angelus as he spoke to the faithful in St Peter's Square.
Before greeting thousands of pilgrims in various languages, Benedict XVI sent his greetings to the brothers and sisters of the Eastern Churches (especially that of Russia) who, "following the Julian calendar will celebrate Holy Christmas tomorrow. May the memory of the birth of the Saviour rekindle in their hearts more and more the joy of being loved by God."