A delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church led by Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations (DECR), arrived in Beirut on 8 December 2012 with the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia to attend funeral ceremonies for His Beatitude Ignatius IV, Patriarch of the Great Antioch and All the East. The delegation includes archpriest Nikolai Balashov, DECR deputy chairman; hieromonk Stefan (Igumnov), a DECR staff member; and Mr. Leonid Sevastianov, executive director of the St. Gregory the Theologian Charity Foundation.
Metropolitan Saba (Esper) was elected Locum Tenens of the throne of the patriarchs of Antioch. The appointment came on Friday, 7 December 2012, during a meeting at Balamand monastery, some 85 kilometers north of Beirut. Metropolitan Saba has jurisdiction over the south areas of Syria. Lebanese leaders announced Sunday as an official day of mourning over the patriarch’s death and described Hazim’s death as a loss for Lebanon and the region.
In 2010-2011, the Russian government has voluntarily contributed 2 million US dollars to the UNESCO to finance the restoration of Orthodox holy sites in Kosovo, Republic of Serbia.
The decision was taken in compliance with the UN Security Council Resolution 1244 on Kosovo and within the UNESCO international action on humanitarian aid to the Republic of Serbia in restoration and maintaining its monuments of culture.
Patriarch Ignatius IV (Hazim) of Antioch and All the East was born in 1920 in the village of Muharda, near the city of Hama Syria. In 1936, he moved to Beirut, where he became an altar server. Years later, upon taking monastic vows, he became a hierodeacon. In 1945 he graduated from the American University of Beirut, and from 1949 to 1953 studied at the Saint Sergius Theological Institute in Paris. On his return to Lebanon, the young theologian with a master's degree was ordained hieromonk. In 1942, he became one of the founders of the influential Orthodox Youth Movement in Lebanon and Syria, which has done much to renew youthful participation in Church life.
In 1953, the future Patriarch became one of the organizers of Syndesmos the worldwide Brotherhood of Orthodox Youth. In 1961 he was ordained Bishop of Palmyra and Patriarchal Vicar, and in the following year, he was sent to the monastery of Balamand as superior and as dean of the Theological Seminary founded, which in 1988 was transformed into an Orthodox University, the first in the Middle East. He has published a series of theological books and numerous articles. His Beatitude is an honorary doctor of Sorbonne and Saint-Petersburg (1981) and Minsk (2003) Theological Academies.
The Patriarchate of Antioch informs that Patriarch Ignatius IV of blessed repose will be buried in Damascus on Monday, 10 December 2012, after the funeral service at the Cathedral Church of the Most Holy Mother of God (Mariamite Cathedral). Before that, on Sunday, 9 December 2012, the funeral service will be served at the church of Saint Nicholas in Beirut. The Patriarchate of Antioch invites all Local Orthodox Churches to participate at the funeral service on Sunday, 9 December 2012.