If many Russians consider Australia the end of the Earth, then the Kingdom of Tonga in the south-western part of the Pacific Ocean, consisting of 176 islands, represents the furthest reaches of the globe.
Tonga’s islands were discovered for Europe by the Dutch seamen Willem Schouten and Jacob Le Maire in 1616. In 1773, the English explorer James Cook called the archipelago the “Friendly Islands.” In 1900, the archipelago became a British protectorate. At the same time, Tonga preserved all rights to self-governance. The islands’ independence was granted in 1970. Tonga is now a member nation of the UN, the South Pacific Commission and the Forum of Pacific Islands.
Today, Monday February 20, 2012, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, in response to an official invitation by the Speaker of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, His Excellency Cemil Çiçek, travelled to Ankara where he deliberated for an hour with its Inter-Party Committee for the revision of the country’s Constitution under the chairmanship of His Excellency Atilla Kart, parliamentary member for Konya for the Turkish Opposition Party.
Primate of the Georgian Orthodox Church visits Russian Ecclesiastical Mission during his pilgrimage to the Holy Land23. February 2012 - 14:00
On 16 February 2012, His Holiness and Beatitude Catholicos Patriarch of All Georgia Iliya II arrived in the Holy Land to begin his pilgrimage.
Patriarch Iliya is accompanied by Metropolitan Gerasim of Zugdidi and Tsaish; Metropolitan Dimitri of Batumi and Lazeti, administrator of the Georgian parishes in North America and Canada; Metropolitan Saba of Khoni and Samtredia; and by other clergymen, representatives of science and art, benefactors, and the choir of the Tbilisi Holy Trinity Cathedral.
On February 16, 2012, a solemn divine service was held at the Cathedral of the Resurrection in Tokyo to mark the centennial of the demise of St. Nicholas of Japan Equal-to-the-Apostles. The cathedral is known more popularly as the Nikolai-do. Expressed in this name is respect of ordinary Japanese for the memory of Russia’s great son who brought Orthodox faith to the islands of the Land of the Rising Sun.
Metropolitan Hilarion meets with faculty and students of the Russian Orthodox Theological Seminary in Paris21. February 2012 - 11:50
On 18 February 2012, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations (DECR), visited the Russian Orthodox Theological Seminary in Paris.
He was met by the chancellor, Bishop Nestor of Korsun; by hieromonk Alexander (Siniakov), rector of the seminary; faculty and students. The choir of seminarians sang while Metropolitan Hilarion venerated the relics at the Church of St. Geneviève.