On 3rd June 2013, His Beatitude Theodoros II, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, arrived in Beirut, Lebanon, in order that together with His Beatitude Chrysostomos Archbishop of Cyprus, to pay a fraternal visit of solidarity towards the sorely tried ancient Church of Antioch on the one hand, and on the other to intensify the pressures for liberation of the two abducted Metropolitans.
On 4th June 2013, the two Primates were welcomed at the Holy Patriarchal Balamand Monastery by His Beatitude Patriarch Ioannis I. During the meeting as well as during the media interview which followed, the Patriarch of Alexandria expressed his support for those Christians in Syria who are between the hammer and the anvil and called on them to maintain non-extinguished the flame of their optimism and hope for the resurrection of humanity, despite the severe shocks of inhumane circumstances.
On June 14, 2013, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia has arrived in Estonia. At the airport, he was met by Metropolitan Cornelius of Tallinn and All Estonia, Bishop Lazar of Narva and Prichudye, Estonia’s State Secretary Heiki Loot, Russian ambassador to Estonia, Yu, Merzlyakov, and Belarus’s Charges-des-Affaires V. Lazerko. The delegation accompanying the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church includes Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, head of the Moscow Patriarchate’s department for external church relations, Bishop Sergiy of Solnechnogorsk, head of the Moscow Patriarchate’s administrative secretariat, Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, head of the synodal department for church-society relations, V. Legoida, head of the synodal information department, Archpriest Nikolay Balashov, DECR vice-chairman, Archpriest Igor Yakimchuk, DECR secretary for inter-Orthodox relations, Protodeacon Vladimir Nazarkin, assistant to the DECR chairman, and M. Kuksov, head of the Patriarchal personal secretariat.
On June 11, 2013, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, head of the Moscow Patriarchate’s department for external church relations, met with Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro and the Coastlands, at the DECR.
Participating in their talk were also Archpriest Igor Yakimchuk, DECR secretary for inter-Orthodox relations, and Prof. V. Milovanovic, chief architect of St. Sava’s in Belgrade.
They discussed the ways to adorn St. Sava’s and other matters concerning relations between the Russian and Serbian Orthodox Churches.
The first Orthodox Church is being built in Pakistan. The faithful are hoping that construction of the Church will be completed in October of this year.
On June 6, 2013, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia visited Zograf, one of the oldest monasteries on Holy Mount Athos. He was welcomed at the gate by the abbot, Archimandrite Ambrose, and the monastic community.
His Holiness proceeded to the cathedral church of St. George the Conqueror, in which he celebrated a thanksgiving and venerated the main shrine of the monastery – the miracle-working Icon of St. George the Conqueror.
After the prayer service, Archimandrite addressed His Holiness expressing gratitude to him for coming. He also thanked Russian believers for their support of the monastery and spoke about the veneration with which the monastic community honour St. Seraphim of Sarov.
His Holiness Patriarch Kirill visited the Iveron Monastery, celebrated a prayer service and venerated the Iveron icon of the Mother of God, also called Panagia Portaitissa (Gate-keeper) at the chapel.
Hegumen of the monastery, archimandrite Nathanael welcomed His Holiness and said that the exact copy of the wonderworking icon could be found in central Moscow. “Panagia Portaitissa has become the heart of Holy Rus,’ while we have become brothers, as we have her as our common mother and intercessor. While in Moscow, we feel at home, and when we receive pilgrims here, and first of all You, Your Holiness, we feel that we receive our brothers at home?” he added.
The Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church addressed the hegumen and the brethren. He spoke at length about the history of the icon and also about the return of its first copy to the Church a year ago by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s personal instruction after the Patriarch’s request. The icon is now at its original place, at the Novodevichy Convent in Moscow. The return was a great event: many people, including myself and the President, met the icon in solemn procession of the cross, and now thousands of believers can venerate the miraculous copy of the Iberian icon of the Mother of God.