Russian Patriarch Kirill visits Patriarchate of Jerusalem

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, who arrived in Jerusalem on Friday, was accompanied by a solemn procession of clerics and laypeople on his way from the Jaffa Gate to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre inside the Old City.

Thousands of believers gathered in front of the church, which is the holiest site for Christians across the world, to greet Patriarch Kirill and Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III, who met him. The two patriarchs held a short divine service.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre has for centuries been one of the most important pilgrimage destinations for millions of Christians as the purported site of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Patriarch Theophilos III addressed Patriarch Kirill, for whom it is the first visit to the Holy Land since he was elected to head the Russian Orthodox Church in 2009, with a solemn speech, in which he noted the importance of brotherly relations between the two Orthodox Churches.

Patriarch Kirill said each Christian dreams of visiting the Holy Land.

 “For the first time I have come to the Holy Land to offer prayers on behalf of the entire Russian Church that chose me as its Primate,” the patriarch said, adding that he will in particular pray for peace around the world.

During his six-day stay, Patriarch Kirill is expected to visit Christian holy sites in Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan.

The site, located within the Christian Quarter of the walled Old City of Jerusalem, attracts more than 1 million pilgrims annually.