The Christmas message reads, in part:
“I cordially wish you all a merry Christmas.
This wonderful holiday brings people joy and hope, unites them with timeless spiritual and moral values, and the traditions of compassion and charity. This holiday is associated with various national and family customs that are being passed on from one generation to another; with sincere faith in positive change and the fulfilment of the most cherished dreams.
I am pleased to note that the Russian Orthodox Church and other Christian denominations play a large, positive role in the life of our country, ensure social harmony, strengthen families, and educate the youth. They are doing a lot to solve pressing social issues and ensure harmony in the interethnic and interreligious dialogues. Such fruitful and relevant work deserves deep appreciation and respect.
I wish health, success and prosperity to all Orthodox Christians and all Russians celebrating Christmas.”
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The President attended the Christmas service held at the Transfiguration Cathedral (The Cathedral of the Lord's Transfiguration of all the Guards) in St Petersburg. The Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Northwestern Federal District Alexander Gutsan and Acting Governor of St Petersburg Alexander Beglov also attended the mass. After the service, the President had a brief conversation with cathedral’s dean Nikolai Bryndin and donated the Christ Pantocrator icon to the cathedral.
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The construction of the Transfiguration Cathedral was ordered by the Empress Elizabeth of Russia to thank the Preobrazhensky Regiment guards for their help in her accession to the throne. During the reign of Emperor Paul I of Russia, the cathedral received the honorary title ”of all the guards”.
Even after the revolution, the cathedral continued to function, remaining active throughout the whole Soviet era. During the siege of Leningrad, its priests opened a bomb shelter in the cathedral’s basement and provided locals with all possible assistance.
Today, the Transfiguration Cathedral is one of the most visited cathedrals in St Petersburg. The list of its sacred objects includes the Icon of Christ of Edessa and the Icon of the Mother of God, Joy of All Who Sorrow. The cathedral is also known for its choir that features soloists of the Glinka State Academic Capella.