Vladimir Putin congratulated the Patriarch of his Name Day, Ascension Day and the Day of Slavic Writing and Culture. The President presented the icon of the Ascension as a gift to the head of the Russian Orthodox Church.
After that, Vladimir Putin and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia met with Archbishop Hieronymus II of Athens and all Greece, who is paying a visit to Russia.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Your Holiness, I would like to congratulate you on your Name Day and on the Day of Slavic Writing and Culture. I would also like to thank you for the active support you personally and the Church are giving to our traditions, including through your active involvement in the organisation of festivities. I think this is very important for strengthening our spiritual foundations and our culture.
Thank you very much.
Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia: Thank you.
It is true that this holiday is celebrated in most Slavic nations, and it has a great tradition in Russia, which already spans more than 20 years. I must say that with every year, people participate in it more actively and with greater awareness.
We have a very extensive programme of events: conferences, round tables, concerts. But the day began according to tradition – at the Assumption Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin, then with a procession to Vasilievsky Spusk. And today, more than ten thousand people have gathered to celebrate, even though it is a weekday.
There were prayers before the Iver icon, which you gave to the church, and today was the icon’s first public worship. Because after you gave it to the Russian Orthodox Church, there were some technical procedures to follow – a protective icon case, so that the icon could be transported. And today, we had a public worship, and naturally, the people prayed very happily, with very warm feelings, before this holy shrine.
Vladimir Putin: You know, when I gave it to you, the truth is that it was the first time I saw it myself, and I found myself thinking that I wanted to look at it all the time.
Patriarch Kirill: Yes, the icon is marvellous.
Vladimir Putin: It is very beautiful, beautifully painted. The Iver icon of the Mother of God attracts you like a magnet, and I constantly wanted to turn around and look.
Patriarch Kirill: I had the same feeling today: the icon was standing with St Basil’s Cathedral in the background, with an enormous number of people before it, and St Basil’s Cathedral, and I just imagined the times when the image was brought from Mount Athos, and when the Tsar greeted the icon together with everyone. I imagine something like this happened right here, on the Red Square.
We are reviving good traditions, connecting timesthat were torn apart by historic tragedies, and this means that the nation has a spiritual and cultural basis for development.
Vladimir Putin (speaking to Archbishop Hieronymus II of Athens and all Greece): Your Beatitude, please allow us to welcome you to your first visit to Russia. I am grateful to you that you have found time to come today, when we are marking the Name Day of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and the Day of Slavic Writing and Culture.
On this day, the spiritual roots that unite us are particularly vivid. I am certain that you will like Russia. I know that you have a busy programme. We are very happy to see you.
Archbishop Hieronymus II of Athens and All Greece (re-translated): Mr President, in accordance with church practice, I am making a peaceful official visit on the invitation of His Excellency the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia. This peaceful visit is intended to embrace thepeace from the patriarchy and bring that same pace to the patriarchy. This is a time when all people want peace.
We chose this day because it is a great day for Christianity – it is Ascension Day, as well as the day of Saints Kirill and Methodius. We would also like to celebrate the Name Day of the holiest Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.
I feel the need to also say that both my companions and I are also celebrating another event – the coming to power in Russia of as great a person as you, Your Excellency.
As you already said, our peoples are linked by many centuries of history – these ties span over many centuries, even before the advent of Christianity in Russia, the colonisation that Greek settlers brought to the territory of your nation.
But most of all, we are united by the Orthodox faith. We would like to specifically emphasise this today, to ensure great relations between all our Orthodox peoples. Because it is precisely during these times, more than ever, that we need each another’s support. And so we feel that you can also help us in this, and we are hoping for it.