Patriarch Kirill begins visit to Ukraine

KIEV, July 26 (Itar-Tass) — Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Kirill begins on Tuesday a visit to Ukraine, the main aim of which is to participate in festivities marking the Baptism of Rus Day, which has been celebrated in Kiev starting from 2008.

This year, Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia will for the first time take part in the festivities. Prior to leaving for Kiev he said he would meet late on Tuesday with Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia to discuss “the state of relations between Russia and Georgia”.

On July 27, Kirill and Ilia II together with Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine Vladimir will hold a divine service at the monument to Grand Prince Saint Vladimir Svyatoslavich, the Baptiser of Russia, on St. Vladimir’s Hill.

On July 28, the Baptism of Rus Day, there will be a joint liturgy. During his visit, Patriarch Kirill will also take part in a session of the Holy Synod, will make a speech at the unveiling of an international forum of Orthodox women, will meet with rectors of Ukrainian universities, put flowers to the memorial to victims of Holodomor and to the memorial of Eternal Glory at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Traditionally, gala concerts will be organized on July 28 in Kiev, Moscow and Minsk. The first such concert bringing together over 30,000 spectators was held in Kiev in 2008. Metropolitan Kirill and renowned priest Andrei Kurayev addressed the youth at the concert. Their speeches were met with a great ovation.

The previous meeting between Ilia II and Patriarch Kirill was held in Baku November 2009 where they participated in the celebration of the 60th anniversary of Sheikh-ul-Islam Allahshukur Pashazade and the 30th anniversary of his activity as head of Muslims of the Caucasus. They traditionally maintain close contacts. The leaders of the two churches have repeatedly stressed the need to maintain and develop friendly relations between the two nations.

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