".. as leader of the most numerous Orthodox Church.."
[Vatopedi's Igumen Ephraim had previously brought "the belt of the Theotokos" to Russia.]
June 2013, 10:12
Senior Athos monk praises Russia, urges global
Mount Athos, June 7, Interfax - The abbot of the Vatopedi
Monastery on Mount Athos, Archimandrite Ephraim, praised Russia and called for
global Orthodox unity.
"Even though it has been nearly a year and a half,
our taking the Cincture of the Theotokos to Russia, the main relic of our
monastery, is still fresh in our memory," Ephraim said after a prayer service at
Vatopedi on Thursday that he co-led with the head of the Russian Orthodox
Church, Patriarch Kirill.
Nearly 4 million people, including top Russian
leaders, came to see the cincture and partake of its supposed miraculous powers
while it was shown in various Russian cities between October 20 and November 28,
2011. It had been brought to Russia by Father Ephraim.
said the crowds that had come to venerate the cincture in Russia "may be
considered the largest peaceful assembly of people worldwide in the 20 and 21st
"Nearly 4 million people kissed the holy cincture, and quite
many of them queued for more than 17 hours to do this. Numerous miracles
occurred while the holy cincture was [in Russia]. They are still continuing,
especially miracles of childbirth. In some of the regions, visiting the relic
helped solve demographic problems. Statistics show an inexplicable rise in the
birth rate," Fr. Ephraim said.
"We have been able to see the great
strength of the Orthodox Russian people. The power of the Church remains great
in our days. The Russian Church as the most numerous enjoys great power and
influence all over the world. We can never forget the immense support that you
gave us at a time of ordeal," he said.
He credited Russia with continual
help to Vatopedi and the entire Mount Athos during Ottoman rule and claimed
there are special historical ties between Vatopedi and Russia. He mentioned that
Vatopedi keeps about 1,500 old Russian icons, which are considered the largest
collection of Russian icons outside Russia.
The monastery also keeps
letters from Russian emperors stating donations to Vatopedi and asking for
relics to be temporarily brought to Russia.
Today "traditional values are
questioned and there are more and more crises of various kinds," the abbot
"We have reached a point where the entire Orthodox community needs
to unify. This is a necessary condition for Orthodoxy to manifest itself as true
Divine revelation and the true way of life for everyone. Today Orthodoxy must
show its true universal character. Your, Your Holiness, as the leader of the
most numerous Orthodox Church, would be able to help achieve this," Fr. Ephraim
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