A concert of Russian sacred music was held at the Vatican 5/20/2010 attended by Met. Hilarion Volokolamsky, the Pope and more than 7000 guests from around the world. Before the concert Met. Hilarion read a congratulatory message to MP Kirill and to the Pope….
MET. HILARION : “Today’s concert is organized in the context of the cultural ties that exist between the Roman Catholic Church and the Moscow Patriarchate. The relations between our Churches today are developing and I hope will develop in all directions and in the future, covering all aspects of church life. I am convinced that Orthodox and Catholics should work together, should not wait, for the moment that all the theological differences between us to disappear. We can not have illusions that this will happen quickly. However, we must now act not as rivals but as allies, especially in Europe.
Your Holiness, we support your call for a new evangelization of Europe. However, we believe that no church, even so large and strong, as the Roman Catholic church, is not able to implement it alone. We should be together. We have a common field of missionary work – today’s de-Christianize Europe, having lost their religious, moral and cultural roots.
Faced with secularization, consumer ideology and moral relativism. But together we, the Orthodox and Catholics, can reveal to our contemporaries, Christian humanism, and moral values of family, marital fidelity, the value of life itself, since its conception until its natural end, and by doing so, we not only help the Europeans to gain a spiritual and moral meaning to their lives, but also help our continent, which is currently experiencing a very serious crisis of identity, regain their spiritual and cultural roots. ”
After the concert, his date, the Pope added his closing remarks…
POPE : “First of all, I am deeply grateful to His Holiness Patriarch Cyril. I heartily thank also the Metropolitan Hilarion for the words of welcome for his tireless work in the field of inter-Christian relations and musical creations, which today we can appreciate in dignity. However, it welcomed the delegation of the Moscow Patriarchate, distinguished representatives of the diplomatic corps, all the brothers and sisters, and, above all, the Russians taking part in today’s celebration.”
On May 17, 2010 Met. Hilarion with the blessing of MP Kirill, officiated at a matins service before the Shroud of Turin in the cathedral of Turin, assisted by Archbishop Feofan of Berlin and Germany, Archbishop Innokenty of Korsun, administrator of the Moscow Patriarchate parishes in Italy; Archbishops Kirill of Yaroslavl and Rostov, Feognost of Sergiev Posad and Yelisey of Surozh, as well as Bishop Michael of Geneva and Western Europe (ROCA/MP), and about one hundred priests and deacons from Russia and other countries.
Also present in the cathedral were Cardinal Severino Poletto, Archbishop of Turin, and clergy of the archdiocese. Before the service, Cardinal Poletto greeted the DECR chairman, bishops and clergy and numerous pilgrims. He reminded the congregation that His Holiness Kirill came to venerate the Shroud of Turin ten years ago when he was Metropolitan of Smolensk and Kaliningrad and officiated at vespers at the shrine. The Archbishop of Turin asked to convey the best wishes to His Holiness.
Over 800 pilgrims from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Italy, Germany, Great Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland and other countries also came to the service.
.. After the service, Met. Hilarion addressed the pilgrims…
MET. HILARION : “There are many proofs of this shrine’s authenticity. But what is the most important thing for us is the church’s tradition which testifies that this relic has been preserved from the earliest centuries of Christianity. The Shroud, in which the body of our Lord Jesus Christ was wrapped during the burial, is mentioned in all the four Gospels ( I have found only Luke’s and John’s Gospels making mention of Christ’s burial clothing and they say strips of cloth, nothing about a large, solid one piece shroud) . Certainly, the Evangelists would not have mentioned this cover if it had not been kept by the faithful as a great shrine from the earliest Christian times. Later we heard a story of our Saviour’s image not made with hands ( the Holy Napkin,which Christ had sent to the king of Edessus, Abgar, to cure his daughter, which would have to be entirely different from Christ’s burial cloths since this event happened before Christ’s death and resurrection ) . It used to hang over the church gates in Edessus and later was brought to Constantinople. It disappeared subsequently without trace in the era of crusades. And some time later, already in the West, this Shroud reappeared.
We will never know whether the Shroud of Turin is that Not-Made-With-Hands Image of Christ.( The Holy Napkin is associated in the Western Roman tradition with St Veronica and Veronica’s veil as well as the Shroud of Turin) The shroud and the Holy napkin being one in the same is a belief. It is known however that for centuries the Shroud was kept folded in such a way that people could see only the face of our Saviour, not his whole body impressed on the Shroud. So quite probably the Not-Made-With-Hands Image from Edessus is that same Shroud at which we are praying today. Even if it is a different image, we know from the Gospel According to St. John, which you have heard just now, that along with the Shroud there was also a Veil, (cloths, as in strips of wrappings, and a facial cloth according to John’s gospel) which was put on Jesus’ face during the burial.
Standing before this shrine, we remember first of all the suffering and death of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have come here today from different countries – Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, from all over Italy, from France, Great Britain, Spain, Portugal. One can innumerate many countries from which Orthodox pilgrims have flocked over here. What moved us when we were coming here, taking upon ourselves the burdens of journey? – The love of Christ. We have come here to worship our divine Savior and to pray at this great shrine for ourselves and for our loved ones, to ask blessing from our Lord Jesus Christ who ascended the Cross for the sake of each of us, suffered, died and rose from the dead.
Today we have heard the Gospel telling us about the death and resurrection of our Savior. We have heard the words from the divine service of the Great Saturday when the Church praises our Savior who died for us and descended into hell for our sake. Every human word becomes silent at this great shrine; here every human vanity stops. All our problems, concerns and passions go to the background because here we stand before our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, who was crucified and who died for people. We feel his presence among us and ask him not to deprive us of his grace.
Ten years ago the Lord vouchsafed me a chance to visit this holy church and participate in vespers led by the then chairman of the Department for External Church Relations and the present Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia. Ten years later I am happy to be here again and to pray before this greatest Christian shrine (greatest ? I thought that the Holy Sepulcher would be considered the greatest) together with an assembly of Russian Orthodox bishops and pilgrims from many countries of the world.”
Metropolitan Hilarion warmly thanked the Archbishop of Turin Cardinal Poletto for the permission to celebrate an Orthodox service in the church and presented him with an image of our Savior produced by the Moscow Patriarchate’s art shops.