JERUSALEM, June 26 (Itar-Tass) – Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has attended an early morning vigil service in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem.
Tuesday was one of the few days in the year when a brief vigil service was held from 01:00 to 02:00 hours.
Fr. Isidore, the father superior of the church, the Eastern Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III and brethren of the church welcomed Putin at the doors.
Upon entering the Church, Putin knelt at the by Stone of Anointing, on which Christ’s body had laid after being taken from the Cross and prepared for entombment.
From there, Putin was taken to the Edicule, a chapel built over the cave was Jesus was buried and where the Holy Flame descends on the eve of the Eastern Orthodox Pascha /Easter/.
The Russian President also went up to the Golgotha where he knelt in front of the great Christian shrines, and then descended to the grotto where the Cross of the Crucifix had been discovered.
The Father Superior of the Armenian church, which is part of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre pointed out that Tuesday is the day of veneration of the St Constantine and his mother, St Helena.
“And it was precisely on this day that the Lord brought you here,” the Armenian priest said. He blessed Putin and all the people of Russia.
From the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the most sacred place for all the Christians in the world, Putin proceeded to the Wailing Wall, the main shrine of Judaism. He was accompanied by Berl Lazar and Adolf Shayevich, the two chief rabbis representing the two main religious trends in the Russian Jewish community.
They recounted the history of the shrine to Putin. The Wailing Wall represents the only surviving fragment of the Second Temple of Jerusalem that was built at the site of the Temple of Solomon upon the return of the Jewish people of the Biblical era after the Babylonian exile and dramatically expanded by Herod the Great at around 20 BC.
“This Temple wasn’t the shrine of the Jewish people only – it was the shrine of all the people who believed in One God, the Father of all the nations who trusted in His help, and that’s why to pray here is a mandatory thing for everyone,” Berl Lazar told reporters later.
He said Putin had joined rabbi Shayevich and himself in a prayer for Russia and the peoples living there.
At the end of the excursion, Putin had a conversation with an orthodox Jew who asked him in Russian to pray for a rebuilding of the Temple, destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.
“Then peace will descend on to the Earth and there’ll be universal happiness,” said the Jewish man who resettled to Israel in the 1990’s to engage in profound studies of Judaism.
Putin was also shown around the tunnels located under the Temple Mount and representing the underground structures of the Second Temple.