SMOLENSK, July 15 (Itar-Tass) — Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill who’s paying a two-day visit to the Smolensk region, said on Saturday that the construction of new Orthodox churches and educational establishments should strengthen the spiritual foundation of the lives of Russian people.
“When we build churches, open schools, gymnasiums and kindergartens, we make just the first steps. It’s vitally important that all this starts working and strengthening the spiritual foundation of people’s lives because there’s no nation without such a foundation,” Patriarch Kirill said at the Assumption Cathedral in Smolensk.
Patriarch Kirill who used to be the ruling hierarch of Smolensk for 25 years decorated many parishioners with church awards for their help to the Russian Orthodox Church and instructed the city’s new Governor Alexey Ostrovsky to serve his people. The patriarch also decorated Orthodox Priest Georgy Urbanovich, the rector of the Smolensk theological school, with the Order of Metropolitan Makariy (Bulgakov).
“The Smolensk theological school is the first religious institution of the Russian Orthodox Church that got accreditation from the state and has the right to issue state-recognized diplomas. We set the same objective to all other theological schools but the one in Smolensk has turned out to be ahead of our biggest and most significant educational centers,” Patriarch Kirill went on to say.
The Smolensk theological school is working on a project of cooperation with the Smolensk Institute of Professional Upgrading which organizes two-year training and re-training courses for teachers in the basics of Christian Orthodox culture. Graduates of military institutions of high learning who want to become clergymen and serve as chaplains in military units may soon start getting education at the Smolensk theological school.
More than 2,000 people attended an evening service at the Assumption Cathedral. The Smolensk Icon of the God Mother named ‘Hodegetria’ is the church’s main relic. In Russian, ‘Hodegetria’ means Way-Guide. During the Patriotic War of 1812 the icon was in the army of Field Marshall Kutuzov. A religious procession will carry the Icon of the God Mother of Hodegetria from Smolensk to Vyazma in August-September 1812 as part of the celebrations of the 200th anniversary of Russia’s victory in the 1812 Patriotic War against Napoleon.
On Sunday, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church will consecrate a memorial Church of Christ’s Resurrection in Katyn built outside the Katyn memorial.