GENEVA, January 23. /TASS/. Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Kirill I on Saturday led a vespers service at the Russian Orthodox Cathedral in the name of Exaltation of the Holy Cross in Geneva and had a meeting with members of the Orthodox community there.
He arrived in Switzerland on Friday to attend a conference of supreme hierarchs of national Eastern Orthodox churches, which is held in Chambesy, a suburb of Geneva.
"Since Geneva has profound traditions and roots as regards Eastern Orthodoxy, the Patriarch could not help visiting the spiritual center of Russian fellow-countrymen here, the Cathedral in the name of Exaltation of the Holy Cross, around which the Russian community has always been concentrating," the Patriarch's press secretary, priest Alexander Volkov said.
"When the Patriarch visits one or another place on missions related to inter-Church affairs, he believes it necessary to come to the fellow-Russians and to share the joy of common prayer with the congregation," he said. "The main thing for His Holiness is joint prayer together with the lay."
After the vespers service, Kirill I addressed the gathering in the cathedral. Parishioners invited him to a tea party on the ground floor of the cathedral after that.
The Patriarch talked to the parishioners and gave a blessing to them.
"I think this was an important event for the local Orthodox community and for Russian Orthodoxy in Europe in general," the Reverend Volkov said.
The Holy Cross cathedral turns 150 years old this year. It was built on a plot of land donated by the Geneva canton to the Russian mission in Switzerland free of charge specially for construction of a church on it.
Its consecration took place on September 26, 1866, on the day when the Russian Church marks the feast of Exaltation of the Holy Life-Giving Cross, precisely three years after the completion of construction works.
As the regards the history of Russian arts and literature, it is known as the wedding place of the landmark 19th century Russian painter Mikhail Vrubel. Also here, Fyodor Dostoyevsky baptized and then had a farewell service for his daughter Sofya, who died when she was only three months old.