|CYPRUS - Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill received in Lanarca Saint Lazarus' relics|
June 13 - A delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church led by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia brought part of the relics of Saint Lazarus given to Russia by the Church of Cyprus to the Vnukovo-3 airport on Monday evening.
The Patriarch and the clergy served a prayer service near the arc containing the holy relics at the airport.
The holy relics were then given to Archbishop of Istra Arseniy, who will take them to the Moscow Zachatyesky Monastery, where they will be put up for worship.
The holy relics were given to Patriarch Kirill during his four-days visit to Cyprus. The ceremony was held in the Saint Lazarus Church in Larnaca.
Saint Lazarus was resurrected by Christ. Pharisees later wanted to kill Saint Lazarus, but he fled them. Believers pray for healing at his relics.
The Saint Lazarus Church in Larnaca was built in the late 9th or early tenth century A.D. on the grave of the saint, who, according to the legend, was appointed by Apostles Paul and Varnava as first bishop of Kitium (old name for Larnaca). His grave was found in 890 A.D.
In the period between the thirteenth century through the sixteenth century, the church was owned by a Catholic community. It was used as a mosque for a short time during the Ottoman rule. It was bought by an Orthodox community in 1589.
The church has 19th century silver icon setting, which was given to the church by Russian pilgrims, and the church museum has a lot of church implements, which was also received as a gift. The 1970 fire destroyed almost all of the internal furnishings of the church. Human remains that were later identified as Saint Lazarus' relics were found inside the church.
Russia has obtained the relics of Saint Lazarus.
The shrine with the relics was handed over to the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church in the church of Saint Lazarus of the Four Days in Larnaca, Cyprus, in a move that ended Patriarch Kirill’s visit to the insular state. The Russian Patriarch visited Cyprus from the 8th to the 11th of this month.
Legend has it that the righteous Lazarus, whom Jesus called a friend, was resurrected by God Incarnate on the fourth day of his death. Since the Judaic grand people were outraged at the very fact of resurrection, Lazarus had to flee from Judaea. He was put into a rickety boat without oars, and reached Cyprus in several days’ time thanks to the wind. There he met St. Apostles Paul and Varnava, who made him Bishop of Kityon, and there he lived until the end of his days. The local residents loved him for his true faith. When the righteous Lazarus died, he was buried in the environs of the ancient city of Kityon. The place eventually came to be known as Larnaca, and the name was later given to the modern-day city of Larnaca.
When the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church accepted the shrine with the relics of the Saint from the Father Superior of the church of Saint Lazarus in Larnaca, he pointed out the importance of the gift for believers.
"There can’t be a greater gift than this one, Patriarch Kirill says. We will take these relics to Moscow and put them in a place where many people will be able to touch them. Anyone worshipping the holy relics will learn of your gift. This relic worshipping will make the Russian people’s love for Cyprus and the Church of Cyprus ever stronger."
The relics of the righteous Lazarus were attained in the year 898 A.D. under Byzantine Emperor Leo VI the Wise and taken to the city of Constantinople (currently Istanbul), where they were put into a silver reliquary. The relics work wonders and heal from a host of illnesses. That’s the reason why thousands of pilgrims from around the world come to the church of Saint Lazarus, where the Saint’s relics are also held.
The handover of a Christian shrine to Patriarch Kirill is a sign of respect the Orthodox Church of Cyprus is showing towards the Russian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Krisostomus of Kityon stressed.
"Our hearts, Metropolitan Krisostomus says, are overflowed with sacred feelings and sincere jubilation because your presence here enables our pious and long-suffering people to get a blessing from the famous Russian Orthodox Patriarch – something that is decorated with humility, temperance, splendor and love. We are keeping a watchful eye on your activity that reflects grandeur of Orthodox faith and helps us hope for the best society in the world which could be based on principles of love, equality and recognition of basis human rights," Metropolitan Krisostomus concludes.
The Russian Orthodox Church and the Orthodox Church of Cyprus started expanding ties centuries ago. Russian pilgrims, travelers, seamen, diplomats and merchants used to visit the island to pay tribute to its shrines and have a rest there. In their memoirs, they piled praise on what they described as “blessed land”, where Russian icon painters had often helped to emblaze local churches. Suffice it to mention the famous Monastery of the Mother of God of Kykkos which was visited by Patriarch Kirill.
"I took part in the process of reconstructing the monastery when I was Metropolitan of Smolensk, Patriarch Kirill says.
In the 1990s, I blessed a group of eminent Russian restorers who travelled to Cyprus to contribute to the reconstruction of the monastery. I have never been to the monastery since then, and now I would like to heap praise on the work of Russian icon painters," Patriarch Kirill adds.
In 1998, then-patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus Krisostomus took part in the festivities dedicated to the 1,000th anniversary of the baptism of Russia. Russian nationals began to settle on the island in the early 1990s, and regular divine services are currently performed in the Church Slavonic language at a church in Limassol. This helped to resolve the problem of popularizing spiritual values among local Orthodox Russians. During his visit to the Limassol Island, Patriarch Kirill visited the ceremony of laying the corner stone to build a first Russian Orthodox church on the island, where 4 Russian-language schools are located. Right now, Russian is studied as the second foreign language in the country’s many higher educational establishments.
As for relics of Saint Lazarus, they will be preserved at the Moscow Zachyatyevo Convent. The Russian Orthodox Church, in turn, handed over a sarcophagus of relics of Russian saintss, as well as 19 icons which have been painted by Russian icon painters in the past several years to the Cyprus churches and monasteries.