6 may 2012

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin attends ceremony of transferring ancient copy of Iveron Icon of the Mother of God to Novodevichy Convent

Vladimir Putin

At the ceremony of transferring ancient copy of Iveron Icon of the Mother of God to Novodevichy Convent

“This holy relic accompanied our ancestors throughout the centuries, both in times of peace and in times of war.”

Orthodox relics, brought to Russia from Mount Athos in 1648, was kept at Moscow’s Novodevichy Convent for over 350 years. After the convent closed, the icon – together with other relics and antiquities – was preserved at a branch of the State Historical Museum.

Today’s ceremony marks the final transfer of the Iveron Icon to the Russian Orthodox Church.

Vladimir Putin, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, and Metropolitan Yuvenaly of Krutitsy and Kolomna also attended the sacred procession, in which the icon was carried by clergy from the Moscow Eparchy from the gate of the convent to Smolensky Cathedral, where a prayer service was held.

Vladimir Putin’s speech at the ceremony:

Vladimir Putin: Your Holiness, friends, Mother Superior, today the first copy of the miraculous Iveron Icon of the Mother of God is being transferred to the church. This relic accompanied our ancestors throughout the centuries, both in times of peace and in times of war, including the liberation of Smolensk from foreign invaders in the middle of the 17th century. Today is St. George’s Day, St. George is the symbol of Moscow – and we are celebrating it in the run-up to Victory Day.

Today it would not be amiss to remind you that Russia’s national identity and culture would be inconceivable without the Russian Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church, along with other traditional denominations in Russia, is the guardian of our moral values. It is with a feeling of joy that I transfer the icon to the church. Let it serve and help people. My congratulations on the upcoming holiday!

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia: Mr Putin, I warmly thank you for your kind words and for the icon, which has historically always been a part of the Novodevichy Convent. Ever since the 17th century when upon the orders of Tsar Alexis I of Russia a copy was made at Mt. Athos and brought to Moscow, where it was met by the tsar, boyars and noblemen, our people, it has never left the walls of the Novodevichy Convent. Only once, during celebrations marking the 300th anniversary of the House of Romanov, was the icon taken to the Moscow Kremlin. Whenever the relic was taken outside the convent, it was to accompany our troops, such as during the liberation of Smolenk and Vyazma, as you mentioned. Our military commanders and soldiers said their prayers before the icon. We can only imagine what power and great spiritual energy this sacred image possesses. And God, upon the prayers from the Holy Mother, showed mercy to our warriors and our Motherland.

After the revolution the convent was closed, and the icon was brought to the museum. Today, we are witnessing an event of  great historical importance. As President-elect, you are transferring the relic from the State Historical Museum with the full consent of the museum community and with the support of the Ministry of Culture and all people who understand the icon’s spiritual and cultural value, to the place it has always belonged. We will say prayers before this miracle-working icon.

I would like to announce that the first public prayer and worship service for the icon will be held at Vasilyevsky Spusk on May 24 at 1:00 p.m., where we will open Slavonic Literature and Culture Day, a church-state holiday. I invite everyone to come to Vasilyevsky Spusk on this day and say a prayer for our country, people and church before this miraculous relic. God bless our Motherland that it may develop constantly and progressively, going from strength to strength.

Mr Putin, ahead of your official inauguration as President of Russia, I would like to once more congratulate you on being elected to this post. May God grant that the church’s prayers before this miracle-working icon help you in your work as President for the good of the people.    

Vladimir Putin: Thank you.

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Following the ceremony of transferring the ancient copy of the Iveron Icon of the Mother of God to the Novodevichy Convent, Vladimir Putin visited the baptismal temple of his patron saint Vladimir the Great.

Together with Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and the Mother Superior of the monastery, Margarita, Vladimir Putin entered the small temple, located at the basement of the Dormitory Church, and lit a candle at the icon of Vladimir the Great.

Mother Superior Margarita told Vladimir Putin that in recent years, nuns have been constantly singing psalters and praying for the well-being of the President-elect in this church.

The prime minister was invited to see the convent’s unique collection of ancient icons from the Descent of the Holy Spirit Church. Mother Superior Margarita told Putin that some of the icons had been awaiting restoration for dozens of years, while Patriarch Kirill showed the prime minister a number of unique works by Western icon painters, which differ drastically from those by Orthodox masters.

After viewing the collection, the prime minister took a walk around the monastery and spoke with some of the churchgoers.