Moscow and St. Petersburg, September 13, 2023
The primate of the Malankara Syrian church of India, Catholicos Baselios Marthoma Mathews III, recently completed a six-day visit to the Russian Orthodox Church.
Catholicos Baselios and his delegation visited a number of churches and monasteries and had several meetings with Church officials in Moscow and St. Petersburg. This was his first visit to Russia as the primate of the Malankara church, though he studied at the Leningrad Theological Academy from 1977 to 1979 and has made other visits before he was elevated to the primatial throne in 2021, reports the Russian Orthodox Church.
The Malankara church is a part of the “Oriental Orthodox” communion, together with the Coptic, Ethiopian, Eritrean, Armenian, and Syriac churches, that reject the Fourth Ecumenical Council’s formulation of Christ being in two natures (diaphysitism), and for that reason are also known as Non-Chalcedonians or Monophysites.
In Moscow, the Indian delegation stayed at Pokrov Monastery, where they had the opportunity to venerate the relics of St. Matrona of Moscow, whose veneration is growing in India. They also visited Danilov and Novospassky Monasteries, as well as Epiphany Cathedral, where they served memorial prayers at the tomb of His Holiness Patriarch Alexei II of Moscow.
Notably, the Malankara delegation visited the Russian Children’s Clinical Hospital, where they had a chance to discuss pastoral care with the rector of the hospital church. Catholicos Baselios also had a chance to meet with young patients and their parents and present them with gifts.
On the morning of September 6, the Indian delegation attended the Divine Liturgy at the Holy Dormition Cathedral in the Kremlin, which was celebrated by His Holiness Patriarch Kirill. Following the service, the Russian primate greeted the Malankara primate and delegation, saying they are a light of Orthodoxy in India:
You represent the ancient Malankara church of India, which was founded in the 1st century by the Apostle Thomas. For thousands of years, the Malankara Church has been serving on Indian soil and has managed to preserve its authenticity, identity, and fidelity to the Apostolic Tradition. You have been and are surrounded by a non-Christian majority, and therefore a special wisdom and at the same time a special piety is required, which would imbue your non-Christian fellow citizens with respect for you, Your Beatitude, and the episcopate and the entire Malankara church. In this sense, you bear a very important testimony to Orthodoxy in one of the most populous countries in the world, where Christianity is not the religion of the majority.
Then the delegation left for St. Petersburg, where they stayed at the Holy Resurrection Novodevichy Convent and had the opportunity to visit several famous sites, including the Kazan Cathedral, the Church on the Spilled Blood, the churches of the St. Alexander Nevsky Lavra, the relics of St. Xenia in the Smolensk Cemetery.
On September 7, the delegation visited the St. Petersburg Theological Academy, where the Catholicos had studied in the 1970s, when it was known as the Leningrad Theological Academy. There, he was awarded an honorary doctorate and had a chance to meet with faculty and students.
The next day, the delegation met with the governor of St. Petersburg, after which the Catholicos and those with him ended their visit to Russia. They were seen off at the St. Petersburg airport by Metropolitan Barsanuphius of St. Petersburg and Metropolitan Leonid of Klin.
Follow OrthoChristian on Twitter, Vkontakte, Telegram, WhatsApp, MeWe, and Gab!