JERUSALEM: January 28, 2021
Greeting from Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York to the online conference “The Holy Land and the Russian Church Abroad”
Your Excellency, Honorable Chief of the Mission,
Beloved in the Lord Fathers, Brothers and Sisters:
I extend heartfelt greetings to the organizers and participants of the online conference “The Holy Land and the Russian Church Abroad,” held on this centennial of the arrival in Russian Gethsemane of the relics of the Martyrs of Alapaevsk, Holy Grand Duchess Elizabeth and Nun Barbara (Yakovleva). By their lives, their blood and honored relics, which survive uncorrupted at the “Royal Church” of the Convent of St Mary Magdalene, Equal-to-the-Apostles, in Gethsemane, Jerusalem, these great ascetics, along with the many millions of Martyrs and Confessors of the 20th century, continue to bear witness to the truth of Christ’s teachings, His Resurrection from the dead and Victory over evil and sin, and all the horrors that this earth has committed.
In that same year, 1921, by order of the Supreme Ecclesiastical Authority Abroad, Archbishop Anastassy (Gribanovsky) traveled to the Holy Land with the aim of acquainting himself with the situation of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem, the economic and other matters which were entirely disrupted by the shocks of the War and of the Revolution. Here, the future First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia established the legal status of the Mission, renovated the grand Holy Trinity Cathedral, the Churches of Empress Alexandra, the Ascension of the Savior Convent on the Mt of Olives, the Oak of Mambre in Hebron and in Gorny Convent. His Eminence acquired a parcel of land on the banks of the Jordan River, where water would traditionally be blessed with great solemnity and processions of the cross. In addition to the existing convents on Gorny and the Mt of Olives, he opened new convents in Gethsemane, Jaffa and Bethany (the latter then establishing a school as well). During the course of establishing the way of life for the monasteries, Vladyka Anastassy performed some 100 monastic tonsures, and introduced the splendor of the monastic cycle of divine services in the convents. In brief, his eloquent and kind words, his wise and experienced archpastoral hands renewed this treasured ecclesiastical legacy in Jerusalem.
Vladyka Anastassy also made a great and historic contribution to the “Mother Church” and the “Abode of God,” the Jerusalem Patriarchate. The fact of the matter was that His Beatitude Patriarch Damian of Jerusalem, a great friend of the Russian Church, who one hundred years ago welcomed the relics of the Martyrs of Alapaevsk, due to circumstances incurred by war, was left the sole bishop of the Church of Jerusalem. Archbishop Anastassy helped the Patriarch to consecrate to the episcopacy new bishops and reestablish in the Holy Land its hierarchal administration.
As I remotely kiss the crypts of the Holy Martyrs of Alapaevsk, piously prostrating myself before the memories of Metropolitan Anastassy, Archimandrite Dimitry (Byakai), Archimandrite Mefody (Popovich), Archimandrite Nektary (Chernobyl), Archimandrite Modest (Shut), Abbess Maria (Robinson), Abbess Tamara (Princess Romanov), who, as Archbishop Anthony (Medvedev), along with Grand Duchess Elizabeth, “exchanged their lofty birthright for humble monasticism.” Prayerfully remembering these and many other ascetics of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, I wish for everyone joy and the fruitful celebration of this centennial, heavenly aid in your righteous efforts and a productive conference!
Beseeching your holy prayers, I remain with love in the Lord,
Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York,
First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.