Speech by His Eminence Metropolitan Nicholas of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, at the solemn joint session of the Holy Synods of Bishops of the Serbian and Russian Orthodox Churches Outside of Russia in Sremski Karlovci

Highslide JS

From the Editors: On Friday, 14 June, 2024, a joint session of the Holy Synods of the Serbian Church and of the Russian Church Abroad, chaired by His Holiness Patriarch Porfirije convened. Participating in the solemn meeting were the Primates and hierarch members of both Synods. After a greeting by His Holiness, Metropolitan Nicholas addressed the gathering with the following words:

Your Holiness, Your Eminences and Your Graces, Brother Archpastors:

It is with great joy that we accepted the invitation of Your Holiness, so with great eagerness we arrived within the confines of the Serbian Orthodox Church to bear witness to our fraternal love in Christ and to support her by bringing the most ancient of relics: the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God. Being under the hospitable mantle of Your Holiness, I am especially pleased to visit your beautiful country, its churches and monasteries, admiring its unique beauty, the diligence and sincerity of the Serbian people. I am especially fond of the places connected with our common history and the great feats of our mentors, including these historical premises that were provided by His Holiness Patriarch Dimitrije to Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky) and to the Russian bishops who were deprived of their Fatherland.

"He means more to me than my own father," His Holiness Patriarch Varnava said of Metropolitan Anthony. It was Vladyka Anthony, at the insistence of His Holiness Varnava, this great benefactor of the Russian emigration, who led the rite of enthronement of His Holiness. “Metropolitan Anthony is near and dear to us, Serbs, as well as to you Russians," said St. Justin (Popovic).

"He is our common treasure, our common hierarch and enlightener." In his "The Mystery of the Personality of Metropolitan Anthony and His Significance for the Orthodox Slavs," St Justin writes: "Many times I felt the power of his pan-Orthodox love: for him, we Serbs were as dear as the Russians. A kind of touching all-encompassing power emanated from him. I would call it Orthodox universality."

This spirit of universal participation in the life of Orthodox peoples and their Churches was later instilled by St. Justin in his disciples, among whom was our Metropolitan Mark of Berlin and Germany.

When His Holiness Patriarch Gabriel ascended the throne of St. Sava, Metropolitan Anastassy (Gribanovsky), the second First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, served to his right as the senior metropolitan, and at the solemn reception said: "It is with a feeling of deep joy that our Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia participates in this celebration together with the Serbian Orthodox Church, and at the same time gratefully remembers the love shown by the blessed Tsar Alexander and your predecessor, Patriarch Varnava of Serbia. The Russian Church and the Russian people, who know your hospitality, welcome your accession to the throne of your glorious predecessors, beginning with St. Sava."

During the Second World War, the administrative center of the part of the Russian Church abroad continued to be located on the territory of the Serbian Orthodox Church, which at that time was oppressed by the Nazis. The latter also oppressed our Hierarchy, although to a slightly lesser extent.

His Holiness Patriarch Gabriel later told British journalists about this that "Metropolitan Anastassy with great wisdom and tact held out during the German occupation, was always loyal to the Serbs, because of which he did not enjoy the confidence of the Germans and was subjected to insulting searches several times."

All this, as well as many other things, shows that Christian love and fraternal relations were in the hearts of our predecessors, and the best ministers of our Churches were ardent defenders of this friendship.

These special relations continued to develop in the post-war years, when the Synod of Bishops found itself in New York, where its main holy icon, the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God "of the Sign," which had left Serbia 80 years ago, was brought. Here our bishops, many of whom had passed through the Vvedenskaya Milkovo Monastery, including St. John (Maximovich), again met with St. Nicholas (Velimirovic).

The relationship between these two saints is especially sincere, touching and simple. As is known, St. Nicholas, pointing to the example of the asceticism of the young hieromonk John, said: "If you want to see a living saint, go to Father John Maximovich."

Our bishops, pastors and laity recall with special feeling the visit to San Francisco in 1992 of His Holiness Patriarch Pavle, who performed a litiya at the tomb of Archbishop John, which was then under the altar of the cathedral he had built. The archpastors of the Serbian Church accompanying His Holiness sang a wonderful Serbian chant. But then the litiya ended, and the late Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro and the Littoral sang the common troparion "Teacher of Orthodoxy", inserting the name of Archbishop John of blessed memory. They say that this is how they sang to the Monk Justin before his glorification.

His Holiness Pavle was a strict monk, modest, humble and kind-hearted in manner, who united and contained in his heart all his flock, made a very strong impression on everyone, and the singing of the troparion to the ever-memorable archpastor, which was taken up by the entire delegation, prompted Archbishop Anthony (Medvedev), tonsured by and a disciple of Schema-Archimandrite Ambrose (Kurganov) of Milkovo, to intercede before the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia for the glorification of Archbishop John as a saint, which took place in 1994.

In 2006, His Eminence Archbishop Amfilohije returned to San Francisco as a speaker at the IV All-Diaspora Council, at which the results of the dialog between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and the possibility of restoring Eucharistic communion between them were discussed. Here, the edifying words about Christ, the Church, conciliarity and how the Serbian Church overcame division in its own midst, spoken by Vladyka Amfilohije with great love, touched everyone, making even those who doubted the benefits of church unity reconsider.

Eternal and grateful memory to this great hierarch of the Church of Christ, who made a significant contribution to the reestablishment of unity within the Russian Orthodox Church, accomplished, with God's help, by His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II and Metropolitan Laurus of blessed memory!

It is with deep satisfaction that we bear witness here today that the relations between our Churches are filled with heartfelt, truly Christian love. Their foundations lie in our common faith, in our common aspirations and hopes.

A deep source of our fraternal ties is our common history, our common ties with the great mission of the brothers SS Methodius and Cyril, Equal-to-the-Apostles, their successors, in our common veneration of the holy saints of God. And recognizing this unity of ours in Christ, this our brotherhood of blood and of the same faith, we look with enthusiasm at the path of Christian life that lies before us, which is born, grows and is perfected in the podvig of love.

This podvig is revealed in our common desire to strengthen unity and communion between our peoples and Churches, in which may the Lord help us!

As a sign of our love and gratitude to the Serbian Orthodox Church, I have the honor to invite you, Your Holiness and Most Worthy Primate, to accept the highest award of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, the Synodal Order of the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God "of the Sign" of the First Degree. AXIOS!

Also, in memory of today's historic event, we ask you to accept this gift – an icon depicting the Mother of God "of the Sign" with Saints John of Shanghai and Jonah of Hankou, the New Martyrs, Confessors and Ascetics of the Russian Diaspora, painted for the centennial anniversary of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, as well as the jubilee panagia. May the Most Holy Theotokos preserve you, the archpastors, pastors, and all the pious Serbian people.




Official website of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
Copyright © 2018
Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.
Republication or retransmission of materials must include the reference:
"The Official Website of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia."
75 East 93rd Street
New York NY 10128 U.S.A.
Tel: (212) 534-1601
E-mail for content information: englishinfo@synod.com
E-mail for technical information: webmaster@synod.com