Metropolitan Mark of Berlin and Germany, Deputy First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad led the festive services on the day of the Ascension of the Lord, the patronal feast of the Holy Ascension Convent on the Mount of Olives. Upon the death of the First Hierarch of ROCOR, Metropolitan Hilarion, Vladyka Mark has become the Locum Tenens of the First Hierarchal Throne until the election of a new Chief Hierarch at the Council of Bishops in September of this year.

Before the all-night vigil, the Mother Superior of the monastery, Matushka Barbara (Novikova), accompanied Metropolitan Mark to the church, where he was greeted by the head of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission, Archimandrite Roman (Krassovsky) along with the clergy of the monastery and pilgrims in holy orders.

The Metropolitan was vested in small vestments upon the kathedra where Vladyka prayed until the small entrance, during which he solemnly entered the altar with the singing of “Ispolla eti despota.” At the polyeleos, both “psalms of praise” were sung by the two choirs. The monastic choir of sisters, led by the nun Joanna, and the clergy alternately sang each verse, and at the last, the bishops and priests went to the middle of the church in front of the icon of the feast and solemnly sang the “Magylanarion” of the feast. Vladyka anointed all the sisters and pilgrims with holy oil.

In the morning preceeding the Liturgy, as is traditional on the day of the patronal feast, water was blessed. Then the meeting of Metropolitan Mark took place. The head of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission of the Moscow Patriarchate, Archimandrite Alexandre (Elisov), arrived for liturgy. Thus, the chiefs of both Missions co-served with the Deputy First Hierarch. In addition to Abbess Barbara, Abbess Elisaveta (Smelic) from the Gethsemane Monastery of St. Mary Magdalene and Mother Ekaterina (Chernysheva), Abbess of the Gornensky Monastery attended the service. The elder sister of the community of the Resurrection of Christ in Bethany, nun Maria (Wall) also prayed in the temple.

At the end of the Liturgy, the primate of the Greek Patriarchate, Patriarch Theophilus ӀӀӀ, arrived, who warmly congratulated Vladyka, the heads of the Mission, sisters, and pilgrims with the feastday and with words of edification for the day of the holiday. Upon the departure of the patriarch, a prayer service was performed with a procession around the temple.

Afterwards, a meal was offered at which the sisters fed not only the pilgrims, but also, according to the old tradition, the Arab neighbors who come to congratulate the sisters on the holiday.

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