On the eve of the feast of the Nativity of Christ, Archimandrite Roman (Krassovsky), the Head of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem which is part of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, served the Royal Hours in the convent of St. Mary Magdalene which is in the Garden of Gethsemane.
After a short break, Vespers of the feast were served along with the Liturgy of St. Basil the Great. The clergy of the monastery – Hieromonk Misail (Minin), Hieromonk Theodore (Kirike), Priest Roman Gultiaev and Hierodeacon Amfilohy (Mazur) co-served with the Head of the Mission. After the dismissal, the image of the Nativity of Christ was solemnly brought out from the altar with the chanting of the troparion and kontakion of the feast. Fr. Roman congratulated the sisters on the upcoming feast and reminded the sisters that God Himself was incarnate for the sake of His love for us and we must respond to this love by keeping His commandments of love for God and our neighbors, for our relationship with our neighbor reflects our faithful love to the Savior Himself.
In the evening at 4:00 at the Holy Ascension Convent on the Mount of Olives, Great Compline was served with a litia at which the five loaves of bread were blessed. Upon the dismissal, the sisters were given bread and wine, and everyone returned to their cells until midnight.
At 12:00 at night, the Head of the REM blessed the beginning of Matins with the words “Glory to the Holy, and Consubstantial, and Life-giving, and Inseparable Trinity …”, then the sisters sang the small doxology “Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth …” during which Fr. Roman censed temple. During the service, the celebration of Christmas was glorified by singing “We Glorify Thee”. The words of the canon sounded with the singing of Irmos: “Christ is born, glorify Him“. The monastery clergy – Abbot Iona (Galishnikov) and Protodeacon Vyacheslav Batalsky co-served with the Head of the Mission. Following the great doxology and the singing of the troparion, “Thy Nativity, Christ our God …” the Divine Liturgy began at which all the sisters and pilgrims took communion. The service ended at about 3:30.
In the morning at 8:00 am, a Liturgy was celebrated in the church of St. Philaret the Merciful for families with children who could not attend the midnight service. Priest Roman Gultyaev headed the service.
At 8:30 the sisters of both convents left for Bethlehem to worship at the manger of the newborn Savior. Archimandrite Roman served a prayer service in the holy cave at which the story of the Nativity from the Gospel of Matthew was read. With festive joy, everyone returned to their monasteries where a festive meal was offered after which the sisters sang Christmas carols.
Сonvent of St. Mary Magdalene which is in the Garden of Gethsemane
Holy Ascension Convent on the Mount of Olives