The patronal feast of the Convent of St. Mary Magdalene in Gethsemane was led this year by Metropolitan Mark of Berlin and Germany who was visiting the Holy Land with a group of pilgrims from Germany. This was especially joyful for the fact that this was the first pilgrim’s group to visit the Holy Land in over a year and a half due to the Coronavirus shutdown.
Metropolitan Mark was solomnly greeted at the entrance to the church by the Head of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission archimandrite Roman (Krassovsky), the clergy of the Mission and clerics there on pilgrimage. The festal All-Night Vigil was served with great solemnity and spiritual joy.
The following morning after the Midnight Service, water was blessed as is the practice on a patronal feast. Divine Liturgy was served by the visiting archpastor with due splendor. The synodal secretery of the Greek Patriarchate, Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantine arrived towards the end of Divine Liturgy to deliver greetings from the Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem and All Palestine who himself could not attend. Together with Vladyka Mark, Archbishop Aristarchos took part in the moleben to St. Mary of Magdalene with a procession around the church.
On the day of the feast, archimandrite Roman recieved archpastoral greetings fron the Head of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, Metropolitan Hilarion.
Greetings of His Beatitude Theophilos III, Patriarch of Jerusalem to the Community on the Feast of the Myrrh-Bearer and Equal-to-the-Apostles Saint Mary Magdalene at the Russian Church of Saint Mary Magdalene at Gethsemane
4 August 2021
Dear Metropolitan Mark,
Dear Mother Elizabeth,
Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Today on this blessed and glorious feast of your patron, we are reminded of these words:
Praise be to the God of the Christians,
for he has raised up both men and women to serve his Holy Church.
Among the first of them was Mary, born in Magdala,
who walked upon this earth with the blessed Theotokos,
the venerable apostles, and the pious myrrhbearing women.
She hath shown us, through her marvellous transformation,
the Ilfe-changing power of Christ’s compassion and deliverance.
Let us therefore hasten to her and declare:
Rejoice, Mary Magdalene, holy myrrhbearer and first proclaimer of the Resurrection.
The Gospels are an eloquent testimony to Saint Mary Magdalene as a preacher of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. She was the first to the tomb in that first Easter morning, and from her the Good News of the resurrection spread.
We who celebrate her festal memory today with such joy are the Church of the resurrection, and our mission is to be a witness to the resurrection in our own day. This mission is all the more urgent in our present time and circumstance, when the pandemic has spread both death and the fear of death all around the world. Here in the Holy City of Jerusalem, it is incumbent upon us, to whom the Holy Places have been entrusted by Divine Providence, to remain steadfast in our proclamation of the resurrection. We are to be champions of Christ’s resurrection, holding high for all to see the bright torch of the light and hope that comes from the Holy Tomb.
We have experienced in our community the sting of death during this pandemic; today’s feast is our consolation, for Saint Mary Magdalene reminds us, through her own tears at the empty Tomb, that eternal life triumphs over death. As we read in the Gospel of Saint Mark:
The angel said to them, “Do not be amazed; you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he Is not here. Look, see the place where they laid him”. (Mark 16, 6)
Today, therefore, let us re-commit ourselves to the message of the resurrection as we celebrate this joyous feast, and may Saint Mary Magdalene pray for us, that we may be faithful to our mission of proclaiming the resurrection.
Greetings of Metropolitan Hilarion on the Occaision ot the Patronal Feast of the Church of St. Mary Magdalene in the Garden of Gethsemane
22 July/4 August 2021
To the Very Reverend Archimandrite Roman (Krassovsky)
Chief of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem;
To the Honorable Abbess Elizabeth, Nuns and Worshipers
of Russian Gethsemane Convent
Reverend Father, Honorable Mother Abbess and Nuns:
From the distant USA, I send heartfelt greetings to you all on the feast day of the “Royal” church in Russian Gethsemane, prayerfully beseeching God’s help, strength of spirit and joy in the Resurrected Christ, shining in the hearts of many through the preaching and life of St Mary Magdalene, Equal-to-the-Apostles.
I join you in your common prayer today with our entire Church, her archpastors, clergymen, monastics and the multitude of pilgrims who pray for our good ascetics in the Holy Land. Praying for you, I hope that you are all in good health.
With love in the Lord,
+ HILARION, Metropolitan of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia