Patriarch Kirill officially enthroned

Moscow, February 1, Interfax - The 16th Russian Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia has been enthroned on Sunday at a divine service in Moscow Cathedral of Christ the Savior the first such ceremony ever held at this cathedral.

According to the historical tradition, Metropolitans of Kiev and Minsk took the elected Patriarch by the arms and thrice seated him on the Patriarch's high place in the center of the sanctuary. The hierarchs chanted Axios! (Greek for Worthy) with the clergy and the flock as the ceremony proceeded.

Then the assistant deacons removed the archbishop's vestments from the Patriarch-elected and put the patriarchal sakkos (a large embroidered liturgical vestment), the omophorion (a broad scarf), and the patriarchal mitre on him.

The liturgy will end by the laying of the green patriarchal mantle on the patriarch. The pastoral crosier of Saint Peter, the Metropolitan of Moscow, given by the Kremlin Museums especially for the ceremony, will be passed to Patriarch Kirill.

The 16th Patriarch was enthroned with the same bell ringing as his predecessors in the 17th century. It is one of the most ancient Russian bell ringing that is revived especially for the enthronement by bell ringers from the Cathedral of Christ the Savior.

Such bell ringing accompanied the divine services when the Patriarchs of Moscow and All Russian were enthroned to the Patriarchal See from mid 17th century till Peter the Great who abolished the Patriarchate in Russia.

From now onwards, February 1, the day of Patriarch Kirill's enthronement, will be observed as a yearly feast of the Russian Orthodox Church, alongside Patriarch Kirill's name day, May 24, when the Church celebrates the Day of Equal to the Apostles Cyril and Methodius, the missionaries of Christianity among the Slavs.

The ceremony is being attended by President Dmitry Medvedev and his wife Svetlana, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin, Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov, first Russian President's widow Naina Yeltsina, Russian Railways President Vladimir Yakunin, the head of the Russian Imperial House Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, most of the prominent Russian politicians, and delegations of Local Orthodox Churches, of The Holy See and of major foreign Protestant organizations.