(ROCOR) - On Monday, September 23, 2013, His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, arrived in the Holy Land, leading a large group of over 100 pilgrims from the Diocese of Australia and New Zealand. Greeted at Ben Gurion Airport by Archimandrite Roman (Krassovsky), Chief of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem, His Eminence then headed for Ascension of the Lord Convent on the Mt of Olives. There, Metropolitan Hilarion venerated the convent’s holy relics, blessed the welcoming Abbess Moisseia and the sisters and asked for their holy prayers.
The next day, His Eminence paid a visit to the Jerusalem Patriarchate, where he was warmly greeted by His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III of the Holy City of Jerusalem and All Palestine. Addressing the pilgrims accompanying Vladyka Hilarion, His Beatitude noted that worshipers who venerate the holy places connected with the earthly life of the Savior are like Apostle Thomas, who was strengthened in faith when he made contact with the wounds of the Resurrected Christ. His Beatitude expressed gratitude to Vladyka Hilarion and the pilgrims visiting the Holy Land in a difficult period for the Christians of the Near East, because they are thereby exhibiting their brotherly love and support.
This pilgrimage to the Holy Land by the Primate of the Russian Church Abroad will include visits to holy sites, performing divine services, meeting with clergymen of the Russian Mission, monastics and the pilgrims from the Diocese of Australia and New Zealand which he also heads.