His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion, First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad and ruling bishop of the Diocese of Great Britain & Ireland, arrived in London on Monday, March 13, for his second archpastoral visit to the Diocese in 2017. Together with Protodeacon Dionysius Lvov, Metropolitan Hilarion was accompanied by Protectress of the Russian Diaspora – the wonderworking Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God. Upon arrival at London’s Cathedral of the Dormition of the Mother of God & the Holy Royal Martyrs, the Icon was placed in the church for veneration by the faithful, and a special akathist was served before the Icon in the evening and petitions read. Many people stayed until very late, reading the akathist and praying fervently. A distinct fragrance was sensed briefly as the Icon was lifted by the clergy while people left the cathedral passing under the Icon.
After visiting Oxford and Cheltenham with the Icon on Tuesday and Wednesday, Metropolitan Hilarion returned to Holy Dormition Cathedral on Wednesday, March 15. After a short break, the Metropolitan went to the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Dormition of the Mother of God & All Saints in Ennismore Gardens to join His Eminence Elisey (Ganaba), Archbishop of Sourozh, for the evening Presanctified Liturgy. Upon his return, Metropolitan Hilarion chaired the annual meeting of the sisterhood of the Diocese’s Dormition Cathedral.
On Thursday, March 16, the Metropolitan visited with His Eminence Gregorios, Archbishop of Thyateira & Great Britain (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese), and in the evening led the Akathist to the Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God in Dormition Cathedral. Later in the evening, the Metropolitan chaired the joint monthly meeting of the Trust & Parish Council of the Cathedral Parish.
Friday, March 17, began with a Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts led by the Metropolitan, who also heard himself confessions before the service. Later the same day, the Holy Icon was taken to the monastery of St. Panteleimon in Clacton-on-Sea and then to the parish of St. John of Shanghai & San Francisco in Colchester. In the meanwhile, Metropolitan Hilarion remained in London making private visits.
On Saturday, March 18, during the reading of the Hours, there was a tonsuring of readers and the elevation of a reader to the subdiaconate. During Liturgy, the Metropolitan also ordained a priest and a deacon. The Liturgy was followed by the Diocesan Assembly, and after a short break the Sacrament of Holy Unction was performed in the presence of the Kursk Root Icon by the Metropolitan and other clergy who had gathered in the cathedral from all over the Diocese; the cathedral was filled to capacity with believers. As the Icon was taken later to the Patriarchal Cathedral in Ennismore Gardens for their Vigil service, those who remained the Diocesan Cathedral joined the Hierarchal Vigil led by Metropolitan Hilarion, and some stayed for supper afterward.
On Sunday, March 19, the Metropolitan celebrated the Hierarchal Liturgy with the cathedral clergy, followed by the Annual Parish Meeting of the Cathedral Parish in the presence of the Holy Icon.
On the final day of His Eminence’s archpastoral visit, the Kursk Root Icon was still available in the morning for veneration and prayer, to the great joy of those could attend. The cathedral clergy and parishioners also had one last opportunity to talk to Metropolitan Hilarion over lunch, and in the early afternoon, he, Protodeacon Dionysius, and the Icon flew back to New York City, returning home just before the Feast of the Kursk Root Icon on March 21 and the Lenten Clergy Retreat of Eastern American Diocese.
The clergy and faithful of the Diocese of Great Britain & Ireland shared their feelings of deep appreciation for the genuine care that His Eminence has extended with his recent visits.