"We are now at a historic moment": Patriarch Bartholomew and Metropolitan Epifaniy celebrate the Liturgy in St. Sophia Cathedral
The liturgy was held in the open air and gathered a large number of believers. Access to the territory of the cathedral was granted in compliance with special security measures. The prayer was attended by the fifth president of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko, members of the Ukrainian Parliament.
Like yesterday, the service was performed in two languages – Ukrainian and Greek.
According to RISU, the entire episcopate of the OCU, hierarchs of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and priests who came to Kyiv from all over Ukraine took part in the Divine Liturgy. The military chaplains stood in a separate group and were dressed in dark olive cassocks, while the vast majority of the other clerics were fully clothed in gold.
During the liturgy, the Ecumenical Patriarch remembered the Primates of all Autocephalous Orthodox Churches - Metropolitan Epifaniy, Patriarch of Alexandria, and Antioch... He also remembered Russian Patriarch Kirill, who, by the way, suspended Eucharistic communion with Constantinople precisely because of the Ukrainian church issue.
Subsequently, the OCU spokesman, Archbishop Yevstratiy (Zorya) of the OCU read out a message from Metropolitan Epifaniy on the occasion of the Ecumenical Patriarch's visit to Ukraine:
"Dear brothers and sisters, Indeed, this is a historic moment, because it is the first time that the Ecumenical Patriarch, the first among the Primates of Churches, arrived in Ukraine, and visited our local church as an autocephalous, mature, duly independent daughter Church. With his prayer and blessing, with this conciliar Liturgy, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew confirms and blesses our achievements, inspiring us to build our own lives independently."
In his speech, Metropolitan Epifaniy noted that the Unification Council was held here in St Sophia in 2018. The Metropolitan of the OCU also expressed regret that representatives of the UOC-MP did not take part in today's service.
The Primate of the OCU then thanked Patriarch Bartholomew for all that he had done for the Ukrainian Church and, as a sign of special respect, presented an award specially created for this occasion - the Grand Cross of the Order of the Holy Archangel Michael, the patron saint of Kyiv.
"Your Beatitude Metropolitan Epifaniy of Kyiv. Dear Ukrainian people, I emphasize once again that today the Mother Church of Constantinople, like the patriarch, celebrates and rejoices in the progress of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine," Bartholomew said in response.
The Patriarch also gave sacred myrrh to Metropolitan Epifaniy.
As reported, a prayer of Thanksgiving (Doxology) was held yesterday in St Michael's Golden-Domed Cathedral, which was jointly performed by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and the Primate of the OCU, Metropolitan Epifaniy.
Prior to this, the first hierarchs laid flowers at the Wall of Memory of the Fallen Defenders of Ukraine and at the memorial sign to the victims of the Holodomor.
Patriarch Bartholomew also met with the leadership of the state: Prime Minister Shmygal met him at the airport, and later the Patriarch met with President Zelensky, and yesterday with the chair of the Verkhovna Rada Razumkov.
Today, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew will attend the Veterans' Forum, where he will meet with children of defenders of Ukraine.