« Pilgrimage to the relics of St. Nicholas in Bari, Italy »

With the blessing of His Grace Bishop Matthew of Sourozh, and with the support of benefactors of the Dormition Cathedral of the city of London, a pilgrimage of representatives of the Sourozh diocese to the feast of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker in the city of Bari, Italy, took place from 19 to 22 May 2019.

Upon arrival, pilgrims from Great Britain, led by Archpriest Vitaly Polishchuk, joined a large group of pilgrims from various dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church, totaling more than 200 people, who, with the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill, were headed by Metropolitan Varsonofiy of St. Petersburg and Ladoga, permanent member of the Holy Synod.

The delegation included Metropolitan Isidor of Yekaterinodar and Kuban, Archbishop Amvrosiy of Vereisk, Rector of the Moscow Theological Academy, Bishop Alexy of Voznesensk and Pervomaisk, and Bishop Pavel of Yeisk and Timashevsk.

On May 22, 2019, on the feast day of the transfer of the relics of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker from Myra of Lycia to Bari, the Divine Liturgy attended by representatives of the delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church was celebrated at the Papal Basilica in Bari.

The Liturgy was celebrated by Metropolitan Juvenaly of Krutitsy and Kolomna, diocesan Bishop of the Moscow Diocese, Metropolitan Varsonofiy of St. Petersburg, Metropolitan Isidor of Yekaterinodar, Archbishop Amvrosy of Vereisk, Bishop Alexy of Voznesensky, Bishop Pavel of Yeisk.  The archpastors were assisted by pilgrims in holy orders.

The basilica was attended by the Governor of the Moscow Region A.Yu. Vorobiev.

The liturgical chants were sang by the clergy choir of the Moscow Region Diocese and the Moscow Theological Academy choir.

Metropolitan Varsonofiy addressed the believers with an archpastoral word.

“I congratulate you with the feast of transferring the relics of St. Nicholas from Myra of Lycia to Bari, where, with the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Cyril, we came to celebrate the Divine Liturgy on this solemn day and pray by the relics of the great saint of God, who is revered by both Orthodox and Catholics, - said, in particular, Vladyka Varsonofiy. “Today we were given a wonderful opportunity to serve in this basilica and to partake Body and Blood of the Lord. We glorify the memory of St. Nicholas, we take an example from him, because, as it is said in the troparion, he is "the rule of faith and the image of meekness." The saint shows us an example of faith and meekness. ”

“We observe what is happening on earth, how people spoil relations. God always likes humble and meek people, ”continued Metropolitan Varsonofiy. - Saint Nicholas was an example of this meekness. He tried to help everyone, and a lot of testimony remained -  books were written about his miracles.  It is impossible to talk about them briefly – there are so many such miracles. You can read about how the saint helped before and continue to help people. We come to his relics ... We pray to the saint that he stands before God and aske, on our behalf,  for healing, for forgiveness of sins, for deliverance from everyday troubles ... Of course, we understand that we should not shift our problems to others, we should solve them ourselves. We should repent, change our lives for the better, strive for holiness - we all have to do it ourselves. And only when we cannot cope with our problems ourselves, we need to ask God, and He will send us grace through His saints. ”

The service was broadcasted by “Spas” and “Soyuz” TV channels.

Head of the St. Petersburg Metropolia thanked the pilgrims who arrived to the feast. Metropolitan Varsonofy expressed special thanks to the metochion of the Russian Orthodox Church in Bari and the benefactors who organized the pilgrimage. Vladyka has also thanked Father Giovanni, Rector of the basilica, and presented him with a pectoral cross with ornaments.

On the same day, Metropolitan Varsonofiy blessed a memorial plaque in honor of the Holy Martyr Grand Duchess Elizaveta Feodorovna, mounted on the wall of the church of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker at the metochion of the Russian Orthodox Church in Bari. The construction of the monastery was carried out under the patronage of Grand Duchess Elizaveta. The installation of the plaque is dedicated to the 155th anniversary of the birth of the saint. The opening of the memorial plaque was attended by Vice Mayor of the city of Bari Luigi Dzhintron, Honorary Consul of the Russian Federation in Bari Mikelli Boltieri, Honorary Bari resident Tatyana Shumova, Honored Worker of Culture of the Russian Federation, Counselor to the Envoy of the Russian Embassy in the Republic of Italy Alexander Grigoriev, Deputy Chairman of the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society Elena Agapova, director of Rossotrudnichestvo Eleonora Mitrofanova, head of IEPA in Apulia (Italy) Olga Novichkova.

Earlier, on May 20, Metropolitan Varsonofiy served a moleben with akathist to the saint Nicholas the Wonderworker in the Papal Basilica. 

On May 21, the Head of the St. Petersburg Metropolia headed an all-night vigil at the Russian Orthodox Church in Bari.

During the pilgrimage, in addition to exploring the sights of Bari, the pilgrims visited the town of Alberobello, where they prayed during the moleben served by the relics of St. Cosmas and St. Damian of Arabia.

After a common meal on the day of the feast, a group of pilgrims have safely returned to the UK.

Holy Hierarch Father Nicholas, pray God for us!