His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad and Metropolitan of Eastern America and New York and the ruling bishop of the diocese of Great Britain and Ireland, arrived in London on Monday 13th March for his second archpastoral visit to the diocese this year. Together with proto-deacon Denis, Metropolitan Hilarion brought the Wonder Working Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God. On the arrival at the Cathedral in Harvard Road, the Icon was placed in Church for veneration by the faithful and the 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 were leaving the Cathedral passing under the Icon.
After visiting Oxford and Cheltenham with the Icon on Tuesday and Wednesday, Metropolitan Hilarion, returned to the Cathedral on Wednesday 15th March. After a short break the Metropolitan went to the Cathedral in Ennismore Gardens to join his Eminence Archbishop Elisey of Sourozh for the evening presanctified Liturgy. On his return. Metropolitan Hilarion chaired the annual meeting of the Sisterhood of the Cathedral in Harvard Road.
On Thursday 16th March, the Metropolitan visited with His Eminence Archbishop Gregorios, Archbishop of Thyateira and Great Britain, and in the evening led the Akathist to the Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God in the Cathedral in Harvard Road. Later in the evening, the Metropolitan chaired the joint monthly meeting of the Trust and Parish Council of the Cathedral Parish.
Friday 17th March began with a Liturgy of pre-sanctified Gifts led by the Metropolitan, who also heard 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 and San-Francisco in Colchester, The Metropolitan remained in London making private visits.
On Saturday 18th March during the reading of the Hours there was a tonsuring of Readers and the raising of a Reader to the Sub-diaconate. During the 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 celebrated in the presence of the Holy Icon by the Metropolitan and other clergy who had gathered in the Cathedral from all over the diocese; the Cathedral as usual was full. As the Icon was taken later to the Cathedral in Ennismore Gardens for their Vigil service, those who stayed in Harvard Road joined the Hierarchal Vigil led by Vladika Metropolitan and some stayed for supper afterwards.
Sunday 19th March, the Metropolitan celebrated the Hierarchal Liturgy with the cathedral clergy, and this was followed by the Annual Parish Meeting (APM 2016) of the Cathedral Parish in the presence of the Holy Icon.
On the final day of their visit (Monday 20th March), the Icon was still available in the morning for veneration and prayer to a great joy of those could attend. The cathedral clergy and parishioners also had one last opportunity to talk to Vladika Hilarion over lunch, and early afternoon the Metropolitan and proto-deacon Denis and the Icon flew back to New-York City from London Heathrow, returning home just before the Feast of the Kursk Root Icon of 21st March.
There has been a widely shared feeling of deep appreciation for the genuine care that Vladika with his recent visits has extended to the Cathedral Parish and the entire diocese.
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