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« on: May 28, 2003, 02:53:52 PM »

Officials honor Russian saint
VLADIMIR PUTIN PROMISES TO LEAD PROCESSION OF CROSS - RRN - Religiia i CMI, 27 May 2003

The Russian Orthodox church has declared 2003 the year of St. Serafim of Sarov. The 100th anniversaryof "the last saint" has become one of the most significant cultural events for all Russia. Kursk has the most direct connection with this historical figure since the saint was a native of Solovinyi territory. The day of the canonization of Serafim of Sarov in the church calendar is 1 August. On that day a procession of the cross will be conducted in the Diveevo church where the basic celebrations devoted to the saint will be conducted. Patriarch Alexis II of all-Rus and Russian President Vladimir Putin have promised to attend.

And a procession of 1,000 kilometers will begin 8 June in Kursk. All who wish may join it. Applications have already arrived from various cities of Russia, Kemorovo, Irkutsk, Vladivostok.

For Kurskites who will not be able to take part in the multi-kilometer procession of the cross the Kursk diocese offered an "abbreviated version" of the procession; a two-day march began in the morning of 17 May at the church of the Sign. It went about to the main churches and monasteries of the city and ended on Sunday at the central square. At a press conference preceding this event Fr Anatoly recalled that earlier a procession of the cross had preceded the all-night vigil on Red Square in the city. To the suggestion of reviving the tradition the bishop said in amazement: "I should conduct a service while looking at Lenin!" A legitimate observation, but it should be recalled that only a few years ago it seemed to priests unimaginable that a procession of the cross would be conducted along the street bearing the name of the leader of the revolution. Today few give it any attention, "Sovtest Online" notes.

Nobody intends to rename the central street, but there has been the thought on the part of municipal authorities to name one of the nearby streets in honor of the Kursk saint. But Mayor Sergei Maltsev does not support that idea, noting that it is impossible to place Lenin, Ufimtsev, and Serafim of Sarov on a par, and the ecclesiastical authorities absolutely agree with this. Although the head of the city promised to try to get the next submarine to be built to have the name of the saint, in honor of the "Kursk."
Provincial authorities also have not forgotten about religious matters. On 5 June in the little town of Svoboda, on the route to the Koren hermitage, a cross will be erected. In the longer term, they will put up a monument on the spot where, according to legend, hunters found an icon of the Mother of God.
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