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My name is David Stone. I live in Houston, Texas. I am a 30-something single white male. I am an Orthodox Christian and am a member of an English-language parish of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR).

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Annually up to 3 million people make pilgrimages to Orthodox shrines in Russia

Annually up to 3 million people make pilgrimages to Orthodox shrines in Russia

- Metropolitan Kirill

Moscow, November 29, Interfax -

Up to 3 million people make pilgrimages to Orthodox holy places annually, with about 1 million coming to St. Sergius Monastery of the Trinity alone.

These figures were given by Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, head of the Moscow Patriarchate department for external church relations, at a conference on Orthodox pilgrimage on Wednesday in Moscow.

According to the church statistics, about 2 million people made pilgrimages to Orthodox holy places in 2004.

The metropolitan said some 100 thousand pilgrims come to holy places of universal Orthodoxy annually, most of them to the Holy Land.

For the last two years, the number of Orthodox pilgrimage services in Russian regions has increased from 11 to 140, the metropolitan noted.

He also informed the conference that the recent years have seen an increasing number of the faithful of the Russian Church Outside Russia coming to venerate Orthodox shrines in Russia - the fact, he said, ‘that plays an important role in overcoming some still remaining stereotypes in their attitude to the Russian Orthodox Church’.

‘These trips help heal the division, which is now drawing to an end, and we hope that with God’s help it will be over next year’, the hierarch stressed.

Metropolitan Kirill also gave a high assessment to the work that the Synodal Department for Youth carried out in this area, noting that pilgrimage is ‘an organic and very important part of the religious education of the youth’.

‘Pilgrimage is a most effective means of influencing the youth. It often helps to form in young people a lively religious feeling and to develop solidarity. During their pilgrimages they strike friendships, which often end in solid Orthodox marriages’, Metropolitan Kirill said, stressing that this theme should be made a priority in the education of youth.



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