Vilnius, October 9, 2023
Orthodox faithful from all across Lithuania gathered in the capital on Saturday, October 7, for the Divine Liturgy and a procession with the wonderworking Surdegis Icon of the Mother of God.
The Lithuanian people were joined by His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) of Budapest, who was invited by His Eminence Metropolitan Innokenty of Vilnius. This is the second year in a row that the Lithuanian Church has processed for peace in Ukraine with the icon, which is one of the most important sacred treasures of the Lithuanian Orthodox, after the tradition of bringing it to the capital was revived last year after 20 years.
Photo: L to R: Met. Innokenty, Bp. Ambrose, Met. Hilarion. Photo: orthodoxy.lt
The Surdegis Icon, which first appeared on the feast of the Dormition in 1530, was delivered on Saturday from Kauņas to the Holy Spirit Monastery, where the Divine service was led by Met. Hilarion together with Met. Innokenty and His Grace Bishop Ambrose of Trakai, reports the Lithuanian Church.
After the Liturgy, the icon was carried in procession from the monastery to the Holy Dormition Cathedral. Along the way, the procession stopped at a church where the Ukrainian Orthodox community worships, served by a canonical priest from Ukraine. There, Met. Innokenty and Bp. Ambrose offered special prayers in Slavonic and Lithuanian for the end of the war in Ukraine.
When the procession reached the Dormition Cathedral, a moleben was celebrated before the wonderworking Surdegis Icon.
After the moleben, Met. Hilarion also addressed the gathered faithful. The report recalls that he began his pastoral life in Lithuania, being tonsured into monasticism and ordained a hierodeacon and hieromonk in Vilnius in 1987. In the early 90s, he served as rector of the Annunciation Cathedral in Kauņas, where the icon is permanently kept.
His Eminence called on everyone to preserve unity and loyalty to the Church.
The Lithuanian Church report also notes that Met. Hilarion supported the Lithuanian people’s struggle for freedom, and even appeared on TV to plead with Soviet soldiers not to shoot at civilians. His Eminence holds the Lithuanian state medal “For Courage and Self-Sacrifice” for his efforts at that time.
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