The enthronement ceremony of Kiev’s Epiphanius (Video)
by Vladimir Rozanskij

The ritual was adapted by bringing together the Russian tradition and that of Constantinople. Only 200 chosen personalities attend, including President Petro Poroshenko and former Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko. Patriarch Emeritus Filaret absent. Present the head of the Greek Catholic Church, Svjatoslav Shevchuk, Latin Rite and Protestant representatives. Representatives of the Churches of Constantinople, of Mount Athos and of the Ukrainian Orthodox Churches of the United States and of Canada also present.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - Metropolitan Epiphanius (Dumenko) was officially proclaimed head of the new Ukrainian autocephalous church, recognized by the Patriarchate of Constantinople, during a ceremony of enthronement held yesterday, February 3, in St. Sophia's Cathedral in Kiev. On this date the new metropolitan turned 40, and thus fully began his mission as a guide for the Ukrainian Orthodox.

At the end of the liturgy, after Holy Communion, Epiphanius was given the ministry as metropolitan and was solemnly declared primate of the Holy Church Ukraine, according to the Tomos of autocephaly. The parish priest of the church showed him to the throne, recently realized for the occasion (the church had remained until now a state museum), where he took possession of the authority conferred upon him. The ancient thrones of the country, as noted by the parish priest, the protoierej Aleksandr Trofimljuk, "had been transferred to St. Petersburg, and some were destroyed by the Bolsheviks". 

The ritual of enthronement was rewritten and adapted for the occasion, becoming a synthesis between the Russian use – where the enthronement is part of the liturgy itself - and the Constantinopolitan one, which places it outside the liturgical act. The detail is not without symbolic value: since the time of Ivan the Terrible, crowned in 1547, the Russians have always tried to stand out from Constantinople, in the settlement of tsar, patriarchs and metropolitans. The new rite wanted to symbolically show the meeting of the two souls of Orthodoxy, the Greek one and the Slavic one.

There were just over 200 people at the ceremony, including Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and party leader Batkvischina ("The dear motherland"), former Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko, the president's main opponent in the upcoming elections at the end of March.

There were also representatives of the Churches of Constantinople, of Mount Athos, and of the Ukrainian Orthodox Churches of the United States and of Canada. Among the guests was also the head of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, the Major Archbishop Svjatoslav Shevchuk, some representatives of the Catholic Church of the Latin rite and of the Protestant communities of the country. Patriarch Emeritus Filaret (Denisenko) was absent for health reasons, but sent a message to the new Metropolitan. At the end of the ceremony, Metropolitan Epiphanus, addressed a heartfelt appeal to all the Churches of the world to recognize the new Ukrainian Church.

The church and the square in front of it were strictly guarded by police forces, the National Guard and a vast security, although the participants in the ceremony were a very small and select group. Even around the square there was no great participation of the people: the access routes had been blocked to traffic and free passage. The atmosphere was rather surreal, remembering above all the mass demonstrations in favor of the establishment of the new Church that took place in the last months right in front of St. Sophia.