05/04/2021, 11.13
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The 'fire of Grace' from Jerusalem to Moscow. Easter greetings from Kirill, Putin and Naval'nyj

by Vladimir Rozanskij

Every year, on Easter night, the "fire of Grace" ignites "miraculously" in the crypt of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and is taken to various Orthodox countries. The bearer for Moscow is Vladimir Yakunin, a member of the security services and trusted friend of Vladimir Putin. Kirill: The pandemic cannot obscure the grace of the sacraments and the holy Eucharist. Greetings from Alexei Naval'nyj from Vladimir prison.

Moscow (AsiaNews) – Even in 2021, the year of the pandemic, on the night of May 2 the most anticipated "Orthodox miracle" was renewed at Easter: the spontaneous igniting of fire in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, in a more participatory ceremony than last year, when the sanctuary room was half-empty.

Various patrons of the Orthodox countries were gathered in the crypt the, who at their own expense undertake to carry the flame to the various countries. For Russia the task, as for several years, was entrusted to Vladimir Jakunin, former head of the Russian Railways (photo 1) and authoritative member of the security services (FSB), one of the main players in Russian "cyber warfare" against the West, for five years at the head of the forum for the Dialogue of Civilizations.

When he was in charge of the Railways, Jakunin created the Foundation of St. Andrew Protoclitus, which has as its main purpose the transport of the "fire of Grace (Blagodatnyj Ogon)" to Russia and all countries where there is a large colony of Russians emigrants.

Jakunin is one of Vladimir Putin's most trusted friends, with whom he loves to share hunting excursions. Putin himself addressed his Easter greetings "to all Orthodox Christians, to the citizens of Russia who rejoice in the Resurrection of Christ, the feast of life, good and justice, which has enormous moral significance".

The president participated in the Easter Vigil liturgy in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow, and congratulated the patriarch of Moscow Kirill (Gundjaev), who in turn thanked the head of state "for his attention to the service of the patriarchate of Moscow, and active support for its initiatives, especially those that have social value”.

Kirill sent his best wishes to all the presidents of the 10 local Orthodox Churches he recognized, including the American and Canadian ones, excluding the Greeks with whom communion is interrupted. On the other hand, he reserved a special greeting for the astronauts, and politicians "of the countries of the Orthodox tradition" of Greece, Cyprus and North Macedonia.

During the liturgy, the patriarch said that "the pandemic cannot obscure the grace of the sacraments and the Holy Eucharist", even if it has forced the faithful to a very limited participation, about 1% of the population instead of 3-5% of the last years. However, many went to the churches to have the kulič, the traditional Easter cake blessed (photos 2 and 3), together with the other sweets and colored eggs, despite the fact that the patriarchate had spread blessing texts to be recited independently at home.

Kirill added that "this Passover is special, as it will make us go beyond the pandemic as the people of Israel were freed from Egyptian slavery, and how Christ destroyed the gates of humanity's great enemy, death". The patriarch recalled the "three lessons" of this period: human frailty, a sense of responsibility and the importance of communication between men, "with non-virtual relationships, not through applications and screens, but in the authentic relationship with the 'other".

Even the most famous inmate in Russia, Alexei Navalnyj, released a text posted to social media from Vladimir prison, in which he congratulated everyone "for the most beautiful celebration in our tradition ... unfortunately I cannot fully share the Easter feast with you, I am still in the first half of my interesting transformation, from a skeleton who barely manages to drag his bones into a very hungry man, but the few spoonfuls of kaša that they allow me, I eat them with a magnificent Easter joy".

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