MOSCOW, January 6. - The divine Christmas service has begun at Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral. The three-hour service will be conducted by Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill.
For the first time ever, the service is being held with open Holy Doors to symbolize the openness of God’s word for all.
Some 5,000 believers have gathered in the Cathedral, many people are still lining up to enter. A Christmas tree has been installed in front of the cathedral. The tree is decorated with crystal angel figurines.
The Christ the Savior Cathedral built to commemorate the victory in the Patriotic War of 1812 is dedicated to the Nativity of Christ. The church was dedicated to the Nativity of Christ, since on this very day, December 25 by Julian Calendar, the last soldier of the Napoleon army left Russia.
Traditionally, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev will attend the service that will be aired by Russia's federal television channels. The tradition of attending major church services by the country’s leaders was resumed after the collapse of the former Soviet Union.
The first secular leader to attend the Christmas service was Russian President Boris Yeltsin.
In his Christmas message, Patriarch Kirill noted that the year 2015 will be marked by the celebration of the 1,000th anniversary since the death of Prince Vladimir, the baptizer of Rus. The Patriarch stressed that this holy mane linked Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and all countries of historical Rus.
“We owe our high Christian name, our being a common family of Orthodox brotherly peoples of historical Rus to this man /Prince Vladimir/,” the Patriarch said. “No temporary trials, no hardships, no external forces can sever these centuries-long spiritual and cultural ties between heirs to the Kiev baptistery.”
The Patriarch called to raise prayers to pacify the situation in Ukraine. Prayers for Ukraine have been served at each liturgy at each Orthodox church across the globe since mid-2014.