On May 15, 2013, the second Wednesday of Pascha and the feast day of the Translation of the Relics of SS Boris and Gleb, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia celebrated Divine Liturgy in the building of the former Cathedral of the Icon of the Mother of God "Surety of Sinners," which now houses a museum.
At the entrance to the church, His Holiness was met with the traditional bread and salt by Russian children living in Shanghai.
The Russian Patriarch was joined in celebrating Divine Liturgy by: His Eminence Metropolitan Ilarion of Volokolamsk, President of the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate; His Grace Bishop Sergy of Solnechnogorsk, Head of the Administrative Secretariat of the Moscow Patriarchate; Protopriest Nikolai Balashov, Vice President of the DECR; Protopriest Dionisy Pozdnyaev, Rector of the Church of SS Peter and Paul in Hong Kong; Protopriest Alexei Kiselevich, Rector of St Nicholas of Myra Russian Orthodox Church in Shanghai, as well as Priest Mikhail Wang and Protodeacon Evangel Lu, the eldest retired clergymen of the Chinese Autonomous Orthodox Church.
Attending the service were Andrey Denisov, Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the People's Republic of China; Andrey Smorodin, Russian Consul General in Shanghai; Sergiy Burdylyak, Ukrainian Consul General in Shanghai; Vladimir Varabey, Belarussian Consul General in Shanghai, and IV Belev, Bulgarian Consul General in Shanghai.
Among the worshipers was also Vladimir Legoyda, President of the Synodal Information Department, and many other Orthodox Christians of Shanghai and other cities.
Novospassky Monastery Choir from Moscow sang at Divine Liturgy.
The Epistle and Gospel readings were in Church Slavonic and Chinese, as were several of the intoned petitions.
After the services, the Russian Patriarch performed a litiya for the reposed archpastors, pastors, monastics and laity of the Chinese Autonomous Orthodox Church.
Fr Alexei then congratulated His Holiness Patriarch Kirill on behalf of the Orthodox community of Shanghai and all their compatriots living in eastern China, emphasizing that the Liturgy performed by the head of the Russian Orthodox Church was the first one celebrated in the temple in the last half century. As a memento of his visit, Fr Alexei gave His Holiness a painting depicting the Cathedral of the Mother of God "Surety of Sinners," the work of a young artist named Alexei Veryovkin, a resident of Shanghai.
Patriarch Kirill then noted in his sermon:
"This day truly brings great joy. It is wonderful that the first divine service in this church, the Cathedral of the Mother of God 'Surety of Sinners' after a fifty-year hiatus occurred during the Paschal period? We know from the examples of Russia and China how periods of sorrow are followed by periods of renewal. And today's Divine Liturgy in the 'Surety of Sinners' Cathedral is also a symbol of sorts for the rebirth of China."
Expressing particular gratitude to the clergymen of the Chinese Autonomous Orthodox Church, Fr Mikhail, Fr Evangel and Subdeacon Papia Fu, His Holiness noted that despite their age, they exude a certain inner strength. Together with the entire people of China, they endured various historic upheavals and are now witnesses to the renascence of China and of this holy temple. Fr Mikhail Wang was ordained in the 1950's by Bishop Simeon (Du) of Shanghai. Protodeacon Evangel Lu was ordained by Archbishop Viktor (Svyatin) of China and Beijing, Chief of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in China in the 20th century.
His Holiness then greeted all the Orthodox believers who gathered for the service: Russians, Chinese, Ukrainians, Belarussians, Moldavians, Greeks, Georgians, Serbs and Bulgarians. He reminded them that when an Orthodox Christian arrives in a new place, he becomes a member of the local Orthodox community, pointing out that "Today, all of us of different nationalities gathered in this church comprise the Chinese Church."
Other words of thanks were spoken addressed to those who continue to labor for the benefit of the Chinese Autonomous Orthodox Church to strengthen friendship, cooperation and collaboration between Russia and China: Metropolitan Ilarion, Fr Dionisy, Fr Alexei, Mr Denisov and all who helped prepare for His Holiness' visit.
In memory of the service, the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church then gave the Shanghai church an icon of the Mother of God "Surety of Sinners" and a set of Eucharistic items.
In recognition of the many years of activity in supporting Orthodoxy in China, His Holiness gave Mr MV Drozdov, President of the Coordinating Council of Compatriots in China the Order of St Seraphim of Sarov, III Degree.
The believers were then given small icons of the Resurrection of Christ bearing a Patriarchal blessing.
Funds for the construction of Shanghai's Cathedral of the Mother of God "Surety of Sinners" were collected from Orthodox believers at the invitation of Archbishop Simon (Vinogradov) of Shanghai (1876-1933). The fundraising campaign was launched in 1928.
The foundation of the church was laid in May, 1933, by Bishop Viktor (Svyatin) of Shanghai (1893-1966).
The church was built according to the design of the emigre Russian architect YL Likhonos (1891-1942). The church stands 35 meters tall and accommodated about 2,500 worshipers. The choir loft fits three hundred singers.
Construction was completed in 1937 under Archbishop John (Maximovich) of Shanghai (St John, 1896-1966).
The cathedral was closed during the Cultural Revolution. The building was nationalized and exploited as a warehouse. Later, a restaurant was established in the narthex, and a stock exchange, restaurant and night club in the cathedral proper.
At the present time, the cathedral is under the authority of the Shanghai Municipality, and is used as a museum.