A group of Chinese pilgrims arrived in the Blagoveshchensk* diocese. They arrived on Pentecost in order to venerate the Albazin Icon of the Theotokos.
On June 23, 2005 in the Annunciation* Cathedral on Relochnoy a Divine Liturgy was served, with a procession lead by the heavenly patroness of the Far East - the Albazin Icon of the Theotokos.
The Most Holy Patriarch ALEXY sent his greeting to the pilgrims who assembled to venerate the miracle-working icon of the Queen of Heaven.
[*Translator's note: The name of the city, diocese and cathedral derive from the Russian word for Annunciation, which means Good News.]
Your Eminence, reverend fathers, dear brothers and sisters!
I cordially welcome all of you who have assembled today in Blagoveshchensk for common church prayer before the wonder-working Albazin Icon of the Theotokos, "the Word made Flesh". It is wonderful that this event coincides with the visit to Blagoveshchensk of a pilgrim group of former Albazinians from Beijing.
Sharing our joy in this celebration, I invoke God's blessing on all of who assembled under the arches of this cathedral temple.
For centuries temples were built to confirm people in faith, love and piety. This temple in the city of Blagoveshchensk -- is a place of special reverence of our Most Holy Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary. This is also the Cathedra [the See] of the ruling diocesan archpastor, through whose labor and care the cathedral is maintained in due grandeur. I am also delighted to note the good spiritual fruits of service to the church throughout the diocese.
The path to the Kingdom of Heaven is difficult and the gate is narrow. But the prayerful intervention of the Fervent Intercessoress for Christians helps us to compare our thoughts and deeds to the eternal truths of the Gospel, which was left for our guidance by her beloved Son and God, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Let us remember this in all of life's trials and circumstances, so that with love and patience we'll continue on the path to salvation.
I hope that the first pilgrimage of Chinese Orthodox to Blagoveshchensk will have a fitting succession -- to promote the strengthening of good neighborly relations between our countries and peoples.
May the All-Merciful Lord continue to bestow His abundant mercy and blessing to all who rely on the prayerful intercession of the Queen of Heaven.
Let us offer our fervent prayers: O Most Holy Theotokos, save us!
PATRIARCH OF MOSCOW AND ALL RUSSIA