« A group of pilgrims of the Diocese of Sourozh visited Bari for the Feast of St Nicholas »

A pilgrimage to the holy relics of St Nicholas the Wonderworker in Bari on the occasion of his feast day took place from 17th -19th December, 2015. The main group of 10 pilgrims, led by Archpriest Joseph Skinner, was made up of parishioners of our cathedral who serve the church community in various ways according to their abilities, devoting much time and effort to their work. Some other parishioners made their way independently.

The pilgrims arrived in Bari on the evening of Thursday, Dec. 17th and were accommodated at the hotel where a large pilgrimage group from Russia was staying.

Early the next morning there was an opportunity to visit the basilica, to pray quietly in the crypt and venerate the tomb of the saint before the crowds arrived. This was followed by an excursion to the town of Alberobello, where the pilgrims were able to venerate relics of Ss Cosmas and Damian, by the kind permission of the senior priest of the Cathedral. Fr Joseph celebrated a moleben to the saints in which a large number of clergy and pilgrims from the main pilgrimage also participated. They were happy to meet the representatives of the Sourozh diocese and to join in prayer with us.

In the evening, the Vigil was served in chapel of St Spiridon at the Russian podvorye. It was headed by His Eminence, Metropolitan Mefodiy of Perm and Kungursk, who, by the blessing of His Holiness the Patriarch, was heading the official pilgrimage from Russia.

On the day of the Feast, the Divine Liturgy in the basilica was headed by His Eminence Mefodiy, Metropolitan of Perm and  Kungur. Their Graces, Bishop Hilarion of Kineshma and Palekh, Bishop Nikon of Shuya and Teykovo, Bishop Veniamin of Rybinск and Uglich, and the newly-appointed head of the parishes of the Moscow Patriarchate in Italy,  Bishop Antoniy of Bogorodsk, the Rector of the Patriarchal podvorye in Bari, Archpriest Andrei Boitsov and about 40 priests concelebrated.

The Synodal choir of the Moscow Patriarchate under the direction the distinguished artist of the Russian Federation, Alexei Puzakov, sang the Liturgy splendidly. Afterwards a short moleben was served in the crypt and everyone had a chance to venerate the holy relics of St Nicholas.

The pilgrimage ended with a festive lunch at the hotel. The distinguished guests included the head of the provincial administration and former Mayor of Bari and the prior of the monastery which serves the basilica, Fr Giro Kapotosto. The latter had been received in Moscow by His Holiness the Patriarch a few weeks previously. The good relations between the local Roman Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church were very evident.