08 November 2016

Greetings from the Head of the House of Romanoff to the St. Irene Forum: “The Spiritual Foundations of the Slavic World (Moscow, Vitebsk, and Nizhnii Novgorod)”


I send my heartfelt greetings to the organizers and participants of the St. Irene Forum on the topic of “The Spiritual Foundations of the Slavic World.”

It is a source of great joy for me that the idea of holding this scholarly forum should have originated in the Church of the Holy Great Martyr Irene, which was founded by my ancestor, Tsar Mikhail Feodorovich.  It is symbolically significant that in 2013, when Russia was celebrating the 400th anniversary of the ending of the Time of Troubles, the reestablishment of the Russian State, and the ascension to the throne of the House of Romanoff, his Holiness Patriarch Kirill and the Holy Synod should decide to found in this church a Patriarchal Mission and the Representative Office of the Belorussian Exarchate in Russia.

When I visited the Church of St. Irene in September of last year, I had the opportunity to participate in services and meet with His Eminence Archbishop Dmitry of Vitebsk and Orshansk, with the parish clergy and with parishioners.  I also had the opportunity to hear firsthand how the Vitebsk Eparchy, the Nizhnii Novgorod Metropolia, and the St. Irene parish community were working together with the Vitebsk State University; the International Association of Peace Foundations; the International Slavic Academy of Sciences, Education, Arts, and Culture; and my Chancellery, to bring about this Forum.

I feel sure that the St. Irene Forum has a bright future, and that it will become a model of collaboration for the Holy Church, historical institutions, institutions of higher education, scholarly and civic organizations in the field of religious education.  I feel sure that it will serve to strengthen the unity of the peoples of our great country, and expand cultural ties with countries along our borders and beyond.

I wish you all success in your efforts to preserve the traditional values of our common cultural space, to develop cooperation among the Slavic nations, and to foster interaction with all those around the world who love Russia, hold dear its heritage, and wish to be of service to her. 

My son and heir, the Grand Duke George of Russia, also sends his greetings to everyone involved in the Forum.

May the Lord bless you all!

H.I.H. the Grand Duchess Maria of Russia

Madrid, October 26/November 8, 2016


The text of the greeting above from the Head of the House of Romanoff to the St. Irene Forum was read by the Director of Her Imperial Highness’s Chancellery, Alexander N. Zakatov (co-chairman of the Forum) at the plenary session on November 8, 2016, in the Church of the Holy Great Martyr Irene on Pokrovskoe in Moscow.  The text of the greeting was then presented to the chairman of the Forum, His Eminence Archbishop Dmitry of Vitebsk and Orshansk.

Other greetings were read at the Forum as well, including those from the Russian Commissioner for Human Rights, Tatiana Nikolaevna Moskalova (read by her representative), and from the representative of the Moscow Patriarchate to the Belorussian Exarchate, Archimandrite Vassian (Zmeev).

Then Professor S. N. Baburin, PhD—co-chair of the Forum, President of the Association of Law Schools, President of the International Slavic Academy of Science, Education, Art, and Culture—read the greetings from a number of prominent governmental and civic leaders, including the First Deputy Speaker of the State Duma, Ivan Ivanovich Melnikov; the chairman of the Duma Committee for Affairs Related to the Commonwealth of Independent States, Eurasian Integration, and Relations with Russians Abroad, Leonid Ivanovich Kalashnikov; the chairman of the Duma Committee for Social Groups and Religious Organizations, Sergei Anatolievich Gavrilov; the President of the International Association of Foundations of Peace, Deputy to the State Duma, and 12-time chess champion Anatoly Evgenievich Karpov; and a representative of the Russian Chamber of Commerce, Andrei Dmitrievich Dementiev.

The first paper at the Forum was read by Hegumen Peter (Pigol) PhD (Cand. Sci., Theology), of the Moscow Vysoko-Petrovsky Monastery, on “Konstantin Leontiev (the monk Kliment) on Slavic Unity.”

The Director of the Chancellery of the House of Romanoff, Alexander N. Zakatov, PhD (Cand. Sci., History) then gave a paper entitled “‘The Russian World’: Problems of Terminology and of the Social Acceptance of Concept.”

Vasilii Mikhailovich Simchera, PhD (History) gave a paper on the topic “The Dynamics of the Economy of the Slavic World Over the Course of 1000 Years.”

The historian and philanthropist Vladimir Alexandrovich Kalashnikov dedicated his paper to the problem of how to convey traditional values to the younger generation, and described how he ran the Youth Section.

Kirill Alexandrovich Frolov also gave a paper on the topic on the spiritual unity of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus and of attempts to destroy that unity; and the musicologist Elena Gennadievna Shatko spoke about Orthodox art as a factor in the unity of the Slavic peoples.

The summary plenary session at the end of the Forum was chaired by His Eminence Archbishop Dmitry of Vitebsk and Orshansk.  He noted in his comments that at the root of all our efforts should lie our love of Christ, and that fidelity to the Holy Church is the linchpin of the spiritual life of Russia, and our assurance of the preservation of the spiritual and cultural ties between the Slavic nations and all other Orthodox peoples.  Love of Christ and fidelity to the Church also promotes the formation of good and positive relations with all the peoples of the world.

After the session concluded and before departing for Vitebsk, participants in the Forum visited the Novospassky Monastery, where, in the Church of St. Roman the Melodist—the mausoleum of the ancestors of the House of Romanoff and of the Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich—a Litiya commemoration service was performed for Tsarevna Irina Mikhailovna.  It was in honour of her patron saint, the Holy Great Martyr Irene, that the first Romanoff tsar, Mikhail Feodorovich, dedicated the Church of the Holy Great Martyr Irene, who gives her name to this remarkable and important Forum.

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