The Feast of the Nativity of the Mother of God was celebrated on 8th / 21st September 2018 for the first time as the new Altar Feast of the Diocesan Cathedral, following the Great Rite of Consecration that took place just before the festal Divine Liturgy that morning.
The Synod Meets in London. Bishop Irenei Appointed Ruling Bishop of Great Britain and Western Europe
The day prior to the Feast and Consecration, on 7th / 20th September, the Holy Synod of Bishops held a regular session in London, having assembled in the city on account of the forthcoming Feast.
During its deliberations, the Synod named Bishop Irenei, who since 2017 has been serving as the Administrator of the Diocese of Great Britain and Ireland while remaining responsible for the Vicariate of Sacramento in Western America, as Ruling Bishop of Great Britain and Western Europe. By the same decision, Bishop Irenei’s title was changed to ‘Bishop of Richmond and Western Europe’.
The first time this title was used was at the Vigil of the Feast, in the commemorations of the Divine Services. The form of liturgical commemoration has been updated for the diocese.
The Rite of Consecration
The Service of the Consecration of our Cathedral, served just prior to the Festal Liturgy, was presided over by His Eminence Archbishop Mark, Vice-President of the Holy Synod of Bishops, together with His Eminence Archbishop Gabriel of Montreal and Canada, His Grace Bishop Irenei of Richmond and Western Europe, His Grace Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan, and the special guest of the Synod, His Grace Bishop Matthew of Sourozh. Assisting the Hierarchs were Archpriest Serafim Gan (assistant to the Holy Synod), Archpriest Paul Elliott (Chancellor of the Diocese), Archpriest Vitaly Serapinas (Vice-Rector of the Cathedral), and Archpriest Dmitri Neduspenko (from the Diocese of Sourozh), together with Archdeacon Peter (Karakozoff) from San Francisco and Deacon Mark Tattum-Smith from the parish in Mettingham, and a host of Diocesan Subdeacons and Altar servers.
The Great Rite of Consecration began in the centre of the temple with the vesting of His Eminence Archbishop Mark. He was then joined by his fellow celebrant hierarchs and the four priests, with the remaining Hierarchs of the Holy Synod, together with a host of Priests, vested alongside them. All the Clergy entered the Holy Altar and the service began with the blessing of the base of the Holy Table. Wax mastic was poured into the four holes at the top of each column, prior to the top of the Holy Table being blessed and placed atop them, being driven into place by four nails hammered by rocks held in the hands of the Bishops and priests — an ancient custom of using stones in the fabrication of Holy Altars that dates back to the times of the Old Testament. The Holy Table was then anointed with water, rosewater and wine, and chrismate with Holy Myrrh, with new Antimins blessed for the service of the Divine Liturgy. The newly-blessed Holy Table was then bound with a linen covering and cord that will remain perpetually upon it; and a great procession was had with the precious relics of the Saints that were then interred within the Holy Table.
The Divine Liturgy of the Feast
Presiding over the Hierarchal Liturgy of the Feast, served upon completion of the Rite of Consecration, was His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, together with his fellow members of the Synod of Bishops: Archbishop Mark of Berlin and Germany, Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco and Western America, Archbishop Gabriel of Montreal and Canada, Archbishop Peter of Chicago and Mid-America, Bishop Irenei of Richmond and Western Europe, and Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan. The Synod members were joined by His Grace Bishop Matthew of Sourozh (Moscow Patriarchal Diocese in Great Britain). Additionally, some fifteen Priests and two Deacons served the Festal Liturgy, as many as possible serving in the Holy Altar and others praying at the Amvon and partaking of the Divine Mysteries. A very large congregation were gathered to joyfully celebrate this great feast and the consecration of the Diocesan Cathedral.
Following the Divine Liturgy, the First Hierarch greeted the faithful after being welcomed by His Grace Bishop Irenei, and the parish presented His Eminence Archbishop Mark with a mitra as a gift of thanks for his many years serving the parish and Diocese.
Photographs thanks to Mark Fisher, of our parish in Cardiff.