His Grace Bishop Irenei arrived in Sanremo on the evening of the 14th, directly from his visit to the Cathedral Parish in Geneva, in order to celebrate the Vigil of the Feast. On the Feastday itself, His Grace was greeted at the doors of the extraordinarily beautiful temple in Sanremo by the parish Starosta, upon which the Divine Liturgy was served in the presence of a multitude of faithful who had gathered to glorify the Saviour, born-in-the-flesh, and beg the compassionate intercessions of their heavenly protector, the Venerable St Seraphim, for mercy and spiritual strength in the Christian life. Co-serving His Grace at the Divine Liturgy were the Parish Rector, Priest Dionysius Boikov, together with guest clergy from neighbouring parishes and from Greece. On the eve of the feast, Priest Evgeny Nikitin of the Diocese’s Menton parish joined the Vigil.

At the Little Entrance of the Divine Liturgy, Priest Dionysi was awarded the Gold Pectoral Cross by His Grace Bishop Irenei on behalf of the Holy Synod, in recognition of his years of service in the Holy Altar.

The Parish received the special blessing of a portion of the incorrupt relics of St John of Shanghai and San Francisco, the Wonderworker, who was for over a decade the Ruling Bishop of our Diocese. The sacred relics were brought into the Temple at the greeting of the Bishop, and His Grace formally presented them to the parish at the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy with the prayer that, as they are housed in a specially-commissioned icon of the saint in perpetuity, they will be a source of spiritual grace and strength for all the faithful of the region.

A festive meal followed the Divine Services, where the clergy and faithful continued in spiritual conversation with the Hierarch. Bishop Irenei departed in the evening for London, from where he travelled onward to the Parish of St John the Wonderworker in Colchester, England, where celebrated the Feast of the Theophany.