The Russian Orthodox Church of the Nativity of Christ and St Nicholas in Florence, Italy, has been received into the Diocese of Western Europe, which is under the omorphor of Bishop Irenei of Richmond and Western Europe. The Russian Church in Florence dates from 1903. On Sunday 4th November, Mitred Archpriest Pavel Tsvetkoff, a senior cleric of the Diocese of Western Europe and the Cathedral of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross in Geneva, visited Florence to deliver the parish its new Antimins and greet the clergy and faithful on behalf of Bishop Irenei.

Bishop Irenei’s letter to the clergy and people of the parish, read from the amvon following the Divine Liturgy on 4th November, reads as follows:

It is with heartfelt love that I greet you all on this feast day of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God. Living in a time of great tribulations, I pray that you rejoice today for the heavenly protection of the Most-Holy Mother of God and the abundant blessings that Her Son gives all who fervently turn to Him. I cannot be with you today, but I send our most senior priest from Geneva to celebrate together with you, to deliver the antimensia to be used in Divine Services, and to extend to you my most earnest good wishes. We welcome you with open arms, and offer you our prayers and love in this difficult time. Your clergymen were canonically received into the bosom of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, so that they could adhere to the Holy Canons and minister to your souls within the embrace of the Church, free of schism or disputes. They are not under any suspension: on the contrary, they are now entirely able to conduct the Divine Services without fear, without hesitation, to the glory of God and the salvation of all your souls. I call upon you to remain staunch in your faith, humble in spirit, without sorrow or condemnation in your hearts. The Lord Himself led you upon the path of salvation, fear not! Thanks to our struggle, the Lord makes us glad; and I know that He has prepared this for you: spiritual and heavenly joy, which the world cannot take away. I welcome you with all my heart into the Western European Diocese and eagerly await the opportunity to visit and pray together with you. Until then, be confident in my fervent prayers for you all.

With love in Christ,

Bishop of Richmond and Western Europe

A full report of the visit can be seen on the Synodal web site.

This is a significant move and has been reported quite widely. Further reports can be read at and an article is available on the Western European website at 

Bishop Irenei asks us to continue to hold the difficult situation of pan-Orthodox relations in our prayers.