Russian Patriarch Visits Cyprus, Brings Back Relics of Lazarus

Reuters reports:

Cyprus took a 2.5 billion euro ($3.15 billion) loan from Russia last year. It now urgently needs at least 1.8 billion euros by the end of this month to rescue its banking sector, torpedoed by its exposure to its bigger brother, Greece.

…Many in Cyprus think the only place the country could find that kind of cash would be Moscow. Especially if President Demetris Christofias – the EU’s only Communist leader and a fluent Russian speaker from his Moscow university days – wants to avoid the tight conditions Brussels normally attaches to its rescue funds.

Cyprus officials have said they are in discussion with Moscow for a loan of 4-5 billion euros… The question is: what would Russia get in return?…

This is the context in which holy relics have been given Russia; the Voice of Russia recently announced that

Russia has obtained the relics of St. Lazarus. The shrine with the relics was handed over to the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church in the church of St. Lazarus of the Four Days in Larnaca, Cyprus, in a move that ended Patriarch Kirill’s visit to the insular state. The Russian Patriarch visited Cyprus from the 8th to the 11th of this month.

…The handover of a Christian shrine to Patriarch Kirill is a sign of respect the Orthodox Church of Cyprus is showing towards the Russian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Krisostomus of Kityon stressed.

“Our hearts, Metropolitan Krisostomus says, are overflowed with sacred feelings and sincere jubilation because your presence here enables our pious and long-suffering people to get a blessing from the famous Russian Orthodox Patriarch – something that is decorated with humility, temperance, splendor and love. We are keeping a watchful eye on your activity that reflects grandeur of Orthodox faith and helps us hope for the best society in the world which could be based on principles of love, equality and recognition of basis human rights,” Metropolitan Krisostomus concludes.

The tomb of Lazarus was identified at Larnaca in Cyprus in 890; according to Arethas of Caesarea, writing in the tenth century, Emperor Leo VI had them brought to Constantinople; these relics were taken during the sack of Constantinople and have since been lost in translation. Happily, however, further relics were discovered in 1972 during church renovations.

Kirill’s visit also afforded an opportunity to discuss the Turkish presence in the north:

 The head of the Cypriot Orthodox Church asked the Russian Orthodox Church on Friday to help achieve the liberation of northern Cyprus from Turkish occupation, the result of a 1974 invasion that he likened to the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941.

“The pious Cypriot people look in hope to the sister Church of Russia, which you have headed by the grace of God, in the expectation that you will continue to help them in their struggle for the liberation of their occupied territories and the restoration of human rights that they have been waging for 38 years,” Archbishop Chrysostomos II said in addressing the head of the Russian Church, Patriarch Kirill, during a meeting of the Holy Synod of the Cypriot Church.

In 2007, Time described the Russian Orthodox Church as a “a vital foreign policy instrument”. Late last year Archimandrite Ephraim of the Vatopedi Monastery on Mount Athos, while in Russia with the Belt of the Mother of God, met Vladimir Putin and asked him to provide Greece with assistance.

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