Photo: Yuri Kostygov
On July 13, 2014 at the diocesan administration of Saint Petersburg, the Chancellor of the Moscow Patriarchate Metropolitan Varsonofy of St. Petersburg and Ladoga received the delegation of the State Administration for Religious Affairs of the People's Republic of China, headed by its chief Wang Zuo'an. The delegation arrived in Russia at the invitation of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.
Welcoming the Chinese guests, Vladika Varsonofy said: "In St. Petersburg there are many Orthodox shrines that we hold dear. There is a spiritual school, where we prepare one representative of China. We are ready to take more of your students. Russian Orthodox Church recognizes its responsibility to the Orthodox in China, and we are ready to help them. St. Petersburg is connected with Shanghai as twin cities. In Shanghai, there are Orthodox churches, and we thank the Chinese government for the restoration of one of them; we would like to discuss the possibility of using the temple for humanitarian purposes. "
Metropolitan Varsonofy told the guests from China about modern life of the Russian Orthodox Church, the restoration of churches and monasteries, clergy training, development of social services and charity works, cooperation between the Church and the State in socially significant and patriotic projects. The head of the Diocese of Saint Petersburg especially focused on church life in St. Petersburg.
Photo: Artem Kostrov
In reply Wang Zuo'an thanked Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia for the invitation to visit Russia, and Metropolitan Varsonofy - for the honor that he had shown the delegation by his welcoming reception.
"This is our first visit to St. Petersburg - a great city - said Mr. Wan Zuo'an. - Today we visited the Hermitage and St. Isaac's Cathedral, have felt the importance and role of Orthodoxy in Russian society.
During the warm exchange, which continued during the reception that was given by Metropolitan Varsonofy of St. Petersburg and Ladoga in honor of the guests from China, the two sides exchanged views on the historic visit to China, of the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia. Wang Zuo'an pointed the fact to the Russian side that the President Xi Jinping called the Patriarchal visit, the first ever visit, of a religious figure of such high level in China. After the meeting, the sides exchanged souvenirs.
After reception, the abbot of Alexander Nevsky Monastery, Bishop Nazary of Kronstadt has shown the guests from China the Alexander Nevsky Lavra. The Chinese delegation visited the Lavra necropolis where, among other prominent people is buried the Russian chief of 9th Russian Spiritual Mission in China Archimandrite Hyacinth (Bichurin).
On the same day, the rector of the St. Petersburg Theological Schools Archbishop Ambrose of Peterhof met with the head of China's State Administration for Religious Affairs Wang Zuo'an and accompanying director of the 4th Department of SARA Ms. Lu Jinguang, director of the third department of SARA Ma Jin, performing acting director of external relations department of SARA Ms. Xiao Hong, head of the department of external relations of SARA Ms. Xue Chunmei and deputy chief of staff of SARA Li Lianhe. During the meeting, held in a warm and friendly atmosphere, the two sides discussed a wide range of practical issues related to the Russian Orthodox Church's preparation of Orthodox Chinese students.
The Chinese delegation visited the State Hermitage Museum, St. Isaac's Cathedral, Peter and Paul Fortress and Cathedral of Our Savior on the Spilled Blood.
The delegation of the State Administration for Religious Affairs of the PRC was escorted on the trip to Russia by D.I. Petrovsky of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate and L.A. Afonina, researcher at the Institute for Far Eastern Studies.