On Wednesday morning, 13 December 2023, His Beatitude Metropolitan Epiphaniy of Kyiv and All Ukraine made an official visit to the headquarters of the Holy Metropolis of Sweden and All Scandinavia in Stockholm.
He was received at the St. George Cathedral of Stockholm by the Metropolis Archpastor, His Eminence Metropolitan Cleopas of Sweden, while a formal doxology service was held immediately afterwards in honour of the head of the Church of Ukraine.
Following the doxology, Metropolitan Cleopas welcomed Metropolitan Epiphaniy and the members of his entourage, noting the following in his greeting:
“The Holy missionary Metropolis of Sweden and All Scandinavia, this Exarchy of the Ecumenical Patriarchate for the Northern Lands and the visionary city of Stockholm open their hearts today to welcome you with sentiments of ineffable joy and heartfelt emotion.
Your Beatitude, Your presence here among us today represents a special blessing, because it affords us all the opportunity to venerate Your right hand and receive the blessing of the Primate of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine, as we admire its able helmsman, who is as unaffected as he is magnanimous, adorned with patience, sobriety, and prudence, tirelessly working in the service of the Gospel.
In the doxology service that was just celebrated, we offered up heartfelt thanksgiving from this hallowed Cathedral of the Great Martyr St. George the Trophy Bearer to our Lord, Who is the source of all good things and the Founder of the Church, on the auspicious occasion of today’s gathering and communion in Christ. Deeply moved, we now extend to You our deepest and most sincere “welcome!”
Your blessed presence here provides us with the opportunity to recall the inspired decision of the First Hierarch of the Orthodox Church, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, through whose actions and proposals the Church of Ukraine was granted its Tome of Autocephaly in January 2019.
Allow me now to convey to You the heartfelt paternal blessings of His All-Holiness, who has shown his love, paternal care, and concern for the Church of Ukraine and Your Beatitude in manifold ways.
Your Beatitude, we believe that the bonds between our Metropolis and my Humility personally, with both You and the members of the Holy Synod of the Church of Ukraine resonate the sentiments of our love and support for You and the longsuffering people of Ukraine who are presently undergoing trials and tribulations.
Indicatively, I would like to highlight the visit of Metropolitan Hilarion of Rivne and Ostroh last May on the occasion of the art exhibition inspired by military equipment that was organized by the “Armémuseum”; the Swedish Army Museum in Stockholm.
Moreover, I would like to make mention of our welcome and meeting with Ukrainain Ambassador Andrii Plakhotniuk in Stockholm in May 2022, with whom we discussed many current events and timely issues, as well as visits being made by Ukrainian clergy to serve the liturgical needs of our Ukrainian-speaking brethren in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Iceland.
I would especially like to take this opportunity to thank His Eminence Metropolitan Vissarion of Spain and Portugal, with whose canonical permission, a Ukrainian clergymen under his omophorion will be sent to Norway and Stockholm this Christmas, so that the Divine Liturgy may also be celebrated in Ukrainian.
Your Beatitude, now that the days are approaching when we will once again hear the angelic hymn “Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, and good will toward men” be chanted, I pray to the Trinitarian God of love, peace, and justice that the period of tribulations for longsuffering Ukraine be reduced so that you may soon enjoy the fruits of peace and reconciliation.
Your Beatitude, please bless our people so that they may continue their spiritual struggle in faith, hope, and patience, bearing witness to Jesus Christ unwaveringly and uncompromisingly, shining forth as a light for all to see!”
In closing, Metropolitan Cleopas also welcomed visitors and guests who were on hand, beginning with the members of Metropolitan Epiphaniy’s entourage, Metropolitan Yevstratiy of Bila Tserkva, the Rev. Deacon Fr. Andrii Sydor, and their personal assistant Mr. Roman Labinskyi, as well as Bishop Pavlo Shvarts of the Lutheran Church of Ukraine and the Chairman of their Synod Rev. Oleksandr Grosse.
He also welcomed Rev. Peter Lindvall, Head of the Ecumenical Department, Rev. Dr. Christopher Meakin, Theological Secretary of the Lutheran Church of Sweden, the chaplain of the Swedish Theological Institute of Jerusalem Ms. Karin Ekholm, the representative of the Lutheran Church of Norway and Ecumenical Secretary Rev. Fr. Einar Tjelle, the Bishop of Skalhot from the Lutheran Church of Iceland Sr. Kristjan Björnsson, the representative of the Christian Council of Sweden Misha Jaksic, the new Greek Ambassador to Sweden Her Excellency Ekaterini Fountoulaki and the Ambassador of Cyprus to Sweden, His Excellency Solon Savva.
Together with the visitors in attendance, Metropolitan Cleopas thanked the parish priest of the St. George Cathedral Archimandrite Bartholomew Iatridis, who was representing the Metropolis clergy, Ms. Athina Karapanagiotidou, who was representing the Cathedral parish council, and finally, volunteers Ms. Olga Karapanagiotdiou and Messrs. Elias Gergi and Eleftherios Tsengos.
At the end of the doxology and greeting by Metropolitan Cleopas, His Beatitude Metropolitan Epiphaniy expressed his gratitude to His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew for granting the Tome of Autocephaly, and for the care displayed by His All-Holiness and the Mother Church of Constantinople for Ukraine.
Afterwards, he thanked Metropolitan Cleopas for welcoming him and offered a supplication to the Prince of Peace Jesus Christ for an end to the fighting in Ukraine.
Metropolitan Epiphaniy then offered Metropolitan Cleopas a bishop’s engolpion, while the latter offered his guest a copy of his recently published study on the Unpublished Letters of St. Nectarios of Pentapolis and a trilingual publication of the Divine Liturgy.
A small reception was then held at the “Museum of Hellenic Christian Heritage”, on site at the St. George Cathedral, followed by a luncheon at the restaurant “Cypern”, located adjacently to the Cathedral, in honour of Metropolitan Epiphaniy, the members of his entourage, and all the guests courtesy of the restaurateurs Messrs. Nikolaos Athanasiou and Athanasios Kalpakas.
On Tuesday evening, 12 December 2023, Metropolitan Cleopas, accompanied by Fr. Bartholomew Iatridis, attended the celebrations honouring the feast of St. Lucia, at the residence of the Lutheran Archbishop, at the invitation of Archbishop Martin Modéus.
There, a twenty-member choir from the youth group of the Cathedral of the Lutheran Cathedral in Uppsala offered hymns dedicated to St. Lucia, the upcoming feast of the Nativity, and to peace in Ukraine.
The Lutheran Archbishop and his wife then offered a dinner in honour of Metropolitan Epiphaniy and his entourage, as well as the representatives of the Christian denominations in the Northern Lands.
On the afternoon of December 13th, Metropolitan Epiphaniy and his entourage left Stockholm and departed for Finland.
Source: Metropolis of Sweden