As part of an official delegation, Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill was accompanied in a visit to Israel by Archbishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk, the Bishop of Podolsk.
A press release from Israel's Ministry of Tourism states that during the Patriarch’s recent visit to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem he said:
“Every Christian should visit these holy places at least once in their lives and, if possible, more often”.
The call for Christians to visit the holy sites by the Patriarch was quoted by Archbishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk during his recent meeting with Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov.
Archbishop Hilarion stressed the fact that, as a result of the Patriarch’s declaration in Bethlehem, an increase in pilgrimages to the Holy Land can be expected.
During the visit, Misezhnikov emphasized that one of the ministry’s main goals is to continue the upward trend in the numbers of visitors to the holy places, in particular from Russia and Ukraine and in other countries under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate.
The Russian Orthodox Church has about 145 million faithful followers around the world.
The minister presented the Archbishop with a gift to remember his visit to Israel.
Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov. and Archbishop Hilarion