Kirill I of Moscow, the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church, began his historic, three-day visit to Estonia today with a public prayer service at the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Tallinn.
The visit, the first by the patriarch of the Moscow-based church since he took up the position in 2009, is expected to draw thousands of faithful to events in both Tallinn and in Ida-Viru County. It will also involve meetings with government, municipal and religious leaders.
According to ERR news reports, Kirill landed at Tallinn Airport at 10:10 today, and upon touching down, alluded to having visited the country in his youth. "I have great familiarity with this country," he was quoted by uudised.err.ee as saying. "I feel very close to Estonia."
After the public prayer service he will hold at the cathedral, he is scheduled to meet with Speaker of Parliament Ene Ergma and Prime Minister Andrus Ansip.
In the afternoon, he will lay a wreath at the Linda Monument in honor of victims of Soviet-era deportations and at the Bronze Soldier monument to Red Army soldiers before meeting Tallinn Mayor Edgar Savisaar at the Town Hall.
On Saturday, Patriarch Kirill will be in Ida-Viru County where he will hold a liturgy at the Pühtitsa Monastery at 09:00, and a prayer service at the Cathedral of the Resurrection in Narva at 14:30.
Sunday will see Kirill return to Tallinn to concencrate the new Orthodox cathedral in Lasnamäe. The liturgy will begin at 08:00, while Kirill is expected to arrive at 09:30. As large crowds are expected, two video screens will be set up to show the event to those outside the cathedral.
The Patriarch will conclude his visit at the Estonian St. Mary's Cathedral, the principal seat of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church, and meet Archbishop Andres Põder there.