February, 15. The Deputy Chairperson of the Board of The Endowment for St Andrew the First-Called Foundation, Vladimir Yakunin, presented the Abbot of Vatopedi Monastery on Athos, Archimandrite Ephraim, with the international social award of the Foundation of St. Andrew the First-Called, "Faith and Fidelity."
The abbot has been honored for his endeavors in strengthening the spiritual liaison of Orthodox people. The foundation's awards ceremony was held in the State Kremlin Palace late in 2013. Abbot Ephraim could not attend due to reasons beyond his control.
"Over one year ago we received the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill and together with all Vatopedi monks brought the Virgin Mary's Cincture to the Russian Orthodox Church. You saw the huge number of people who came to pay homage to this relic. Bringing the relic contributed to the unity of Orthodox people not only in Russia but around the whole world," Yakunin said, presenting the award in Vatopedi Monastery.
For his part, Abbot Ephraim said, "There is much in common between our monastery and Orthodox Russia. Your people have become a factor in the union of Orthodox peoples."
Ceremony participants included: Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations in the Moscow Patriarchate, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk; Deputy Chairman of the Foundation of St. Andrew the First-Called Board of Trustees and Chairman of the Committee for the International "Faith and Fidelity" Award, O. Y. Atkov; President of the Foundation of St. Andrew the First-Called, M. Y. Baydakov; Honorary President of the Foundation of St. Andrew the First-Called and Federation Council member of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, S. Y. Scheblygin; First Vice President of the Foundation of St. Andrew the First-Called, M. I. Yakushev; Member of the Board of the Foundation of St. Andrew the First-Called, S. M. Khronopulo; Honorary Member of the Foundation of St. Andrew the First-Called, S. M. Petrov; People's Artist of Russia and winner of the International "Faith and Fidelity" Award, D. A. Belyukin.
In 2011, Archimandrite Ephraim escorted the Virgin Mary's Cincture kept in Vatopedi to Russia. Several million people paid homage to the Cincture, including the nation's top leadership. Observers have called this event the world's most attended peaceful gathering in the past 100 years.
Past winners of St. Andrew the First-Called's International "Faith and Fidelity" Award include: Alexy II, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia; Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia; V. V. Putin, President of Russia; I. S. Glazunov, People's Artist of the USSR; F. A. Iskander, Abkhazian poet and writer; M. I. Perelman, Director of the Phthisiopulmonology Research Institute of the I. M. Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University; M. B. Piotrovsky, Director of the State Hermitage Museum; V. M. Klykov, sculptor; V. A. Gergiev, Artistic Director of the Mariinsky Theatre; A. B. Freindlich, People's Artist of the USSR; V. S. Lanovoy, European champion and People's Artist of the USSR, and others.
Photo by Andrey Artamonov