On September 12, 2021, H.I.H. The Tsesarevich and Grand Duke George of Russia and his fiancée Miss Victoria Romanovna Bettarini arrived in St. Petersburg, Russia’s northern capital, on the invitation of His Eminence Metropolitan Varsonofii of St. Petersburg and Ladoga to take part in church services marking the 800th anniversary of the birth of St. Alexander Nevsky and the feast day of the translation of his holy relics from the city of Vladimir to St. Petersburg in 1724. The Grand Duke and his fiancée were accompanied by Kirill Kirillovich Nemirovich-Danchenko, the head of the Office for Relations with Governmental and Civil organizations in the Chancellery of the Imperial House of Russia.
The Grand Duke and Victoria Romanovna Bettarini attended the Divine Liturgy at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in the St. Alexander Nevsky Lavra, which was officiated by His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.
Concelebrating with His Holiness were Their Eminences Metropolitan Vladimir of Kishinev and All Moldova, Metropolitan Vikentii of Tashkent and Uzbekistan, Metropolitan Varsonofii of St. Petersburg and Ladoga, Metropolitan Pavel of Krutitsky and Kolomna, Metropolitan Ilarion of Volokolamsk, Metropolitan Veniamin of Minsk and Zaslavsk, Metropolitan Dionisii of Voskresensk, Metropolitan Feodor of Volgograd and Kamyshin, Metropolitan Aleksei of Cheliabinsk and Miass, Archbishop Nikanor of South Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands, the abbot of the Lavra His Grace Bishop Nazarii of Kronstadt and the monastic brethren, Their Graces Bishop Ignatii of Vyborg and Priozersk, Bishop Mstislav of Tikhvin and Lodeinoe Pole, Bishop Mitrofan of Gatchina and Luga, Bishop Silouan of Lyskovo and Lukoyanov, Bishop Silouan of Peterhof, and also Archpriests Bogdan Soiko, Sergei Kuksevich, Vladimir Sorokin, Gennadii Bartov, Alexander Budnikov, Gennadii Zverev, Evgenii Shogenov, and Alexander Rumiantsev, Archimandrite Aleksei (Ganzhin), Hegumen Filaret (Priashnikov), and other clergy from St. Petersburg and Moscow.
Among the laity attending the service were the Chair of the Federation Council, Valentina Matvienko; the Plenipotentiary of the President of the Russian Federation in the Northwest Federal District, Alexander Gutsan; the Governor of St. Petersburg, Alexander Beglov; the Governor of the Leningrad Region, Alexander Drozdenko; the First Deputy Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation, Sergei Obryvalin; the Chair of the Legislative Assembly of St. Petersburg, Vyacheslav Makarov; and the Mayor of Belgrade (Serbia), Zoran Radojičić.
The Grand Duke and his bride received the Holy Mysteries of Christ and, after the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, took part in the Patriarchal Procession of the Cross, during which the chest with the relics of the Holy Right-Believing Grand Prince Alexander Nevsky was brought into the square in front of the Alexander Nevsky Lavra. An intercessory prayer service, or moleben, followed.
In the afternoon, the Tsesarevich George of Russia and Miss Victoria Romanovna Bettarini attended a reception at the residence of the Metropolitan of St. Petersburg and Ladoga, where the Grand Duke and his fiancée had the opportunity to chat with His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.
His Imperial Highness congratulated the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church on this important anniversary and feast day, and took the opportunity formally to introduce his fiancée to His Holiness. The Patriarch congratulated the Grand Duke and Victoria Romanovna on their upcoming marriage ceremony, and offered them his blessing and best wishes.
Later the Tsesarevich and Victoria Romanovna went to the St. Nicholas-Holy Epiphany Naval Cathedral of St. Petersburg, where they took part in the ceremony of the translation to this cathedral of a fragment of the relics of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker of Myra in Lycia, which came to Russia from Bari through the efforts of the famous philanthropist Prince V. N. Svirsky-Zhimirov. After a moleben, the Grand Duke and Victoria Romanovna Bettarini venerated the chest with the relics and thanked Prince V. N. Svirsky-Zhimirov for his service to the Russian Orthodox Church.
Throughout the day, Grand Duke George met and spoke with many of his countrymen who had traveled to St. Petersburg from all over Russia to attend these celebrations. They warmly expressed their sincerest best wishes on the upcoming wedding and recalled their meetings and conversations with the Grand Duke’s mother, the Head of the Russian Imperial House, H.I.H. The Grand Duchess Maria of Russia, during her many trips to different regions of our homeland.
That evening, after attending a working meeting, the Grand Duke George of Russia and Miss Victoria Bettarini returned to Moscow.