His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia arrived in Kemerovo yesterday for the 40th day of the tragedy that occurred in the Winter Cherry Shopping Mall on Sunday March 25, reports RIA-Novosti.
A fire broke out at the 4-story mall at about 5:00 PM, claiming the lives of 60 people, including 41 children, with another 44 injured. His Holiness began his visit by laying flowers at the people’s memorial at the site of the burned-out mall, where so many lost their lives.
“On the 40th day, we offer a special prayer for those who have passed away. At this place, looking at these flowers and these toys, you can feel in a special way the whole abyss of sorrow which the people, parents, and loved ones have passed through,” the patriarch said to those gathered at the memorial. The ceremony was also attended by various local public and religious figures.
He also expressed words of comfort to the congregation, Recalling the transience of human life and the need to believe in eternity. He then presented the local cathedral a gift of an icon of the holy child martyr Gabriel of Białystok with a particle of his relics, in honor of the many children who perished in the fire.
Then the Russian primate came out of the altar to personally speak with each of the relatives of the victims of the fire. The people approached him for his blessing, and many were weeping. Each relative was blessed with an icon of the Resurrection, and His Holiness offered each one some words of comfort.
“I wish you all peace of soul. Today is the fortieth day, when in some sense, you must stop these deepest feelings. If the feelings continue beyond the 40th day, they can destroy a person. Therefore, in place of the emotions should come prayer, going to church, and good deeds,” Pat. Kirill told the gathered mourners, stressing that it is only the power of God that can bring someone through such grief and sorrow.
The patriarch spent several minutes speaking with Igor Vostrikov, who lost his entire family in the fire. The man told Pat. Kirill that he now finds meaning only in doing good deeds for the benefit of society, and he asked the patriarch’s blessing for such endeavors. His Holiness noted, in particular, that the main thing that will help him survive this tragedy and to find strength is the “personal experience of communication with God.”
Addressing the gathered ecclesiastical and secular authorities, Pat. Kirill also expressed his hope that they would continue to provide material and spiritual assistance to those suffering, and not just in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy.
“I beg you to do everything humanly possible to ensure that we have solidarity with those who are suffering,” the archpastor emphasized. Addressing His Eminence Metropolitan Aristarkh of Kemerovo and the clergy of the Kemerovo Diocese, he underlined that “it is the Church that provides support to people passing through grief, throughout their entire lives.”
“Not 40 years, not a year, not 10, not 20 years, but until the end—as long as the grief torments people, the Church must be with them. And I strongly ask you to always remember the deceased who died in this fire, to offer prayers for them, as well as to offer prayers for the health of their loved ones and relatives,” the primate added.
May 7, 2018