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Alma-Ata was visited by the Apostolic Nuncio, the Vatican Ambassador, Archbishop George Panamthundil

January 20, 2024. Alma-Ata. The Apostolic Nuncio to the Republic of Kazakhstan, Archbishop George Panamthundil arrived in the Southern capital.

At the airport, the distinguished guest was met by the head of the Metropolitan District's public relations department, Archpriest Alexander Suvorov.

With the blessing of Metropolitan Alexander of Astana and Kazakhstan, the clergyman of the main church of Almaty gave Archbishop George a tour of the Ascension Cathedral. Father Alexander told the diplomat about the history of the construction of the temple, which is the historical and cultural pearl of Semirechye. During the conversation, the uniqueness of the architecture, the historical role and significance of the cathedral in the spiritual life of the southern capital were noted.

During the tour, Archpriest Alexander Suvorov circumstantially dwelt on the details of the large-scale professional restoration of the temple, carried out in 2017-2020. It was noted that all work was carried out under the control of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Kazakhstan and UNESCO, with the involvement of professional specialists of the highest level from Kazakhstan, Russia, Serbia, Italy, Germany and France. Archpriest Alexander Suvorov emphasized that the Ascension Cathedral is included in the list of 100 national sacred sites of Kazakhstan under the presidential program “Rukhani Zhangyru”.

The Nuncio noted the grace and grandeur of the external appearance of the temple and the beauty of the interiors, decorated with paintings made by talented Palekh isographers under the leadership of a member of the Union of Artists of Russia V.K. Kurilova. At the end of the visit, Archbishop George lit candles in front of the cathedral's shrines.

Within the walls of the spiritual, cultural and administrative center named after Metropolitan Joseph (Chernov), the Vatican Ambassador was welcomed by the Head of the Orthodox Church of Kazakhstan.

The meeting was attended by: Bishop Jose Luis Mumbiela Sierra, Administrator of the Roman Catholic Diocese of the Most Holy Trinity in Almaty; Secretary of the Kazakhstan Metropolitan District, Honored Artist of Russia, Member of the Patriarchal Council for the Development of Russian Church Singing O.N. Ovchinnikov; head of the Metropolitan’s personal secretariat, Hieromonk Prokhor (Endovitsky); head of the administrative secretariat of the Head of the Metropolitan District, Priest Georgy Sidorov; head of the Metropolitan Protocol Service, Protodeacon Roman Golovin, employee of the Apostolic Nunciature of Astana, nun Daria.

Metropolitan Alexander told the guest about the celebration of a historical date in 2024 - the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Astana and Alma-Ata diocese and preparations for the 50th anniversary of the repose of Metropolitan Joseph (Chernov) in the Lord. The archpastor informed the Vatican ambassador about the creation of a house-museum of Bishop Joseph in the southern capital. “To date, it has been possible to restore the ancient building where the blessed hierarch lived and worked; The collection of exhibits for future exhibitions is encouraging with good results,” noted the Head of the Metropolitan District.

Vladyka shared his impressions of Nuncia from a recent meeting with the order of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of the Blessed Virgin Maria Archbishop-Metropolitan Tomash Bernard Pat, during which Metropolitan Alexander awarded the Catholic hierarch with the Order “Babytshіlik Pen Kelsime” (the world and consent) Essionic peace and interethnic harmony.

During the conversation, the parties exchanged views on the state of inter-Christian and inter-religious dialogue in Kazakhstan, expressing mutual satisfaction with the situation and assessing the prospects for its development as positive.

Separately, the implementation of joint projects to protect traditional spiritual values and establish in society such sacred concepts as a strong family, raising children, the indissolubility of marriage, and the value of human life from conception to death was discussed.

The head of the Metropolitan District presented the icon of the Great Martyr George the Victorious to the distinguished guest from the Orthodox Church of Kazakhstan. The image was painted in the workshop of the national artist of the Republic of Georgia G. Abuashvili, using the technique of chasing copper with silver and gilding. The icon is an exact copy of the ancient image of the saint. The diplomat gratefully accepted the shrine, noting that the Great Martyr George is deeply revered in the Catholic Church.

In consideration of the work to develop relations between the Kazakhstan Metropolitan District and the Embassy of the Holy See, Bishop Alexander presented Archbishop George with the anniversary medal “150th Anniversary of the Turkestan Diocese.”

The guests were presented with books about the history and restoration of the Ascension Cathedral, calendars of the Metropolitan District and discs with recordings of the Metropolitan Choir under the direction of Honored Artist of Russia O.N. Ovchinnikov.

The meeting took place in a warm atmosphere.