Russian Patriarch Awards Catholic Charity

KOENIGSTEIN, Germany, MAY 19, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Russia awarded the secretary-general of Aid to the Church in Need the order of St. Olga, Equal to the Apostles.

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The Society of the Pontifical Law announced Wednesday the high decoration given to Antonia Willemsen of the international charity.

Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow said in a letter of congratulations: “We highly appreciate the aid that your charity is giving to the Russian Orthodox Church, namely for the reconstruction of churches and monasteries, for social and charitable projects and for the rebirth of theological formation.”

The order of St. Olga, Equal to the Apostles, is a decoration for women. It refers to Princess Olga, who died in 969, who was among those who first proclaimed the Gospel to the people of the Russia. She paved the way for the country’s conversion to Christianity, which took place in 998 under her grandson, St. Vladimir, Equal to the Apostles.

John Paul II requested that Aid to the Church in Need establish contacts with the Russian Orthodox Church after the fall of the Iron Curtain, and assist it in recovering from the effects of communism.

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