About a month after the Vatican Secretary of State’s visit to Russia, Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Hilarion made a private visit to Pope Francis this morning, in his residence Santa Marta.
According to Vatican Radio, during the visit, the primary diplomat of the Russian Orthodox Church, thanked the Pontiff for his having recently loaned the relics of the 4th century Saint Nicholas of Myra.
Recently, for about a two-month period, the saint’s relics were moved from the southern Italian city of Bari to Moscow and St Petersburg. While in Russia, the relics drew great crowds of Orthodox pilgrims.
According to the official site of the Russian Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow, over the weekend, the Metropolitan, who heads the Russian Orthodox Church’s department for external church relations, met with Benedict XVI in the Vatican. They were said to have discussed the encounter of Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill in Havana, Cuba, in February 2016, where they signed a joint pastoral declaration, and how the Russian Orthodox Church is being revitalized.
Speaking to Vatican Radio following the Metropolitan’s meeting with Francis, Hilarion noted that while relations have been warming between Moscow and Rome, there are no current plans for Pope Francis to visit Russia, or for Patriarch Kirill to visit the Vatican.
No Pope has ever visited Russia.