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November 19, 2012November 19, 2012  0 comments  Geography

"Every Christian should visit these holy places at least once in their lives and, if possible, more often", said the Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill by Archbishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk, the Bishop of Podolsk, during the Patriarch's recent visit to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Archbishop Hilarion recalled the quote during his recent meeting with Tourism Minister Stas Mizeshnikov. The was visiting Israel as part of an official delegation accompanying Kirill, the Patriarch of Moscow and of Russia.

In his briefing to Israel's tourism Minister, Stez Misechnikov, the Archbishop stressed that he expected that the Patriarch's declaration in Bethlehem would prompt a significant increase in pilgrimages to the Holy Land among the Russian Orthodox and perhaps even other Orthodox Christians.

Since Israel's elimination of the visa requirements for tourists from Russia and Ukraine tourism from these countries has risen considerably over the last two years. The Russian Orthodox Church has about 145 million faithful around the world.

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