On June 23, 2010, Russia’s First Lady, Svetlana Medvedeva, was greeted with flowers at the entrance to San Francisco’s Cathedral of the Mother of God “Joy of All Who Sorrow” by girls from SS Cyrill and Methodius High School’s “Kazachok” ensemble, who were dressed in traditional Russian sarafans. His Eminence Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco and Western America of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia welcomed Mrs Medvedeva along with a host of clergymen in full vestments.
The First Lady then venerated the Cathedral’s icon of the Mother of God, at which she lit a candle. She also lit candles at the icons of the heavenly protectors of her husband, President Dmitry Medvedev, and her son Ilya. Vladyka Kyrill invited her to attend a moleben at the crypt of St John (Maximovich) the Miracle-worker. Mrs Medvedeva was visibly praying, bowing her head during the reading of the Holy Gospel, and then piously venerated the relics of St John.
At the end of the moleben, Protodeacon Nicholas Triantafillidis intoned Many Years to the President of Russia, his wife and all Russian people in the Fatherland and abroad. Vladyka Kyrill then gave the First Lady an icon of St John painted by the director of the Cathedral Choir, Vladimir Krassowsky.
Mrs Medvedeva then gave Archbishop Kyrill an icon of SS Cyril and Methodius, Equal-to-the-Apostles, Illuminators of the Slavs.
Protopriest Peter Perekrestov, Senior Priest of the Cathedral, showed the First Lady the icons and relics of the Cathedral, beginning with the icon containing the belt of St John of Kronstadt the Miracle-worker, having learned that the President’s wife was from the city of Kronstadt.
This first visit to the San Francisco Cathedral of such an important political figure from Russia created a festive mood. It was remarkable to see the local police escort, and American and Russian security guards, and photographers, including Elena Novak, whose photographs are shown below.
At the end of her visit, Svetlana Vladimirovna thanked everyone in attendance for helping to preserve the Russian spirit far from the Homeland, and for the opportunity to pray at the crypt of the greatest saint of the Russian Diaspora.
Protopriest Yaroslav Belikov
Photos can be seen here