MOSCOW, June 13 (RIA Novosti) – The head of the Russian Orthodox Church will hold a liturgy in downtown Moscow on Thursday in celebration of Ascension, one of Orthodox Christianity's main holidays, the patriarch’s press service has said.
The downtown Moscow church where Patriarch Kirill will hold the service is called the Greater Church of the Ascension near the Nikitskiye Gates, and holds a special place in Russian cultural history: the revered Russian poet Alexander Pushkin married his wife, Natalya Goncharova, there in 1831.
Orthodox Christians – who make up a majority in Russia, according to pollster surveys – mark the ascension of Jesus Christ to heaven 40 days after Easter, on the sixth Thursday following Easter Sunday, which fell this year on May 5.
In the Christian tradition, while Easter marks Christ's resurrection, symbolizing a victory over sin and death, the ascension is regarded as the formal completion of Christ's mission in the earthly realm and a return to God, the father who sent him.
Updated on June 13, recast throughout to introduce a neutral tone and eliminate unattributed Biblical references.