President Vladimir Putin message reads, in part:

“I sincerely wish you a Happy Christmas.

This Christmas holiday brings joy and hope to millions of believers as they feel closer to their spiritual roots and national traditions, united through eternal Christian values and our nation’s centuries-long historic and cultural legacy.

With great satisfaction, I would like to acknowledge the fruitful and truly selfless efforts of the Russian Orthodox Church and other Christian denominations that support civil society and accord in our country, and the development of the inter-faith and inter-ethnic dialogue. Another important contribution they make is to strengthening lofty moral values and ideals in society, educating the younger generation and resolving current social issues.

I wish all Orthodox Christians and everybody who is celebrating Christmas good health, success and happiness.”

Vladimir Putin attended Christmas mass at the Church of St. Symeon the God-Receiver and Anna the Prophetess in St Petersburg. After the service, the President presented the church with a mid-19th century two-tiered icon featuring the images of The Birth of Holy Theotokos and Christ’s Resurrection, as well as those of Saints Elijah the Prophet, Anna the Prophetess, Symeon, Saint Michael the Archangel and other saints revered by the church.

The Church of St. Symeon the God-Receiver and Anna the Prophetess was built in 1734 on the order of Empress Anna Ioannovna in the style of St Petersburg Baroque with elements of old Russian architecture on the site of the 1714 wooden church dedicated to Saint Michael the Archangel. The church is an architectural monument and one of the city’s oldest Orthodox churches.

Attribution: Article and Image unedited and in its true form from the President of Russia Website Kremlin Moscow licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International.