During his trip to Europe the Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov visited Czech Republic. On Pentecost Sunday, June 19, he co-served at the Divine Liturgy celebrated at St. Cyril and Methodius Cathedral in Prague. This is the principal temple of the autocephalous Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia. The existing structure of the cathedral had its origins as a Roman Catholic church built in the 18th century. Later it was acquired by the Orthodox community.
The Divine Liturgy was headed by the senior cleric of the Cathedral, Archpriest Jaroslav Suvarsky. The service was celebrated in the Czech language, with some hymns sung in Slavonic. The church was filled with a great number of faithful, the majority of whom are the recent immigrants from Ukraine, Russia and some other countries. A lot of them received Holy Communion.
Following the Liturgy the main celebrant led the congregation in kneeling prayers of Pentecost proclaimed in the middle of the temple.
After the Liturgy Fr. Igor expressed his gratitude to Fr. Jaroslav for allowing him to pray and to serve in the Cathedral. He also visited the memorial dedicated to St. Gorazd of Prague and his assistants, as well as the Czech patriots killed in the Cathedral during the Nazi occupation. The memorial is situated at the outside Cathedral wall and has an interesting history.
In 1942, during the World War II the cathedral was the scene of the last stand of a number of Czech and Slovak patriots who had assassinated Reinhard Heydrich, the Nazi General of the Police. In making their escape, the group found refuge in the crypt of the Cathedral. The Nazis found out the hiding places after a betrayal by two members of the resistance group. The Nazi troops stormed the church on 18 June 1942 and all the members of the group were killed. Reprisals came quickly. The two priests and the senior lay church officials were arrested. Bishop Gorazd (Pavlik) who was in charge of the Czech Orthodox community at that time, wishing to help his fellow believers and the Czech Church itself, took the blame for the actions in the Cathedral on himself, even writing letters to the Nazi authorities. On June 27, 1942, he was arrested and tortured. On September 4, 1942, Bishop Gorazd, the Cathedral priests and the lay officials were executed by firing squad. In 1961 they were canonized as the New Martyrs.
Concluding his visit to this famous Cathedral Fr. Igor had an opportunity to speak with some of the local clergy and parishioners.