Catholics formally gift holy relics to Orthodox churchThe West was adorned in crimson and gold. The East wore basic black.
Between them stood 2,000 years of blessed antiquity, half of which were spent in common prayer, the latter half as two faiths traveling side-by-side on a spiritual journey, separated only by the fine lines of doctrinal dialogue and the broad path of Patriarchal versus Papal pre-eminence.
But in Sacramento on Saturday night, the Western Roman Catholic Church joined the Eastern Orthodox Church in a celebration of their common past, as Bishop William K. Weigand of the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento presented Metropolitan Gerasimos Michaleas of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco the Holy Relics of Saints Joachim and Anna, the maternal grandparents of Jesus, in a ceremony at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament.
From there, the relics traveled to Saint Anna Greek Orthodox Church in Roseville, where on the following night, Metropolitan Gerasimos designated the local parish as a "shrine to the sanctity of marriage and family," the first of its kind in the world.
Speaking to the crowd of nearly 1,000 people in attendance Saturday evening, the Metropolitan spoke of the "youthful and vibrant parish in Roseville," where "these holy relics will sanctify this land and her people."
The Orthodox Church then presented Bishop Weigand a hand-carved icon of Jesus from Thessalonica, Greece, in recognition of the original gifting of the relics by the Catholic Church in a private ceremony ten years ago in Greece.
Bishop Weigand spoke on the importance of "bridging the division," between East and West, and referenced Pope John Paul II, who in 2004 returned the relics of St. John Chrysostom and Saint Gregory Nazianzen to the Metropolitan of Constantinople.
The magnitude of the event was not lost on the clergy in attendance, both Catholic and Orthodox alike.
"The whole weekend was a great blessing, far beyond my expectations," said Father Michael Kiernan, Pastor of Holy Family Parish in Citrus Heights. "The atmosphere was joyful and prayerful, all in the true spirit of the relationship between Orthodox and Catholic churches."
To read more: East, West find common ground