Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople arrived in Moscow today (May 22, 2010) on an official visit, after being invited by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, according to the RT (Russian Television) website.
At Vanukovo Airport, the head of the Constantinople Church was welcomed by his Russian counterpart, Patriarch Kirill, more than 100 Russian Orthodox priests, children from parochial schools, and several officials.
Patriarch Bartholomew said he and his delegation arrived as pilgrims, to pray at churches in the capital and St. Petersburg. He will also visit the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius and the Valaam Monastery of Valaam Island.
The Patriarch of Constantinople is viewed as "the first among equals" in his relationship with other Orthodox patriarchs. He is also the spiritual leader of more than 300 million Orthodox Christians throughout the world. He resides in the Turkish city of Istanbul -- formerly called Constantinople -- which was the capital of the first Christian empire.