Kirsan Ilyumzhinov decided to visit the holy relics of the Great Martyr after the miracle that occurred in the old annex to the Elista Kazan Cathedral on the night of May 15 to 16, 2004. That night the lamp burned in front of the icon of Saint Panteleimon. At the same time, the icon started to emanate a bright glow, which penetrated all corners of the room. At that time Bishop Zosima was a member of higher orders of clergy of Kalmyk and Elista. He and the local priests were fortunate enough to "witness the Miracle of the Lord." After the glow stopped, the icon of Saint Panteleimon, painted about 50 years ago, miraculously renewed itself.
The Orthodox Kalmykia considered the wonderful glow of Saint Panteleimon icon to be a sign, reminding of another significant event - the 60th anniversary of the appearance of Christ in the Kalmyk steppe. In September 1946, in Elista, during the Orthodox service, a hundred believers saw the phenomenon of a pillar of fire, in which people saw the silhouette of the Saviour. The reliability of the evidence of believers was not questioned by the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church.
With the blessing of Patriarch Alexy, the present Kazan Cathedral was built on the site of the pillar of fire in the second half of the 90s - 50 years after the appearance of Christ. The patriarch personally came to consecrate it and presented the icon of the Mother of God to the Kalmyk Cathedral. Incidentally, in the old building of the church almost next to the icon of Saint Panteleimon there is a religious image of the event of 60 years ago - the pillar of fire and the Christ in it.
Returning from Saint Panteleimon Russian monastery on Mount Athos, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov sent a group of Orthodox priests from Kalmykia, led by Bishop Zosima, to a religious pilgrimage to the holy Mount Athos. Fifteen priests from Kalmykia lived with the monks from Athos for seven days, and they also got the opportunity to kiss the relics of the Holy Healer Panteleimon and the Iberian icon of the Mother of God.
According to Archbishop of Elista and Kalmykia Zosima, the pilgrimage of Orthodox priests became possible with the support of Kalmyk President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, who "himself visited Athos and was greatly impressed by the spiritual energy of this Christian monastery."
Thus, the Kalmyk diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church became the first one, where all the leaders of the Orthodox parishes made a pilgrimage to Athos.