- Patriarch Kirill has made history as church's first boss to visit Antarctica
- During his visit to the freezing continent he was chased by a penguin
- The bird followed him with outstretched arms after he tended the colony
- He later prayed alongside polar explorers at Russia's Holy Trinity Church
The leader of the Russian Orthodox Church appears to have won over the locals in Antarctica with a a history-making trip to the freezing continent.
For Patriarch Kirill's divine presence captivated not just Russian scientists and explorers - he also converted the penguins.
Footage of his visit, released by the church, showed him being chased across the beach by one particularly enamoured bird.
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Patriarch Kirill wanders along the stony beach while a particularly enamoured penguin followed him
When the bird broke into a run with outstretched arms, the church figurehead stopped and turned to greet it
He had finished tending to the penguin colony when many of the birds began to take a liking to him
Patriarch Kirill, leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, stares at a penguin during his historic trip
In this photograph released by the church, Patriarch Kirill poses for a photograph with the penguins
Here he is photographed staring out a window from inside Russia's Bellingshausen research station
With outstretched arms, it waddled after the religious leader, who stopped and stared as it followed him across the rocks.
A photograph of the 69-year-old - making the first-ever church leader visit to the continent - kneeling eye-to-eye with a curious penguin also went viral on social networking sites.
Kirill arrived in Antarctica late yesterday Moscow time and visited Russia's Bellingshausen research station on the island of Waterloo, the church said.
At the station's onion-domed Holy Trinity Church, he held prayers for polar researchers including 64 Russians who have died on polar expeditions.
The Russian Orthodox church, which opened in 2004, is the only one on the continent to hold services all year round with priests spending the winter there.
He said: 'Here you are at the end of the planet. When I blessed water in the Antarctic today, I thought about the whole Earth that is below us and prayed for God's creation,' RIA Novosti state news agency reported.
His spokesman Alexander Volkov declared: 'This is an historic event in the life of Russian Orthodoxy, a proof that the Russian Orthodox Church exercises its office on all continents.
'There the Patriarch will pray for the entire world.'
Russia has 10 research stations on the Antarctic, some of which operate only in summer, able to accommodate up to 120 people.
About 30 nations operate permanent research stations in Antarctica including the United States Russia, Australia, Britain, France and Argentina.
Kirill was on a tour of South America that had included a historic meeting with Pope Francis in Cuba, the first encounter between the heads of the long-estranged Churches in nearly 1,000 years.
Patriarch Kirill, of Moscow, conducts a service at the Holy Trinity Church in the station in Antarctica
Here the revered figure of the largest of all Orthodox churches poses by a Russian sign on the windswept continent