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Wednesday, 16 May 2012
Russian Orthodox Church Opens Facebook Account on Patriarch
Topic: Russian Church


The information department of the Russian Orthodox Church has opened a Facebook account called Patriarch Kirill to inform internet users about his life and work, a deputy chief spokesman for the patriarch said on Tuesday.

“It is not a personal page of Patriarch Kirill. It is an official information resource of the Moscow patriarchate maintained by the Synod information department,” said Deacon Alexander Volkov, adding that the account would not make it possible to contact the church leader personally.

The Facebook account offers rare photos of Kirill, including some from his younger years.

The partriarch’s press service already has a separate Facebook account and LiveJournal includes a web page on Patriarch Kirill. In 2010, the Russian Orthodox Church opened its own YouTube channel.

© RIA Novosti. 16 May, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 4:37 PM EDT
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Tuesday, 15 May 2012
The Lost Bells of Solovetsky Monastery
Topic: Russian Church


Solovetsky Monastery in 1915 (Photo: Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky) 

Historians and archeologists have got a real chance to find the place of sinking of bells of Solovetsky Monastery lost in 1923 under obscure circumstances. 

Many of these bells are 500 years old. In July the next expedition will start off from Petersburg.

The site of 50 sunken bells of the Spaso-Preobrazhensky Solovetsky Monastery remains a secret for nearly 90 years. Tens of documents have been collected and a few exploratory expeditions have taken place. In 2006 the bell of the Anzersky hermitage of the Solovetsky Monastery was found in the White Sea; however it turned impossible to salvage it. 

A few months later one more expedition, the most large-scale is starting from Petersburg. Researchers say that this time the chances to find the bells are extraordinarily great.

© 15 May, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:24 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 15 May 2012 6:37 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 8 May 2012
Old Icon Returns to Moscow Convent
Now Playing: Language: Russian. Duration: 4 minutes, 37 seconds
Topic: Russian Church

Vladimir Putin, who became Russia’s president earlier this week, together with the head of the Russian Church Patriarch Kirill, took part in a religious procession in Moscow.

The procession was held on the occasion of handling an old and very venerated icon of the Mother of God over to the Church from a museum.

The icon belonged to the Moscow Novodevichy convent until the convent was closed by the atheistic Bolshevik regime in 1922. After that, the icon was kept in the Moscow Historic Museum.

Now, a decision has been taken to return the icon to the Church.

Historian of religion Alexey Yudin believes that this is a very significant event for the Russian Church.

“This icon, known as the Iver icon of the Mother of God, is a copy of a much older icon,” he says. “This copy was made for the Russian Tsar Alexey Romanov at the Iver monastery on Mount Athos in Greece in 1648.”

“Mount Athos is a place known for centuries-old traditions of monasticism.”

“In fact, three copies from this icon were brought to Russia during the reign of Mikhail Romanov,” the historian continues, “but this particular copy was the first one brought to Russia. When it arrived, the tsar himself, surrounded by a crowd of believers, came out to meet it.”

“The Iver icon of the Mother of God has always been especially venerated in Russia.”

An old chronicle says that when the Athos monks were painting this copy, they observed a very strict fasting and performed day and night church services twice in a week.

An autograph of the copyist has remained on the icon. It says in Greek: “Iamblichus Romanov, a monk from Iver, painted this icon with great diligence in the year 7156.” (Which corresponds with the year 1648 according to the new chronology.)

Initially, the icon was placed in the Assumption cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin. However, in 1654, the Russian army, which was holding a campaign against Poles, took the icon with itself to protect the army. One may believe in miracles or not, but the campaign ended with the victory of Russians.

When the icon returned to Moscow, Tsar Alexey Romanov decoded to hand it over to the Novodevichy convent. He believed that it was the Mother of God who brought the victory to the Russian army.

The Novodevichy convent is believed to be one of the most beautiful architectural ensembles of Moscow. It is situated in a picturesque place near the Moskva River.

The convent was founded in 1524. It has several times saved Moscow from enemies. When Crimean Khan Kazi-Girei attempted to besiege Moscow in 1591, Russian soldiers, who hid behind the powerful walls of the convent, opened fire on the khan’s army and prevented it from entering the city.

When French Emperor Napoleon retreated from Moscow in 1812, he attempted to blow up the Novodevichy convent. However, one of the convent’s nuns managed to put out a fired cord, which led to a cell with gunpowder, several minutes before the explosion.

In 2004, the Moscow Novodevichy convent was included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List as a unique historic and architectural site.

In an interview with the Voice of Russia, the convent’s prioress Mother Margarita Feoktistova said:

“Since the Iver icon was handed over to our convent by Tsar Alexey Romanov, the only time that it left the convent was in 1913, when 300 years of the reign of the Romanov dynasty were celebrated.”

“In 1922, the Bolshevik regime closed the convent and made it a branch of the Moscow Historic Museum. The icon remained in the convent but was kept in a reserve depot.”

“In 2010, a decision was taken to return the convent to the Russian Orthodox Church. The museum left the territory, but it took the Iver icon with itself.”

“We were very sorry to part with the icon,” Mother Margarita says, “but we couldn’t do anything about it because, officially, the icon still belonged to the museum."

“Now we are very glad that the old and much-venerated icon has returned to us.”

At the solemn ceremony on Sunday, Russia’s soon-to-be president Vladimir Putin handed the icon over to Patriarch Kirill and Metropolitan Yuvenaly of Krutitsy and Kolomna. They carried the icon from the convent’s gates to the Smolensk cathedral, where it hung before 1922 and where it will hang now.

© The Voice of Russia. 08 May, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 4:29 PM EDT
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Friday, 4 May 2012
Russian Orthodox Church and Ministry of Culture Sign Historic Document
Topic: Russian Church


An Agreement on Cooperation between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian Ministry of Culture was signed this week at a meeting held at Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow.

The main point of this paper concerns the preservation of architectural and cultural monuments owned by the Russian Orthodox Church. Since the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of Communism, the Ministry of Culture has taken an active role in the restoration of churches that were seized after the Bolshevik Revolution.

"With regard to very important objects of Russian culture, such as churches and monasteries, we are, and will continue to be a part of the restoration efforts, using only the finest and recognized experts in this field"- said the Russian Minister of Culture, Alexander Avdeev.

Further, the Patriarchal Council for Culture has agreed to create special programs for its ministers. This will include a series of lectures on the theory and practice on the conservation of cultural monuments. A special course will be developed and offered to students at the seminary.

The Patriarchal Council for the Arts has prepared a manual for churches and monasteries prepared by experts in the field of restoration. "We recognize the need for close cooperation, particularly with regard to the transfer of churches, monasteries and other religious objects back to the church"- said the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, Kirill.

The Russian Orthodox Church has already begun preparations marking the 700th anniversary of Saint Sergius of Radonezh  in 2014. Currently, the focus of the ROC is a monument to St. Hermogenes, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, who is regarded as a symbol of the reunification of Russia during the Time of Troubles.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 04 May, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:48 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 4 May 2012 8:19 AM EDT
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Thursday, 26 April 2012
Restoration of the Church of the Resurrection of Christ
Now Playing: Language: Russian. Duration: 2 minutes, 21 seconds
Topic: Russian Church


Restoration work has begun on the Church of the Resurrection of Christ in St. Petersburg. 

This magnificent red-brick, Russian Revival church stands next to the Warsaw Railway Station among the sadly neglected factories and warehouses along the Obvodny Canal. Built between 1904 and 1908, when the area was the heart of St. Petersburg's heavy industry, surrounded by proletarian slums, the church was the center of the city's Temperance Movement - "The All-Russian Alexander Nevsky Society of Sobriety".

Whether the church was paid for from the coffers of the Society, or from a special Imperial tax on drinking houses of one kopek for every thousand taken, remains uncertain, but its construction was a major undertaking, involving three of St. Petersburg's most prominent architects and designers - Andrei Gun, German Grimm and Gustav Goli. The result was one of the city's finest modern churches, its traditional form comprising a large single cupola with four much smaller domes, all of a deep sea green that contrasts beautifully with the churches red-brick walls, and a splendid, multi-layered belltower.

Inside, the church was unusual for its lack of interior ornament and its use of reinforced-concrete arches to support the central cupola, doing away with the need for columns along the nave, and thus maximizing the space available for worshippers. The aim was to fill the church with workers from the surrounding slums, and the main attraction was an icon of the Resurrection of Christ, presented to the Society of Sobriety by Damian, Patriarch of Jerusalem. Before the Revolution, the Church of the Resurrection attracted up to one million supplicants a year, and the Society could count its work a success.

After the Revolution, the icons and frescoes were stolen or destroyed. During the Soviet period, it was used as a warehouse and a cinema. The building was returned to the Russian Orthodox Church during Perestroika.

The reconstruction of the historical interiors will include the iconostasis, frescoes, gilding, and extensive repairs to the 400-squre meter dome which dominates the church.

© 26 April, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 11:49 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 28 April 2012 12:06 PM EDT
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Monday, 23 April 2012
Moscow Needs More Than 900 New Churches
Topic: Russian Church



Moscow needs a total of 907 active churches to reach the Russian average, said Vladimir Resin, who along with church leaders oversees a program to build 200 new churches in the capital.


The average Russian ratio is approximately 11,000 residents per church, while in Moscow every church has a total of 40,000 potential visitors and during religious holidays the figure may soar to as high as 100,000 visitors a day.


“Unfortunately, the 200 churches [planned for construction] won’t solve the problem for Moscow. To reach the average Russian figures, we need 591 new churches with 316 already active,” he said.


Resin was the first deputy Moscow mayor in charge of construction for the past ten years. He continues to oversee the church construction program after becoming a member of the State Duma, the lower chamber of the Russian parliament.


The program to build 200 churches, initiated by the Moscow Patriarchate, was supported by a decree of then-Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov in August 2010. Sergei Sobyanin, who took over as the capital’s mayor after Luzhkov’s dismissal, also expressed his approval for the program.


At the moment, construction sites have been chosen for all 200 churches, and 20 of them are already being built. Construction costs are estimated at 170-250 million rubles ($5.75-$8.45 million), depending on the building’s capacity.


According to the Religiopolis center of religious and theological studies, there were a total of 535 Orthodox churches in Moscow as of 2011, including chapels.


© RIA Novosti. 23 April, 2012


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:27 PM EDT
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Thursday, 19 April 2012
Naval Cathedral of Saint Nicholas Consecrated in Kronstadt
Now Playing: Language: Russian. Duration: 1 minute. 39 seconds.
Topic: Russian Church

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and First Lady Svetlana Medvedeva attended the consecration ceremony of the Naval Cathedral of Saint Nicholas in Kronstadt. The ceremony was carried out by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, the Kremlin press service reports.

The Naval Cathedral of Saint Nicholas in Kronstadt is the main shrine of the Russian Navy. The cathedral was founded in 1902 by decree of Emperor Nicholas II in honor of the 200th anniversary of the Russian Navy. In 1929 it was closed and desecrated.

The cathedral was consecrated in a public ceremony attended by Emperor Nicholas II and his family June 10, 1913 

“The Naval Cathedral has a very complicated history, in which, like in a drop of water, the dramatic 20th century history of our nation is reflected,” noted Medvedev. “It was built and consecrated in the beginning of the century; this was done by popular demand of sailors, who were personally involved in collecting donations and contributed to the construction of the cathedral in cooperation with the Admiralty. St John of Kronstadt also participated in the cathedral’s consecration. Unfortunately, because of subsequent events, the cathedral was desecrated and for a long time the building was used for other purposes. But a city like Kronstadt, a city that is home to Russia’s naval base, must have its own large naval cathedral.”
In 2009, at Patriarch Kirill’s initiative, a board of trustees was established to restore the cathedral. It is expected that the cathedral will be fully restored in time for the 100th anniversary of its first consecration, which will be celebrated in 2013.

© Russkiy Mir. 19 April, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 20 April 2012 6:46 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 28 February 2012
Onion Domes Bring Tears to Paris Mayor
Topic: Russian Church


A glass canopy will swoop over part of the garden, joining the stone cultural centre and church with nine golden domes

Plans to build a 25-meter-tall Russian Orthodox Church are being given a similar reception to the Eiffel Tower more than a hundred years ago.

­The Mayor of Paris Bertrand Delanoe describes the church with its five gilded domes, as “ostentatious”. The Mayor fears it won’t match “the harmony of a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the perspective of the Eiffel Tower”. He says that if the authorities give Russia the green light to build the church, it will only be for diplomatic and financial reasons.  

Earlier this year Russia put in a planning application for a church and a cultural centre on the site of a former headquarters of the French Weather Service. The whole complex will be a little over 4,000 square metres and include a library, a divinity school and a meeting point for Russian community members.

The project is the brainchild of Russian and French architects headed by Spanish artist Manuel NuÑ ez-Yanowsky. However, the idea of its creation belongs to the late Patriarch of Russia, Aleksey II who proposed the idea to French President Nicolas Sarkozy back in 2007.

© Russia Today. 28 February, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:19 AM EST
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Monday, 27 February 2012
Cossacks to Guard Moscow Churches
Topic: Russian Church

Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow 

Activists of a Cossack society in Moscow will guard all Orthodox Christian churches in the city’s southeast after a provocative stunt was staged by feminist group Pussy Riot in a downtown cathedral.

“Cossacks are setting up patrols by every church in the district,” the district administration cited the group as saying on Monday .

The Cossack group, called Southwest, also demanded that the Pussy Riot group be put on trial by church believers, the report said.

Pussy Riot radicals shocked the Christian community last week, when five masked members of the female group stormed the Christ the Savior Cathedral to perform a “punk prayer” attacking the church for its ties to the Kremlin. Churchgoers were too stunned to prevent them from escaping, while a video of the stunt became a hit on YouTube.

Church spokesman Vsevolod Chaplin demanded to make blasphemy a criminal offense following the incident. Lawmakers did not react but city police opened a case on hooliganism charges, punishable with up to seven years in prison.

Details of Cossack involvement in church protection remained unclear on Monday. Earlier this month, representatives of the Cossack community voiced plans to form “vice squads” to enforce a controversial ban on 'gay propaganda', currently being considered by the St. Petersburg city legislature.

Pussy Riot first made national headlines in January, when they performed an anti-government song on Lobnoye Mesto, a spot on the Red Square where executions are believed to have taken place in tsarist times. Two activists were detained but got away with fines of 500 rubles ($17).

© RIA Novosti. 27 February, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 3:13 PM EST
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Monday, 20 February 2012
Russian Cathedral in New York to be Renovated
Topic: Russian Church


Renovation works have started at St. Nicholas Russian Patriarchal Cathedral in New York, they are to take four months.

The roof and cupolas will be capitally repaired, crosses on cupolas will be renovated, the Russian Church in the USA reports on its website.

Liturgical and parochial work of the cathedral will be changed or limited in the renovation period.

The cathedral was constructed in 1902. Nicholas II made the first contribution to the construction, it was five thousand of gold rubles. St. John of Kronstadt blessed the works and made his contribution of 200 rubles.

The church was erected for year and a half by an American building company of that time John Downy and Son.

© Interfax. 20 February, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:01 AM EST
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