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Friday, 17 February 2017
Handover of St. Isaac Cathedral to Orthodox Church May Become 'Symbol of reconciliation'
Topic: Russian Church

Orthodox believers show their support of the transfer of St. Isaac's Cathedral in St. Petersburg
The handing over of St. Isaac Cathedral to the Orthodox Church may become a symbol of national reconciliation, head of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC), Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill said addressing a meeting of the ROC Supreme Council, held at Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral.

"The handover of St. Isaac Cathedral in St. Petersburg comes in a year that marks the centennial of the Russian Revolution so it may become a symbol of national reconciliation," the Patriarch said. "In the past, the destruction of churches and mass killings of believers carved out a horrible chapter in the book of our history and indicated a division in the nation. But now, the peaceful atmosphere surrounding the churches returned to the believers should become a symbol of accord and mutual forgiveness," Patriarch Kirill added.

He stressed that after the handover, the admission to the Cathedral would be free. According to Patriarch Kirill, the Russian Orthodox Church will be able to carry out all the restoration work in the Cathedral by selling tickets to the Colonnade and arranging paid tours.

© TASS News Agency. 17 February, 2017


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:29 AM EST
Updated: Friday, 17 February 2017 6:43 AM EST
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Saturday, 21 January 2017
World Russian People's Council Proposes December 5th as Day to Remember Destruction of Churches
Topic: Russian Church

Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow in ruins after its destruction by the Soviets on 5 December 1931
This article has been revised and edited from its original by Paul Gilbert, Founder of Royal Russia © 2017

The World Russian People’s Council (WRPC) has proposed December 5, the anniversary of the destruction of Christ the Saviour Cathedral, as a civil day to remember the many Russian Orthodox churches destroyed by the Bolsheviks and Communists in Russia during the Soviet years. The idea was presented at a press conference held last week by the head of the council’s Expert Center Alexander Rudakov.

“We are proposing to discuss the question of making this date a public day—The Day of Remembrance for Ruined Churches—not only of the Russian Orthodox Church, but all churches and religious objects of traditional religions which have been ruined, destroyed, blown up, and desecrated in the era of godless persecutions,” said Rudakov.

“This date proposed by us for discussion—The Day of Remembrance for Ruined Churches—is not an occasion for historical revenge, or for settling historical accounts. It is really an occasion to reflect on the tragedies of our past and make sure they never happen again,” the WRPC representative added, noting that they see the proposal as an opportunity to consolidate rather than split society.

According to Igor Garkavy, director of the Butovo Memorial Center emphasizes that Russians should “understand the magnitude of what was lost.” Before the communist revolution there were 57,000 churches in Russia— this number was reduced to 6,000 in 1991. Among the loss was Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral, blown up on December 5, 1931, and restored in the 1990s. Butovo, a site of mass executions and graves, is now a place of pilgrimage just south of Moscow, where stands a new church in honor of the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia.

Garkavy has also proposed erecting memorial crosses, or at least a plaque, on the site of ruined churches not yet restored.

The World Russian People’s Council is an international public organization founded in 1993, granted special consultative status to the UN in 2005. Patriarch Kirill serves as the council’s head.

© / Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 21 January, 2017


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 4:09 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 21 January 2017 4:27 AM EST
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Wednesday, 11 January 2017
St. Petersburg to Remain Owner of St. Isaac's Cathedral
Topic: Russian Church

St. Isaac’s Cathedral, St. Petersburg
This article has been revised and edited from its original by Paul Gilbert, Founder of Royal Russia © 2017
St. Petersburg will remain the owner of the St. Isaac’s Cathedral, one of the city’s landmarks and a UNESCO World Heritage site, which will be handed over to the Russian Orthodox Church for free use, said Vice-Governor Mikhail Mokretsov.

"As part of carrying out the federal legislation, the St. Isaac Cathedral will be transferred to the Moscow Patriarchate for free use, still St. Petersburg will remain the owner and the cathedral’s legal status will not change," the vice governor explained.

Mokretsov added that failure to comply with the contract to preserve the valuables at the St. Isaac’s Cathedral by the Moscow Patriarchate as a contract party will lead to its termination.
The handover of the St. Isaac’s Cathedral museum to the Russian Orthodox Church, may take at least two to three years, said the museum’s director, Nikolay Burov, during an interview with the TASS News Agency on Wednesday.

Burov said that time is needed to determine the future of St. Isaac’s full-time staff totaling 393 members and of several thousand museum items, which are currently part of the state’s property, and to outline plans for refurbishment.

"The restoration should continue," he said. "We have a renovation plan until 2028 but we should take into account that this professional work is costly."

Many items adorn the cathedral’s interior and exterior, Burov said, adding that "the current law on state museum funds does not regulate this matter."

Burov said the museum at St. Isaac’s Cathedral will definitely cease to exist after its handover to the Church.

According to Burov, St. Isaac’s is one of Russia’s most popular museums visited by some 3.5 million visitors annually.

The director said St. Isaac’s would continue working as museum until the end of 2017.

The St. Petersburg diocese asked the city government to hand the cathedral back to the Church in 2015 but the request was rejected. A year later new requests were sent to Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Governor Poltavchenko.

The cathedral was built in 1818-1858 and transformed into a museum after the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. Church services were resumed at St. Isaac’s in 1990.

Nonetheless, St. Isaac’s was not property of the Orthodox Church even prior to the revolution as its maintenance was very expensive. The cathedral was managed by the Imperial Ministry of Communication Routes and Public Buildings until 1871 and was then handed over to the Interior Ministry of the Russian Empire.

© TASS News Agency / Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 11 January, 2017


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 5:27 PM EST
Updated: Friday, 13 January 2017 9:13 AM EST
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Monday, 12 December 2016
Patriarch Kirill Prays for White Russian Emigres at Sainte-Genevieve-des-Bois Cemetery
Topic: Russian Church

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia at Sainte-Genevieve-des-Bois Cemetery on 6 December 2016 
This article was researched from Russian media sources and written by Paul Gilbert, Founder of Royal Russia © 2016

During his pastoral visit to France earlier this month (4-7 December), Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia prayed for the healing of "the wounds of Russian émigrés" and the final overcoming of separation of the Russian people generated by the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution and the Russian Civil War (November 1917—October 1922).

"Our prayers today are for the lives of our people to become better in a spiritual and material sense for all wounds from separations of the 20th century, including the wounds, which somehow still remain on the body of Russian émigrés, to heal finally," he said when visiting the Russian section of the Sainte-Genevieve-des-Bois Cemetery outside Paris on 6 December. "One particularly realizes the need for spiritual unity of Russians abroad while visiting this holy place," he added.

The Sainte-Genevieve-des-Bois Russian Cemetery is part of the Cimetière de Liers and is called the Russian Orthodox cemetery, in Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois, a commune in the southern suburbs of Paris, France. To house the burials of the White Russians who arrived in Paris after the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, some of the land was granted in 1927 to an English benefactress, Dorothy Paget who had set up with Elena Orlov and her sister Princess Vera Meshchersky a still active retirement home for Russian émigrés nearby in the Château de la Cossonnerie in 1926. 

The Dormition Church (Église de la Dormition-de-la-Mère-de-Dieu), Sainte-Genevieve-des-Bois Cemetery
The first burials in the Russian part of the cemetery, which is still active, date back to 1927. There are over 5,000 graves in which about 15,000 Russians are buried, at the Sainte-Genevieve-des-Bois Cemetery. In 1938-1939 Albert Benois designed the Dormition Church (Église de la Dormition-de-la-Mère-de-Dieu) which serves the cemetery. The church is regarded as an important historic monument and is built in the style of Novgorod Churches of the 15th and 16th century.

Many prominent figures of White Russian émigrés are buried in this cemetery, among them are authors, ballerinas, composers, artists, philosophers, poets, politicians, as well as sections for members of the Russian Imperial Army killed during World War I, the White Army, Cossacks and Cadets Corps.

Members of the Russian Imperial and Noble families include Grand Duke Gavril Konstantinovich, his wife Antonina Nesterovskaya; Grand Duke Andrei Vladimirovich, his wife Mathilde Kschessinska, their son Prince Vladimir A. Romanovsky-Krasinski; Prince Felix Yusupov, his wife Princess Irina Alexandrovna, their daughter Princess Irina Felixovna Yusupova; Princess Vera Meshchersky; among others associated with the Russian Imperial family, Tatiana Evgenievna Botkina-Melnik (daughter of court physician Eugene Botkin); Olga Borisovba Stolypin (wife of the Prime Minister Pyotr Stolypin); Nikolai Pavlovich Sablin, an officer in the Imperial Russian Navy who also served on the Russian Imperial yacht Standart, among others.

On 4th December, Patriarch Kirill consecrated a new cathedral in central Paris, just yards away from the Eiffel Tower. More than 500 Orthodox believers from the Russian community in Paris, including the offspring of Russia’s former princely houses, packed the church for the event. The Holy Trinity Cathedral was opened as part of Orthodox Spiritual and Cultural Center. Situated on the Branly Embankment of the Seine River in the French capital, the complex was constructed on a plot of land purchased earlier by the Russian government. During a speech, the Head of the Russian Orthodox Church also thanked France for its hospitality to the Russian émigrés who arrived in the country following the 1917 revolution.

The Holy Trinity Cathedral and the Orthodox Spiritual and Cultural Center in Paris, France 

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 11 December, 2016


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 1:29 PM EST
Updated: Monday, 12 December 2016 1:54 PM EST
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Wednesday, 23 November 2016
Moscow Prepares to Honour New Martyrs and Confessors with New Church
Topic: Russian Church

Church of New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia in Lubyanka by Russian architect Dmitry Smirnov
This article was researched from Russian media sources and written by Paul Gilbert, Founder of Royal Russia © 2016

Despite the fact that the construction of the Church of New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia in Lubyanka is still ongoing, it is already possible to fully appreciate its majestic appearance. 
The church's construction marks the 100th anniversary of the victims of the Russian Revolution in 1917. 
The beautiful interiors of the church, built on the grounds of the Sretensky Monastery in Moscow, are particularly noteworthy, and can be appreciated in these stunning images presented on the web site.

The foundation stone at the construction site, was laid and consecrated on 28th December 2013, by Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill. At the same time the primate of the Russian Orthodox Church expressed hope that the realization of what happened to Russia in the early 20th century which "brought such untold suffering and sacrifices" will help contemporaries to "remember those events and not to repeat the tragic errors of their ancestors."
The Sretensky Monastery was founded in 1397, it is one of the five oldest monasteries of Moscow. The monastery is located in the center of Moscow, on the now infamous Bolshaya Lubyanka street.

The consecration of the Church of New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia in Lubyanka is expected to take place on 2nd March 2017.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 23 November, 2016


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:40 PM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 23 November 2016 12:57 PM EST
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Thursday, 22 September 2016
On This Day: Cathedral of Christ the Saviour Founded in Moscow
Topic: Russian Church

The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, Moscow
This article has been revised and edited from its original by Paul Gilbert, Founder of Royal Russia © 2016

When Napoleon Bonaparte retreated from Moscow, Emperor Alexander I signed a manifest on 25 December 1812 declaring his intention to build a cathedral in honour of Christ the Saviour "to signify Our gratitude to Divine Providence for saving Russia from the doom that overshadowed Her" and as a memorial to the sacrifices of the Russian people.

On 22 September (O.S. 10 September), 1839 the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour was solemnly founded by the Metropolitan of Moscow Filaret in Moscow to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the end of the Patriotic War and storming of Paris in March of 1814.

The idea to build the cathedral in recognition of the rescue of the Motherland from Napoleon’s armies was approved in 1812. Originally the magnificent building was planned to be built by the design of the architect A. L. Vitberg, but in 1832 the new project prepared by the architect K.A. Thon was approved instead. The site for the construction of the cathedral was chosen by the Emperor Nicholas I himself. It was the territory of the old Alexeevsky Monastery, whereas a decision was made to move the monastery to Krasnoye Selo (today the Novo-Alexeevky Monastery). Funds for the building’s construction was collected in all the churches of Russia, the enormous sum totalling over 15 million roubles was provided by the treasury.

The laying of the foundation stone of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour was a declared national holiday, and included a military parade and a procession through Moscow to honour veterans of the Patriotic War of 1812 and  prayers for those who perished on the battlefields.

On 22 September (O.S. 10 September) 1839 "...Russia’s mother - Moscow seethed in solemn ecstasy, ... Moscow residents flocked from all sides to the place of the solemn procession. The army already in order deployed from the Assumption Cathedral to the very place of foundation of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. On the other side, to the right of the Cathedral of the Assumption, on sidewalks, in windows and on rooftops crowded spectators of the great capital; everywhere prevailed silence .... " The solemn procession - the clergy in full vestments, the emperor and the entire retinue followed on horseback, "... to the place of execution on Red Square, by the church of St. Basil, along the embankment and Prechistenka by Carriage Court; it was led by Saint Filaret, Metropolitan of Moscow and Kolomna.

Upon arrival at the foundation site and having pronounced a prayer, Emperor Nicholas I in the base of the temple laid a cruciform bronze plaque with the inscription: "In the summer of 1839, the day of September 10th, by order of the Great Sovereign Emperor Nicholas Pavlovich the sacred vow, given by Emperor Alexander I who had passed away, is to be fulfilled by his own hand of Emperor Nicholas, failing to erect a temple of Christ the Saviour on the Sparrow Hills, as planned before, the foundation stone is laid at this place for the construction of the cathedral thereof.

The cathedral was being built from 1839 to 1883. Its height from the base to the cross reached 103.5 m, the thickness of the walls was 3 m 20 cm. The double walls had corridors, which contained 177 marble memorials with the description of the events of the Patriotic War of 1812 and Russian campaigns 1813–1814 in the chronological order. The cathedral was decorated by 38 painters: V. V. Vereshchagin, V. I. Surikov, K. E. Makovsky, F.  A. Bruni, I. N. Kramskoy, G. I. Semiradsky etc.    

The solemn ceremony of the cathedral’s opening took place on 26 May 1883, the year of Emperor Alexander III coronation. The veterans of the Patriotic War of 1812 were invited to the ceremony.   

On 5 December 1931 the cathedral-memorial of military glory was destroyed on the order of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. The demolition was supposed to make way for a colossal Palace of the Soviets to house the country's legislature, the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. but the Great Patriotic War broke out and the building was disassembled. In 1958 the “Moskva” swimming-pool was constructed in its place. 

In February 1990, the Russian Orthodox Church received permission from the Soviet Government to rebuild the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, a temporary cornerstone was laid to the east of the pool. By December 2000 the decoration work was completed. The new cathedral differs from the original one by the stylobate part (prolonged basement floor) that houses the Museum, the Hall of Church Assemblies, the Church of the Transfiguration, the Conference Hall of the Most Holy Governing Synod, refectory chambers and different technical services. However the new cathedral includes some old elements – marble memorial plaques from the bypass corridors and the fragments of the main iconostasis.

After the restoration the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour became the Cathedral of the Metropolitan of Moscow, where the main church festive services are held to this day. In 2000 the cathedral was the venue for the Canonization of the Romanovs when the last Tsar Nicholas II and his family were glorified as saints. On 17 May 2007, the Act of Canonical Communion between the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia was signed there. The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour is the tallest Orthodox church in the world, it’s cupolas dominate the Russian capital skyline.

© Presidential Library / Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 22 September, 2016


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:15 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 22 September 2016 8:20 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 12 July 2016
Moscow Patriarch Leads Liturgy in Romanovs' Burial Vault in St Petersburg
Topic: Russian Church

"A festive liturgy on Peter and Paul’s day is a tradition", a spokesperson for the St Petersburg diocese said
Note: this article has been edited from its original by Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia
The Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia, Kirill I leads a festive liturgy on Tuesday in the familial burial vault of the Romanov dynasty in St Peter and Paul’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg, a spokesperson for the St Petersburg diocese told TASS.

On July 12, the Russian Orthodox Church marks the Day of the Preeminent Apostles Peter and Paul, who are regarded as heavenly protectors of St Petersburg.

"Kirill I arrives in St Petersburg after a trip to the Valaam (an archipelago on Lake Ladoga where one of the most venerated Russian monasteries is located - TASS)," the spokesperson said.

"A festive liturgy on Peter and Paul’s day is a tradition, as this is one of the most important Christian feasts that marks the end of the Apostles’ fasting," he said. "It was established to commemorate the delivery of the relics of St Peter and St Paul to Rome in 258."

July 12 (June 29 under the Julian calendar) is the Patron Saint’s Day in St Petersburg, as the city was named after St Peter when founded in 1703.

Upon the decree issued by Emperor Peter I, the first wooden church in the name of the Apostles was laid down on Zayachy Island on July 12. The stone cathedral that has survived through to our days was built from 1712 to 1733 at the design of the Italian architect Domenico Tresini.

The Russian Church consecrated the cathedral in 1742 and it kept the status of the city’s metropolitan see until 1858 when the status went over to St Isaac’s Cathedral.

No services were held in St Peter and Paul’s Cathedral from 1919 to 2000. In 1922, the edifice turned into a department of the Revolution Museum. Its function changed once again in the 1930’s when it became a storage facility of the Central Chamber of Books.

Since 1954, it has been an integral element of the compound of the State Museum of History of St. Petersburg.

The cathedral is the tallest historic building in St Petersburg, with the spire totaling 122.5 m. It is broadly viewed as an architectural landmark of the city.

During World War II when Leningrad stayed under Nazi siege and was the target of innumerable artillery attacks and air raids, the local climbers carried out an unprecedented operation to disguise the spire, as its gilding served as an orienting point for Luftwaffe pilots.

Domenico Tresini modeled the cathedral on Italian basilicas. Today it is one of the best surviving samples of Petrine Baroque.

Peter I donated a carved gilded iconostasis with 43 icons to the cathedral. He personally compiled its composition - with the assistance of Feofan Prokopovich, the archbishop of Novgorod.

It also has the status of a vault of Russian military glory, since the military kept the captured foreign banners and keys from the cities seized by Russian troops in the 18th and 19th centuries. At the beginning of the 20th century, these exhibits were transferred to the State Hermitage Museum.

Peter I made the cathedral an official burial vault of the Russian Imperial Family where virtually all the Emperors and Empresses who ruled after him are buried.

In 1998, the remains of the last Russian Emperor, Nicholas II, Empress Alexandra, their three daughters and their servants, which investigators had found years earlier near Yekaterinburg in the Urals, were buried there.
The remaining two members of the last Russian Imperial family, whose relics remain unburied today, are Tsesarevich Alexis and Grand Duchess Maria, as their remains were found in the Urals only in 2007.

Patriarch Kirill I asked the government in the autumn of 2015 to carry out a new series of genetic tests on the remains of Nicholas II and his father, Emperor Alexander III. The Russian Church believes that positive results of the tests will offer an undeniable proof of genuineness of the remains.

Experts did the exhumations. In case of proof positive, the remains of Alexis and Maria will also be placed to rest in the cathedral’s Chapel of St Catherine.

© TASS Russian News Agency. 12 July, 2016


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:48 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 12 July 2016 8:58 AM EDT
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Saturday, 11 June 2016
On This Day: St. Isaac's Cathedral Consecrated in St. Petersburg
Topic: Russian Church

A stunning moonlit view of St. Isaac's Cathedral in St. Petersburg
Photo © Kirill Kaachkov
Note: this article has been edited and revised from its original by Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia

On 11 June (O.S. 30 May) 1858 a new cathedral of the Russian Orthodox Church – St. Isaac’s Cathedral was consecrated in St. Petersburg.

In 1710 on the decree of Peter the Great a small wooden church was erected in St. Petersburg near the Russian Admiralty. The church was consecrated in honour of Saint Isaac of Dalmatia, a patron saint of Peter the Great.

In 1717-1727 a small stone church, designed by the architect Georg Johann Mattarnovy, was constructed on this site. Some years later due to an uneven land subsidence the church’s vaults and walls started to crack and the fire of 1735, caused by lightning, which struck the spire, causing destruction on the church.

The construction of a third church to the design of the famed Italian architect Antonio Rinaldi (1710-1794) was launched in 1768. Building of the church turned out protracted, Rinaldi left Russia and the construction was finished by the court architect of the Emperor Paul I - Vincenzo Brenna.

Unfortunately, the new church did not harmonize with the grand buildings located in the heart of St. Petersburg, so a contest for a new cathedral was announced in 1809. It brought together the finest architects of that time: A. N. Voronihin, A. D. Zaharov, Q. Quarenghi and many others. All of the project’s participants came with a proposal to completely demolish the old cathedral. However it contradicted the principal contest’s condition — Emperor Alexander I ordered to preserve the old church’s altars and add them in the new cathedral’s construction. It was due to this condition that the contest in 1813 didn’t bear fruit. The young French architect Auguste Montferrand was charged to prepare proposals on the reconstruction of the St. Isaac’s Cathedral. The construction works covered 40 years from 1818 to 1858.

Breathtaking interior views of St. Isaac's Cathedral
The ceremony of the church’s consecration was conducted on 11 June (O.S. 30 May 1858 on the feast day of the Saint Isaac of Dalmatia, and was attended by Emperor Alexander II and members of the Emperor’s family. On the eve of the consecration ceremony was published the “Consecration ceremony of the St. Petersburg Cathedral in honour of Saint Isaac of Dalmatia on 30 May 1858”, which specified the procedure of holding of the consecration ceremony in the cathedral’s three side altars: the main altar — on 30 May, and the side altars — 1 and 8 June.

On the day of the consecration ceremony regiments in full dress uniform were drawn up around the cathedral. Platforms for people were constructed in the Peter’s (Senate) and St. Isaac’s Squares, nearby streets and roofs of neighbouring houses were overcrowded with curious onlookers. The ceremony of the cathedral’s consecration began at 9:00 in the morning and lasted until 4:00 in the afternoon

The St. Isaac’s Cathedral became one of the world’s major cathedrals, its grand dome was the highest point in the Imperial capital. The cathedral’s decoration brought together over twenty different stones: malachite, marble, lapis lazuli and porphyry, as well as numerous gilded and copper sculptures by Peter Clodt, Ivan Vitaly. The cathedral was painted by the prominent artists of the day, including Karl Bryullov, Feodor Bruni, Vasily Shebuev, among others.

Since its consecration the cathedral became the place for holding the city’s festive occasions. Here were conducted grand divine services in honour of patron saints of member of the Russian Imperial family, accompanied by processions and guard’s parades. Military occasions – dates of glorious victories of the Russian arms - were also celebrated at the cathedral.

In June 1928 the St. Isaac’s Cathedral was closed, and its treasures were confiscated by the Bolsheviks. In 1931 the Anti-religious Museum was opened in the cathedral, and later the cathedral’s building received the status of a museum-memorial.

Divine services were revived at the cathedral only on 17 June 1990, when His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia conducted the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom.

Today divine services at the St. Isaacs Cathedral take place on a regular basis on festive occasions and Sundays.
For more information on St. Isaac's Cathedral, please refer to the following articles:

St. Isaac's Cathedral + 3 article and 9 colour photos

© Presidential Library / Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 11 June, 2016


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:35 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 11 June 2016 8:45 AM EDT
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Friday, 26 February 2016
Postage Stamp Dedicated to Patriarch Tikhon Issued in United States
Topic: Russian Church

The envelope is stamped with the date and the words "First day cancellation. USA. New York. Consulate General of Russia"
A postage stamp depicting Patriarch Tikhon (1865-1925) has been issued in the United States. It honours the memory of Patriarch Tikhon who in 1898 was appointed Bishop of the Aleutians and Alaska. During his ten years in the United Statesm he helped translate many Orthodox Christian books into English. On 22 May 1901, he blessed the cornerstone for St. Nicholas Cathedral in New York (fundraising for which had begun in 1894 and to which Emperor Nicholas II contributed 7,500 Rubles in 1900) in a great ceremony, and later opened the first Orthodox seminary in Minneapolis in 1905. 

The presentation and cancellation of the stamp took place on 25th February at the Consulate General of the Russian Federation in New York City. 5,000 copies of the stamp were issued. The event was attended by diplomats, journalists and Bishop John, head of the Russian Orthodox Patriarchal Parishes in the US. 

The stamp was originally issued in Russia on 5th November 2015, marking the 150th anniversary of the birth of Patriarch Tikhon. The stamp depicts a portrait of Patriarch Tikhon with silhouettes of churches in the background.

Tikhon (born Vasily Ivanovich Bellavin) was the first Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia after the Russian Patriarchate was reinstated (1917-1925) in the Soviet Union. 

Patriarch Tikhon managed to preserve Orthodoxy amid revolution, civil war and the turmoil that overwhelmed Russia. He made important steps to normalize relations between the Church and the state, called for an end to bloodshed, opposed decrees on separation of Church and state and on the nationalization of Church property. He openly condemned the killing of Emperor Nicholas II and his family in 1918, and protested against the violent attacks by the Bolsheviks on the Church.

In 1923 Patriarch Tikhon was "deposed" by a Soviet-sponsored council of the so-called Living Church, which decreed that he was "henceforth a simple citizen—Vasily Bellavin." This deposition has never been recognized as an act of the Russian Orthodox Church, and is therefore considered invalid by both the Russian Orthodox Church, and the Russian Federation.

In 1924 the Patriarch fell ill and was hospitalized. On 5 April 1925, he served his last Divine Liturgy, and died two days later, 7 April (O.S. 25 March), the Feast of the Annunciation. He was buried on 12 April in the winter church of Donskoy Monastery in Moscow. 

Patriarch Tikhon was canonized a saint by the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) on 1 November (O.S. 19 October) 1981. He was later glorified by the Moscow Patriarchate during the Bishop’s Council of 9-11 October 1989. The day of glorification of Saint Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, is celebrated on 9 October. The relics of the prelate are kept in the great cathedral of Donskoy Monastery.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 26 February, 2016


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 11:51 AM EST
Updated: Friday, 26 February 2016 12:02 PM EST
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Friday, 12 February 2016
Presidential Library Developing History of the Holy Synod Collection
Topic: Russian Church

Headquarters of the Holy Synod of the Russian Empire in St. Petersburg from 1835 to 1917 and from 2009 to present day
Note: this article has been edited from its original by Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia

By May 2016, the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library in St. Petersburg will have created a collection titled "Holy Synod in the History of the Russian State", which will include more than 1,000 units.

The activities of one of the two highest authorities of the Russian Empire, will show the impact of the Holy Synod not only on the spiritual but also on the social, and political developments of the country. This project is quite important for the Presidential Library because it is located in a historic complex, which housed the meetings of the Holy Synod from 1835 to 1917. In 2009, when the library opened, the Holy Synod returned to St. Petersburg. Two tablets were placed on the facade of the building at 3, Senate Square: the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Through its project the first national electronic library will show the diversity of development of this authority before the revolution, digitize the books and archival files from the library of the Holy Synod, which after the revolution were scattered around the country and abroad, collect the outstanding publications of the Synodal Press, and the history of life of its Chief Procurators.

By now, a number of editions have been digitized. Work is ongoing in cooperation with the Russian State Historical Archive, Tobolsk Historical and Architectural Museum, St. Petersburg State University, and the Moscow Theological Academy and Seminary.

The library’s comprehensive website already makes available digitized copies of documents from the Holy Synod archive: certificates of birth and death of famous compatriots, register of visits of important guests, legislative activities of the Holy Synod, reports of the Chief Procurator Konstantin Petrovich Pobedonostsev (1827-1907), codes of decrees, photos and other documents. The Presidential Library collection also contains digital copies of the "Church Bulletin issued under the Holy Governing Synod." The edition was published from 1888 twice a month and was the official press organ of the Synod. The journal was supplemented by a literary, journalistic piece, "Additions to the church Bulletin", which included selected patristic works, sermons of modern clergymen of the Russian Church, theological articles and church-historical notes.

The history of the Holy Synod began in the 18th century with the church reforms conducted by Emperor Peter I. In 1723, the newly formed department was recognized by Constantinople Patriarch Jeremiah III as an «equally patriarchal brother in Christ." From that moment began, in fact, a new chapter in the history of Russian Church: if with autocephaly of Constantinople in appointing metropolitans (and, of course, the patriarch afterwards) temporal power, having taking control over the ecclesiastical regiment hierarchically, was still looking back at the authority of pastors and bishops, now the "anointed power" both de jure and de facto took over the control of the "anointing power." The key figure in this scheme was the "sovereign's eye" - the Chief Procurator of the Synod.

In addition to its "direct" spiritual duties, the Holy Synod also performed a number of functions that depended primarily on the ambitions and abilities of the Chief Procurator. For example, Empress Catherine II, admiring the collection of ancient manuscripts of Musin-Pushkin appointed the latter chief procurator of the Holy Synod, instructing the agency to continue collecting ancient manuscripts. In just one year, the dioceses collected over one hundred books.

In the 18th century the figure of Chief Procurator rose continually. For example, Emperor Nicholas I already spoke of himself as of "the head of the Church." However, the Chief Procurator became particularly influential by 1880, when the post was taken by Konstantin Petrovich Pobedonostsev - tutor of the royal family and of the heir to the throne, in particular.

The personality of Pobedonostsev was deep, complex and contradictory. In his youth, he wrote a paper on the liberalization of political system of the empire, while in the "Moscow collection" he inveighed against "false constitutional views." He was close friend of the Russian writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky, whom he established friendly relations with. At the same time, his hostility to Leo Tolstoy was growing (later the chief procurator supported the excommunication from the church of the latter).

Having digitized not only books about the time of Pobedonostsev, but also his correspondence, reports and other materials, the Presidential Library will study the personalities of other chief procurators and members of the Holy Synod. During this work it expects many historical discoveries and findings.

© Presidential Library / Paul Gilbert. 12 February 2016


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:39 AM EST
Updated: Friday, 12 February 2016 9:13 AM EST
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