This article was originally published by Pravoslavie.ru on 12 May 2017
A Hierarchical Divine Liturgy was celebrated on Thursday, May 11 in the chapel at the St. Petersburg Hermitage Museum for the first time in 100 years, reports the site of the St. Petersburg Theological Academy.
The first episcopal Liturgy since the bloody 1917 Russian revolution in the Hermitage, which once served as the main residence of the Russian emperors in St. Petersburg, was celebrated by Archbishop Ambrose of Peterhof, the rector of the St. Petersburg Theological Academy. The Liturgy was concelebrated by a number of local clergy and sung by two choirs from the academy, with academy students and museum employees present.
Archbishop Ambrose stated, “We have glorified the Risen Lord in these Paschal days, in the church dedicated to His Image Not-Made-By-Hands. The connection between time and the history of our great Fatherland is felt here. Although this is a renewed church, the spirit of the past is present in it anyways, because it’s impossible to remove from eternal memory the prayers and supplications of all the people who have entered under the arches here, to receive a blessing for the very difficult but great task of managing the Russian state.”
During the Liturgy, the clergy and parishioners prayed for the repose of the great rulers, emperors, and empresses of Russia, as well as the deceased heads and employees of the museum, and also the for the health of the current staff.
Reflecting upon the historical significance of the day, the archbishop exclaimed, “The Body of the Church is living and acts by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. It is precisely the Holy Spirit that directs us on the path of life and instructs us how to act, so as not to interfere with the benevolent providence of God, Who cares not only for each of us, but for our people, for our Church, and for our Fatherland and our churches.”
Relics of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker will leave Italy and come to Moscow for the first time in almost 1,000 years. Experts believe that this agreement was reached after Patriarch Kirill met Pope Francis in Cuba.
The relics of one of the most venerated saints in the world, St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, will come to Russia from Italy. The news was reported by the Department of External Church Communications of the Moscow Patriarch on April 28.
"From May 21 to July 28, part of the relics of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker from the Papal Basilica in Bari (Italy) will be presented in the Russian Orthodox Church," says the statement.
The relics have been in Bari for 930 years and this is the first time they will leave the city, the statement explains.
The agreement on this unprecedented event was reached as a result of the historical meeting between the Patriarch of Moscow and All Rus' Kirill with Pope Francis on Feb. 12, 2016 in Cuba.
The holy relics will be brought to Russia on a charter flight and will be accompanied by a delegation from the Roman Catholic Church, the Kommersant business daily quotes Father Alexei Dikarev from the Department of External Church Communications' Secretariat on Inter-Christian Affairs. "Not all the relics will be brought to Russia, just a part of them," he said.
In Russia the relics will be shown first in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior and then in one of the St. Petersburg cathedrals.
"For believers the presentation of St. Nicholas' relics is not only a symbolic occasion, it is also a real confirmation of the dialogue between the two churches," Kommersant cites Roman Lunkin, director of the Center for the Study of Religious and Social Problems at the RAS Institute of Europe. "Nicholas the Wonderworker is a saint both for Catholic and Orthodox believers, thus this event demonstrates the miracle of Christian unity."
In his view, "cooperation between the churches became possible after the meeting between Pope Francis and the patriarch in Havana, when cultural and scientific contacts began developing and attitudes to Catholics in Russia changed for the better."
"The presentation of the relics is also an unprecedented gesture of goodwill from the Vatican because a battle has been waged since the Middle Ages for the relics of this saint. And only now are they leaving Bari for the sake of Christian dialogue with the Russian Church," Lunkin is convinced.
The status of the Patriarchal Cathedral that St Petersburg’s landmark Cathedral of St Isaac may get after its transfer to the administrative control of the Russian Orthodox Church will impart special spiritual significance to it, Alexander Volkov, the press secretary of the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Kirill I told TASS on Thursday.
He said that His Holiness Kirill would take on the role of the father superior of the cathedral if the transfer did take place.
"If you take a possible form of administration at the St Isaac’s after its transfer then I think this particular form (the Patriarchal Cathedral) will be correct for this particular cathedral from the point of view of both Petersburg and the entire country," the Rev Volkov said. "The patriarchal status will give it special significance from the standpoint of its place in the Church."
He recalled that several other churches in Russia had this status and the decades of application of such administrative patterns had proved their efficacious nature.
"The boldest instance in this case is the Cathedral of the Savior in Moscow," the Rev Volkov said. "It has a special place in the life of the Russian Church and of our entire society, as all the key events take place there."
"The Cathedral of the Savior is the center of Russia’s spiritual life and it’s only natural that the Supreme Hierarch of the Church leads services there quite often - the fact that many believers also find to be very important," he said.
The Rev Volkov recalled that all the proprietary and financial issues related to the Cathedral of the Savior fell into the realm of powers of the Board of Trustees the Cathedral’s Fund.
Kirill I makes several trips a year to St Petersburg, his native city. The next visit is to take place on April 30.
The main item on Kirill I’s agenda during this trip will be to venerate the memory of his spiritual teacher, the late Metropolitan Nikodim of Leningrad and Novgorod (b. 1929, d.1978), and to lead a liturgy in the Holy Trinity Cathedral of the city’s biggest monastery, the Laura of St Alexander of the Neva.
His Holiness will not visit the St Isaac’s that has turned into a centerpiece of red-hot public debates in Russia society after the decision of St Petersburg Governor, Georgy Poltavchenko, to turn it over to the Russian Church. "A visit there is off the Patriarch’s agenda now," the Rev Volkov said.
He did not confirm a report by the RBC news agency that the official transfer of the cathedral on Russia Day, a national holiday marked on July 12. "I’ll refrain from saying anything about specific dates because they are the subject of our contacts with the appropriate state authorities," he said.
"I think any date on which the transfer will take place will be a really good day," the Rev Volkov said.
The compound of the St Isaac’s cathedral is owned by the government of St Petersburg. Simultaneously, the cathedral enjoys protection at the federal level, while UNESCO has placed it on the world heritage list.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 Orthodoxy.ru 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.
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.
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.