10 June 2007

The Grand Duchess has Transferred Holy Relics from the Cathedral of the Imperial Family to the Russian Orthodox Church of the Nativity of Christ in Madrid

The Grand Duchess has Transferred Holy Relics from the Cathedral of the Imperial Family to the Russian Orthodox Church of the Nativity of Christ in Madrid

On 28 May/10 June 2007, on the Feast Day of All Saints of Russia, which this year fell on the anniversary of the enthronement of His Holiness, Patriarch Aleksei II of Moscow and all Russia, the Head of the Russian Imperial House, H.I.H. Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna attended Divine Liturgy in the Russian Church of the Nativity of Christ in Madrid. On this same day, there took place the celebratory transference by the grand duchess, with the blessing of His Holiness, Aleksei II, of the antimens and holy altar utensils from the personal chapel of the Imperial Family to the Madrid parish of the Russian Orthodox Church, in the person of the rector of the parish, Fr. Andrei Kordochkin.

The Imperial Family’s personal chapel “Ker Argonid” (in the town of St. Briac, in the Department of Ille et Vilaine, Brittany, France) is the church of St. Seraphim of Sarov, built in 1941 with the blessing of Metropolitan Seraphim (Luk’ianov) of the Western European Russian Orthodox Metropolia. Before this time, divine services were performed at “Ker Argonid” in the residence of the Imperial Family by bishops and priests who came and performed the services. In 1941, the Head of the Dynasty, Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich expressed his desire to have a consecrated church with a full-time rector. This effort was aided by the presence of prisoners of war from the USSR who were held at a concentration camp at St. Malo and on the Island of Jersey, since it was therefore possible to get permission from the German Occupation Authorities for a priest to travel from Paris to St. Briac.

The blessing of the metropolitan was given on 2 August 1941, and on 4 November 1941, on the Feast Day of the Icon of Our Lady of Kazan, Fr. John Gorgor-Klochko served the lesser blessing of the chapel of St. Seraphim of Sarov. On 8 November 1941, Metropolitan Seraphim appointed Fr. John as the rector of the chapel, and on 8 March 1942, raised him to the rank of an archpriest. Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich, with the blessing of Metropolitan Seraphim, appointed Prince Alexander Nikolaevich Volkonskii as the chapel’s churchwarden. After the end of the Second World War, when Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich had moved to Spain, the relics from the chapel at St. Briac were taken to the second chapel associated with the Russian Imperial House in exile, and with the Georgian Royal House, which became the predecessor of the Madrid Orthodox Cathedral of Ss. Andrew and Dimitrii.

The first Orthodox house chapel in Madrid was established by the August father-in-law of the Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich, the Head of the Georgian Royal House, His Royal Highness Prince Georgii Aleksandrovich Bagration-Mukhranskii. According to the laws then operative in Spain, it was illegal to found any church that was not Catholic. The police, having been called to the chapel, assessed the situation and, having learned that it was Prince Georgii Aleksandrovich who had organized these regular Orthodox services, were sympathetic and did not suppress the worship, though they did remind His Royal Highness that the law was the law and had to be enforced. However, it was the police themselves who came up with a solution to the problem: there was an exception in the law for chapels in embassies of non-Catholic countries. At this time, the only Orthodox country was the Kingdom of Greece. The authorities then agreed to the idea proposed by Prince Georgii Alexandrovich, that the chapel be considered part of the Greek embassy.

The house chapel, which was set up in the house where Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich and his family lived, continued to function even after the laws changed and it became possible to build the Church of Ss. Andrew and Dimitrii. But the building did not belong to the Imperial Family, and in a short while Their Imperial Highnesses moved to another house, and the chapel, located in the grotto, was unfortunately as a result neglected and its appointments deteriorated.

The Head of the Russian Imperial House, Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna has always regretted the sad fate that befell this chapel. Her Imperial Highness especially worried about the preservation of the antimens and other holy objects from the altar. Having obtained permission to collect from the chapel these holy objects before the demolition of the house (the house is already now pulled down), the grand duchess instructed the director of her Chancellery to investigate what from the chapel could be saved and to go and gather these objects. From the chapel was saved a small chest (larets) with the holy altar pieces and the antimens, the Holy Shroud (Plashchanitsa), several icons and vestments. The Holy Shroud and the vestiments were sent to Russia (after their restoration) for their use at one of the newly built churches in Russia. As for the holy altar utensils, the grand duchess sought the advice and blessing of His Holiness, Patriarch Aleksei II of Moscow and all Russia. The Director of the Her Imperial Highness’s Chancellery, A. N. Zakatov, during an audience with the patriarch, provided a brief history of these house chapels and received from the first hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church the advice to give these holy objects to the Church of the Nativity of Christ in Madrid. Subsequently, during a personal meeting between the grand duchess and the patriarch, His Holiness again blessed the transfer of the holy antimens and altar pieces to the Church of the Nativity of Christ.

The preliminary transfer of the holy objects to Fr. Andrei Kordochkin, the rector of the Church of the Nativity of Christ, took place in Her Imperial Highness’s apartment in Madrid, on 1/14 May 2007.

Please publish modules in offcanvas position.