04 November 2016

A Commemoration Service is held for all the victims of civil strife in Russia in the Church of the nativity of Christ in the St. John the Apostle Orthodox Institute of the Russian Orthodox University

On November 4, 2016, on the feast day of the Kazan Icon and the state holiday Day of National Unity, a panikhida, or requiem service, was held for all the victims of civil strife in Russia in the Church of the Nativity of Christ in the St. John the Apostle Orthodox Institute of the Russian Orthodox University. With the blessing of the church’s rector, the service for “all who perished on the battlefields of the civil wars, in the chains of captivity, in labor camps, or in exile in foreign lands” was officiated by Heiromonk Nikon (Levachev-Velavenets), the advisor to the Dean of the Institute.

This now traditional commemoration service for the victims of the Civil War, which is attended by the descendants of both “Reds” and “Whites,” has been enthusiastically supported by the Russian Imperial House. The Head of the Imperial House, the Grand Duchess Maria of Russia, has called upon her countrymen to find the path to peace and reconciliation and to accept the indisputable fact that, in any civil war, there is never one side that is absolutely in the right or is absolutely in the wrong.

Before the service, Hieromonk Nikon gave a short sermon, in which he provided a short history of commemorations like this one on the Day of National Unity. He noted that this was the first time this service was being held in the Church of St. John the Apostle in the Orthodox Institute, and conveyed the greetings to everyone in attendance of the church’s rector, Hegumen Peter (Yeremeev).

Among those attending the service were the Head of the Legal Department of the Presidential Office for Civil Service and Personnel, A. M. Kovalev; members of the Chancellery of the Head of the Russian Imperial House, led by its Director, A. N. Zakatov; S. N. Baburin and several public figures on the political left; members of the organization “For Faith and Fatherland,” led by the Chairman of its Board of Directors, K. R. Kasimovsky; members of the Russian Nobility Association, led by its Chairman, O. V. Shcherbachev; the former Deputy Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation, V. I. Bragin; one of the oldest activists in the legitimist movement, Colonel V. P., Poterukhin; the Vice-Chairman of the Moscow Branch Office of the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society, S. Iu. Zhitenev; Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of the Arts and Distinguished Artist of Russia I. G. Mashkov; members of Georgian community in Russia; and faculty and students of the Institute.

After the service, Archpriest Dmitrii Roshchin, the Head of the Department for Coordination with Public Organizations of the Synodal Office for Media Relations, gave a short sermon, in which he expressed his confidence that services like the one just offered are an important element in the effort toward national peace and reconciliation.

At the close of the ceremony, A. N. Zakatov conveyed to all those gathered the words of the Head of the Russian Imperial House, the Grand Duchess Maria of Russia, thanking everyone who had attended the service. In his own comments afterward, the Director of Her Imperial Highness’s Chancellery underscored the point that, during the many years of exile after the Revolution and now, the Russian Imperial House has always supported the idea of national reconciliation and has called upon its countrymen to renounce the spirit of revenge and revanchism.

The Grand Duchess Maria of Russia, building upon the ideas advanced previously by her father and grandfather, has reminded us all again and again of the words of the Holy Royal Passion-Bearer Emperor Nicholas II: “It is not evil that conquers, it is only Love.” She has called upon all her countrymen to search in the past not for that which divides us, but for that which brings us all together, regardless of our political views; to forgive and to ask for forgiveness, to see in our common repentance before God and our fellow man not weakness or humiliation, but a bright and purifying opportunity to move forward together as a nation and a people.

A. N. Zakatov especially mentioned the important symbolism of the presence at this service of the famous Georgian actor, director, and public figure David Buduyevich Giorgobiani, who played the main role (of the artist Sandro Barateli) in the film by T. E. Abuladze Repentance (Pokaianie), which has contributed significantly to our understanding of the tragic events of the twentieth century.

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