25 May 2009, 13:36
Russian Orthodox temple blessed in Rome
Rome, May 25, Interfax - Metropolitan Valentin of Orenburg and Buzuluk consecrated the first-ever Russian Orthodox temple in Rome on May 24, the Day of St. Cyril and Methodius, with the blessing of Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Kirill.
The Russian president's spouse Svetlana Medvedeva, Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov, head of the Presidential Property Management Department Vladimir Kozhin, Russian Ambassador to Italy Alexey Meshkov, State Duma deputy Konstantin Kosachyov, Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Yakovenko, Deputy Culture Minister Pavel Khoroshilov and others also attended the ceremony.
Representatives of the Roman Catholic Church, including President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity Walter Cardinal Kasper, were present as well.
The Church of Great Martyr St. Catherine was built on a hill, close to the Russian embassy residence. The idea of building an Orthodox church in the cradle city of Catholicism was expressed for the first time by Rector of the Russian Embassy Church Archimandrite Kliment (Vernikovsky) in the end of the 19th century.
In fall 1913 Emperor Nicholas II permitted donations to be raised throughout Russia for the construction of such a church, but the Revolution 1917 thwarted the project.
The idea to build the church was put forward again in the early 1990s. The first stone of the church was laid down in January 2001 with the blessing of then Patriarch Alexy II and the construction began in April 2005. In May 2006 Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad (the present Patriarch) gave his first blessing to the church. The lower side-alter of the church was blessed in December 2006.
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