20 January 2010, 15:43
Court in France recognizes Russia as sole owner of church in Nice
Paris, January 20, Interfax - A court in Nice has recognized Russia as the sole legitimate owner of the Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas the Miracle Worker in Nice.
The ruling was announced on Wednesday and it immediately took effect, a spokesman for the Paris Orthodox community told an Interfax-Religion correspondent.
Litigation over who owns the Russian Orthodox Church in Nice began four years ago.
The Church is connected with events in the life of the Russian royal family. Crown Prince Nikolay Alexandrovich (the Emperor Alexander II's son) died of a spinal marrow disease in Nice in 1865. A chapel was built where he had died and it was sanctified in 1868 as the Church of St. Nicholas the Miracle Worker.
But even earlier, in 1859, the first Russian church, also sanctified as the church of St. Nicholas in memory of Emperor Nicholas II, was built in Nice - a resort in France especially popular with Russians. Over 2,000 Russians lived in Nice in the winter of 1881-1882.
In 1896, the widowed Empress Maria Fyodorovna, who was engaged to Crown Prince Nicholas, supported a plan to build a new Russian church in Nice, proposed by her confessor, Father Sergy Lyubimov. The first stone was laid on April 12, 1903, on the day of Crown Prince Nicholas's death.
The Church emerged on land that belonged to the Russian royal family. In 1908, when the construction was suspended due to a lack of funds, the sum needed was donated by Tsar Nicholas II.
The church was sanctified in winter 1912 on St. Nicholas Day.
In the early 19th century the ministry of the Russian royal court leased the church out to the local parish for 99 years. In the 1920s the parish was joined to the Constantinople Patriarchate. The rent expired in early 2008.