14 July 2011, 13:42
Parishioners of Russian cathedral in Nice ask to abolish admission fee to the church
*** They anticipate new collapse in the cathedral
Moscow, July 14, Interfax - Parishioners of St.Nicholas Cathedral in Nice say they disagree with the existing practice of admission fee to the church.
"The vast majority of visitors are Russian believers who don't regard this church as a museum, but they come to pray. They are outraged with the practice when they have to pay for coming to God's church," parishioners told Interfax-Religion.
Adults have to pay three euros, students and groups of more than 10 people - two euros, children under 12 and disabled people can enter free of charge. Daily income of former church owners (community of the Constantinople Patriarchate still administers the cathedral - IF) is, according to parishioners' information, about 2 thousand euro.
Interviewees of the agency also pointed out to another aspect of the problem: when Europeans visit the church and pay for entrance they consider their visit as cultural event, they are dressed in shorts and T-shirts, they lack "awing of a person who comes to a holy place."
Besides, parishioners are concerned with the state of the cathedral.
As was reported late in June, a big piece of plaster fell down from cathedral nave. Miraculously, nobody was injured. The church was closed for visitors, but later it was opened again. Consequences of the collapse were eliminated and high-scalers cleaned up other dangerous places of the church.
"However, nobody knows where the next collapse will take place as the building is really very shabby and it will meet its hundredth anniversary in 2012 in such a poor for a royal cathedral condition," parishioners say.
Fungus destroys fresco with the Icon of the Mother of God of the Sign above the altar and flower ornaments on the cathedral walls.
Parishioners urged to appoint Russia's responsible representative who will have keys of the cathedral and watch everything that is going on there.
Chief of the Kremlin's Property Management Department Vladimir Kozhin recently visited Nice, his press secretary Viktor Khrekov told Interfax-Religion.
"The visit's aim was to clear out what steps to take to transfer the cathedral to Russia's ownership. There was a meeting with Nice mayor where they discussed questions of maintaining and reconstruction of the object," he said.
This May, appellation court of Aix-en-Provence (France) decided that Russia is the owner of St.Nicholas Cathedral. Commenting the decision, Khrekov then told the agency that "work on returning Russian property will go on," and in case the final decision is taken and all formalities are settled the Property Management Department "will take the cathedral on its balance and take corresponding decisions taking into account interests of the believers."
Commenting on the unwillingness of current community to transfer the church to Russia, Khrekov said that they "earn money" using the cathedral.
"People sell tickets and, on various estimations, earn up to million euro a year," he said explaining that divine services are conducted in the church, but at the same time it is used as an "object of tourist business."