22 June 2006, 15:11
Moscow, June 22, Interfax - The World Russian People’s Council, a well-known
public organization, has expressed indignation over the raid made recently
upon the Orthodox church of St. Nicholas at Migdal ha’Emeq in Israel. Some
unknown vandals abused the holy icons and desecrated the grave of the founder
and first rector of the church.
World Russian People’s Council outraged at raid upon Orthodox church
‘The World Russian People’s Council stands invariably for the immunity of
places of worship - churches, synagogues, mosques. Acts of vandalism committed
against them resound with pain in the hearts of millions of people’, reads
the Council’s statement the text of which has been communicated to Interfax
The document expresses regret that attacks are made on Orthodox churches,
chapels and monasteries in Israel today and clergy are sometimes subjected
to beatings and insults - the fact ‘that cannot but disturbs us’.
‘Xenophobia is very dangerous for the multi-ethnic and poly-confessional
Israeli people who are responsible for maintaining peace in the Holy Land,
just as for any multi-confessional society’, the statement stresses.
Its authors are convinced that the recent raid upon the Orthodox church should
be given ‘the most resolute rebuff by the authorities of the State of Israel
and the international community’.
The World Russian People’s Council urges to find the culprits as soon as
possible and to take all the necessary measure to prevent such crimes.
It hopes ‘that through joint efforts we will attain a peaceful and safe life
in the Holy Land, and is convinced that ‘it is only peace and mutual acceptance
that can help preserve the unique climate of good-neighborliness without
which a stable future in this land cherished by us all is impossible’.
New Jerusalems for Moscow and the World
By Antonina Frolenkova The Moscow News
Moscow hosts an International Symposium dedicated to the translation
of sacred spaces in Christian culture
The international conference, New Jerusalems, the Translation of Sacred Spaces
in Christian Culture, was recently held at the Tretyakov Gallery. It was
organized by the Moscow-based Research Center for Eastern Christian Culture
and timed for the 350th anniversary of New Jerusalem monastery, founded in
the Moscow region by Patriarch Nikon.
The New Jerusalem project near Moscow was the largest re-creation of the
Holy Land not only in Russia, but in the world. Written documents say that
Nikon called this place on the Istra River "prepared" for the New Jerusalem
complex, with Istra symbolizing the Jordan river, and the mountain in the
center of the area symbolizing Zion. Nikon's Jerusalem is unique for the
precise reproduction of its "prototype". The monastery's main church was
designed according to the ground plan of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem,
and the whole complex had additional chapels commemorating the topography
of the Holy Land.
The translation of this sacred place in Christian tradition refers to the
concept of New Jerusalem on earth and Jerusalem in heaven, a divine place,
where one can find happiness, harmony and triumph of justice. Russia's New
Jerusalem became both a grandiose "spatial icon" and a part of Nikon's project
for the "sacralization" of Russia. It was also an ideological project brought
to life by the necessity to establish Russia's place in Christian Orthodox
The idea of 'translating' the Holy Land - the creation of New Jerusalems
- was reflected not merely in special landscapes and related monumental programs,
but in all Christian churches and their iconographical devices.
"Although our symposium is linked with the Moscow region New Jerusalem, it
is not limited to the research of this phenomenon only in Russian culture.
We are talking about the tradition of sacred spaces creation and translation
internationally. Leading scholars on medieval art, cultural history and anthropology
from world-known American and European Universities came to our symposium
to present their papers. Our approaches are based on the recent concept of
hierotopy according to which creation of sacred spaces should be examined
as a special type of creativity and as a subject of historical studies,"
says head of Research Center for Eastern Christian Culture Alexei Lidov -
the author of the hierotopy concept.
According to this concept, visual architectural forms and various images,
as well as changing lightenings and fragrance, ritual gestures and prayers,
in each case create a unique spatial complex. These environments should be
considered as important historical documents. The studies of Eastern Christian
sacred spaces, relics and miracle-working icons as cultural phenomena are
among the priorities of the conference participants.
Richard Marks, professor at the University of York, United Kingdom:
My paper is concerned with what can be called an 'architectural icon,' the
use of architectural representation as symbol and metaphor. Nowhere can this
subject be explored as thoroughly, as in the numerous icons, depicting the
famous Solovetsky Monastery on the White Sea. The distance, remoteness and
climatic severity of Solovetsky replicated for pilgrims the hardships of
the journey to the real Holy Land. With the dedications of churches to the
Mother of God and Transfiguration on Mount Tabor, the monastic complex offered
simulacrum of the sacred sites of Israel. The experiences of those, who made
the journey to Solovetsky, and those who were limited to viewing its icons
in their local church or domestic space, were framed by architectural topography
of the site itself, or of its representations. Albeit far less explicitly
than Patriarch Nikon's The New Jerusalem Monastery on Istra, Solovetsky itself
and the holy icons have evoked this metaphorical journey to the heavenly
city, made concrete and manifest on the soil of Holy Russia. The pilgrims
approaching the Annunciation Gate from the foreshore replicated the blessed,
permitted to enter through the gates into the heavenly city.
Danica Popovic, the Serbian Academy of Science, Belgrade:
In Christian thought and practice, desert figures as the space for askesis,
isolated from the world and full of temptations. But it is also a sacred
space, the scene of divine revelation, a mythologized space for the action
of important biblical figures, including Christ himself. If desert is a locus
of contact between the earthly and the heavenly, the same category should
include locales such as mountain and cave. Three mystical caves, the sites
of the Christ's birth, burial and first theophany bore the epithets of "saving
cave" or "most holy cave." These holy places were served as the earthly reflections
of the Heavenly Jerusalem. Translation of Jerusalem, seen as a possibility
for the symbolical transfer of sacredness and its renovation on other sites,
is connected with the spiritualization of the idea of the Holy Land; if true
Jerusalem is transcendent in an immanent reality, it may be "actualized"
virtually anywhere. Such a view had far-reaching consequences leading to
the creation of new sacred areas and re-identification of some peoples as