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Thursday, January 19, 2012

COMPETITION LAUNCHED TO DECORATE MOSCOW CHURCHES


Competition launched to decorate Moscow churches
Programme aims to build 200 churches across the Russian capital

By Sophia Kishkovsky. Web only
Published online: 15 December 2011

The Russian Orthodox Church has launched a competition for the decoration of 200 modular churches that are being speedily built with state support in the Russian capital. Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church has said that the churches are desperately needed in crowded districts of unsightly Soviet high rises.

After laying the cornerstone of the first church in the 200 churches programme in April, the patriarch said that [the new churches] account for “about one-fifth of what was destroyed in the Soviet era”, and that some districts have just one church for up to 200,000 residents.

Some residents of Moscow’s “sleeping districts”—largely residential areas—have petitioned for new churches. Others have protested, saying the sites allocated by the city are in much needed parks or squares. One church is being constructed on the site of the 2002 hostage taking of nearly 800 people by Chechen rebels at a Moscow theatre during a performance of “Nord-Ost”.

The competition for the decoration of the 200 churches was announced in November at “Pravoslavnaya Rus,” or “Orthodox Rus,” an annual fair and conference held in the Manezh exhibition hall at the foot of the Kremlin's walls, devoted this year to the rebuilding of the Russian Orthodox Church. “These churches must become not only a decoration of our city, but truly a phenomenon of civic and church art of our 21st century,” said Archimandrite Tikhon Shevkunov, the executive secretary of the Patriarchal Council for Culture, at a news conference. “They must become a kind of pearl of ancient tradition, uniting historic Moscow with its new districts and buildings.” He said the terms of the competition would be announced by the end of the year.

Since the collapse of communism, a new generation of iconographers and artists specialising in religious art has appeared. New examples of church architecture have also been created, such as a wooden chapel, an homage to 16th- and 17th-century tented roof churches, at Butovsky polygon, a killing field on the edge of Moscow where at least 20,000 people were shot and buried from August 1937 through October 1938.


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