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Orthodox churches in China - the best examples of Russian architecture

The historical significance of Orthodoxy in the culture of China, the interest of the Chinese people in religious dogmas of Orthodoxy is told by the director of the Agency for Investment and Development of the Khabarovsk Krai Vyacheslav Kushnaryov

For more than one century, Orthodoxy has been an integral part of the culture of China, along with its own identity, which has absorbed all the best from neighboring peoples.

Orthodox churches in China - the best examples of Russian architecture
The humanism of Orthodoxy has earned respect for its religious dogmas among the Chinese people and, as a result, the approval and recognition of this religion by the official authorities.

Today, there are over 15 Christians in China and 000 officially operating churches on the continental territory: Harbin, XUAR and Inner Mongolia. In addition, services are held in Shenzhen, Guangzhou, and in 4 there are 2013 parishes in Taiwan and one in Hong Kong and Macau. Divine services are also held on the territory of the Consulates General and the Embassy of the Russian Federation in the People's Republic of China. It was on the site where the Embassy is located today more than 2 years ago that the first Orthodox divine service in China took place.


The first Orthodox priest to open a temple in China was the priest of the Nikolskaya Church from Albazin, Priest Maxim Leontiev, son of the Tolstoukhs. Arriving in Beijing in 1683, he received permission to settle on its outskirts, where, in the former Chinese idol of the God of War, he opened a peaceful Orthodox chapel, in which he placed the icon of St. Nicholas of Myra, which he had brought with him. There, until 1695, he performed divine services, satisfying the spiritual needs of his flock - he baptized, married, served a funeral service and prayed for fellow believers who came to Beijing.

At the same time, as Metropolitan Ignatius, who then occupied the Tobolsk See, wrote about his activities: "Christ's Orthodox faiths opened the light to them (the Chinese)."

In the summer of 1695, Metropolitan Ignatius of Siberia and Tobolsk sent from Tobolsk to China with merchants the deacon of the cathedral church Lavrenty Ivanov and entrusted the archpastor to “the preacher of the Holy Gospel in the Chinese kingdom, the reverent priest Maxim Leontyev and all Orthodox Christians living in the Chinese kingdom”.

In 1696 Ivanov reached Beijing, where he delivered antimis, myrrh and oil “with all sorts of church needs” for the consecration of the church “in the name of s. Sophia of the wisdom of God. " In 1696, Father Maxim, together with the clergy who arrived from Russia, consecrated the church in the name of St. Sophia, but it was still traditionally called St. Nicholas in honor of the icon of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker. Learning about the priest's activities, the Tsar of All Russia Peter I ordered the opening of an Orthodox spiritual mission in Beijing, which was done in 1716.

During its existence until 1956, 20 missions were sent to Beijing with a total of 200 preachers. For many years the mission bore the functions of the Russian embassy, ​​the cultural representative of the Russian spiritual Orthodox culture. After 1956, the government of the USSR transferred all the churches of the PRC, and the territory of the mission was transferred to the state under the embassy, ​​which today is the largest diplomatic mission in the world. Chief's tombstone 1-th mission is still kept in one of the museums in Beijing. And on the territory of the Embassy, ​​not so long ago, the tradition of Orthodox services was revived.


Since foundation 1-th temple in Beijing before 40-x years 20-century 106 temples were built in China, in which 10 Chinese parishioners confessed.

The geography of the construction was extensive. Most were concentrated in northeast China and the XUAR. The main place of their concentration was the alienation strip along the Chinese Eastern Railway and in the places of residence of large diasporas: Hankou, Tianjin, Harbin, Beijing, Urumqi. Most were built in 1900-1902 years. Churches were built, as a rule, with donations. In Harbin, the whole world gathered for churches, and in a small but prosperous colony of Russian tea merchants in Hankou (now the city of Wuhan) entrepreneurs were thrown off. So, intending to build a temple in Hankow, the tea merchants in 1871 announced a subscription in Moscow and decided to assign a part of the collection from long tea to the temple. In 1876, they collected 42 rubles. In 059, a temple in honor of the holy Prince Alexander Nevsky in Hankou was erected.

In 1908, a church was built in Harbin in honor of the Iberian Icon of the Mother of God. The construction cost 69 rubles. 721 kopecks A lot was donated to I.Ya. Churin, TD Samsonovich, TD Kunst and Albers.

All the churches presented the best examples of Russian architecture to the Chinese. The big temple in Shanghai was built according to the drawings of the Moscow Cathedral of Christ the Savior.

Time destroyed many temples. Many of the rest fell into disrepair. Of the 20 Harbin, only 5 remained. 4-x Shanghai - 2.

Today the Moscow Patriarchate is doing everything possible to restore old churches in China. And he finds in this understanding and support of the Chinese authorities.

For example, the Wuhan authorities, who were planning to build a tunnel and demolish the oldest Russian church in China - the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral - did not do this, but together with the Russian side they restored it, spending 47 million yuan on restoration. Now the temple houses the House of Russian-Chinese cultural exchanges. Residents of the city of Harbin collected 000 million yuan and restored the St. Sophia Cathedral, which is now the hallmark of Harbin and a museum that tells about the history of Russian-Chinese relations. 000 yuan was allocated by the Chinese authorities for a cemetery church in the Harbin suburb of Sankeshu. The authorities of the village of Hendohetsi put in order a wooden church, which was once the center of life of the largest junction station of the CER. Today you can go to the village administration and they will be happy to see you, open and show you the interior of one of the oldest wooden churches. Now she, too, is the main attraction of the village.

The Patriarchate is doing everything to restore the remaining churches and fill the already restored ones with the sounds of church chants.


The soul of all churches, of course, was the icons that filled them. The faces of the saints attracted the eyes not only of the Russian parishioners themselves, but also of the Chinese. Singer Alexander Vertinsky often told this story.

At the railway station in the city of Harbin, there was a large icon of St. Nicholas in an icon case, and those who were leaving and arriving could pray to Nicholas the Wonderworker and light candles before leaving. All considered Saint Nicholas the patron saint of Harbin. Even the unbelieving Chinese came and bowed to this icon. His name was in the Chinese manner, but respectfully "Old Man of the Station." Once an elderly Chinese man ran into the station and thanked the icon for a long time. It turned out that he almost drowned in the Sungari River. This river was very dangerous with many whirlpools. And when he began to be pulled into one of them, the Chinese, remembering that the Russians had turned to Nicholas the Wonderworker, exclaimed: "Old man of the station, help!" And the miracle happened, the Chinese was rescued from a passing raft.

The icon was so popular that when the Soviet government established control over the Chinese Eastern Railway and decided to destroy the icon case, the local Chinese did not allow it to be done. However, in 1966, the icon burned down in the crucible of the Cultural Revolution.

But icons, like manuscripts, do not burn. Today students of the institute in Vladivostok have restored a beautiful image of the icon case at the Harbin railway station from old photographs.

The fact of the new acquisition of the Port Arthur Icon of the Mother of God "Triumph of the Most Holy Theotokos", which is a symbol of the struggle of Russian soldiers with the Japanese, is also interesting.

“A mysterious and miraculous in its origin icon, known as the 'Triumph of the Most Holy Theotokos', was intended for the Port Arthur fortress,” wrote the Vladivostok newspapers in 1904. - Due to the termination of communications with the latter, this horse from the Highest permission of the Empress Maria Feodorovna, requested by Admiral N.I. Skrydlov, on August 2, 1904, was temporarily placed in the Vladivostok Cathedral.

We have repeatedly witnessed how people belonging to the upper class of society prayed in front of this icon, bowing their knees, with deep faith, with tears in their eyes, we witnessed how naval and land ranks, starting with a simple soldier and a sailor and ending with an admiral or a general, prostrated themselves before this icon and in earnest prayer sought consolation, encouragement and help from the Most Holy Theotokos. " Later, the icon was nevertheless delivered to China and was kept in the marching church of the commander-in-chief of the Russian army.

The icon was lost in the crucible of war. And now, already in our time, pilgrims, the rector of the Holy Intercession Monastery in the city of Ussuriysk, and the rector of the Holy Dormition Church in Vladivostok, in one of the shops in Jerusalem, saw this icon. Having no funds for her ransom, the monks turned for help to the abbess of the Gornensky convent, Abbess Georgy. On the first Sunday of Great Lent, the day of the celebration of the Triumph of Orthodoxy, the icon was redeemed by her. In the spring of 1998, the icon returned to Vladivostok, where it was greeted with "the people of the city of Vladivostok singing praise and thanksgiving." Now and forever the icon is in the St. Nicholas Cathedral in Vladivostok, built in 1907 in memory of the soldiers who died during the Russian-Japanese war in China.


Today, Orthodoxy is one of the main uniting forces of Russians, both on the territory of great Russia and beyond. It has always been that way.

After the Revolution, 250 people left Russia for China, 000 of whom settled in Harbin. Finding themselves in a foreign land, from different places, these people also turned to God and sometimes donated the last for the construction of new churches, for the old ones were no longer enough to accept the prayers of all those in need. Orthodoxy united these people, and churches were the place where they prayed together for the salvation of their fatherland. Temples were also a place where during battles they sheltered the wounded, and in times of harshness they gave shelter, food and hope to the poor.

So in 1933, at the Iberian Church of Harbin, the Seraphim folk canteen was opened for poor emigrants, where free dinners, ceremonial gatherings, lotteries, concerts, performances were arranged. A parish for the elderly, sick, and also children was organized here. Children at the orphanage were trained in housekeeping. About 100 pupils of this institution were brought up in the Russian national spirit. The Russian women who worked here formed their love for the Motherland, nature, for everything Russian. From 1933 to 1942, 856 cheap and free lunches were provided to the public canteen of this church for low-income emigrants.

К 60-years Russian emigration in China disappeared. Many returned to their homeland, many dispersed throughout the world and continued to sow the ideas of Orthodox humanism in the places where fate had thrown them.

Today, about 30 Russians live in China on a permanent basis. These are representatives of Russian companies, government agencies, private traders. One third are students. In addition, a large number of Russians arrive daily with short-term visits and tourists. The latter average 000 people a year.

Today, it is Orthodoxy, churches have become here a unifying factor for these people, preventing them from getting lost in a huge mass of people. This is a clear continuation of the traditions of Orthodoxy, which we spoke about above.

For a long time, the Russian diaspora was deprived of the opportunity to send their religious ordinances. But to the beginning 2000-x By joint efforts of the Moscow Patriarchate, the Government of the Russian Federation, the Administrations of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation, the local Russian community, churches began to be restored, and divine services were held. A special role in this was played by the tireless activity of the chairman of the Synoidal Department of External Relations of the Church, and now the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill.

In 2009, the first worship service in half a century was held in Macau. “We are renewing this tradition with the hope that it will be important for many,” the appeal said. Today, the Russian diasporas already have a legal opportunity to gather and listen to services for the holidays of Christmas and Easter. In the Church of the Murdered Emperor in Shanghai, for example, all Orthodox Shanghai gathered for the last Easter.

Russians come to services in Harbin. The schedule of services and services is transmitted by word of mouth, word of mouth, via the Internet. Many today are already getting baptized far from their homeland. What are such questions already worth! “Good day. My wife and I want to baptize a child in Hong Kong? Please tell us what is needed for this. "

Regular services are held at the Russian Embassy in Beijing and at its consulates, where many people also come. Services are already held on a regular basis according to timetables. In addition to holidays and ceremonies, people gather for church events, for example, it was to bring particles of the holy relics of St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco to China to be handed over to the parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church in Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai.
The life of the Orthodox community in China is flourishing today. And everything is being done to fully normalize it in the future. It is done both by the church itself and by the secular authorities. For example, a lot of attention is paid by the Government of the Khabarovsk Territory, because it is through Khabarovsk that traditionally Orthodox priests go to China, it is here that a joint conference on the development of Orthodoxy in China is planned to be held in 2016, which unites our compatriots on the basis of their moral and ethical values.

One cannot fail to note the initiatives of the Russians themselves living in China. Their contribution to the revival of Orthodoxy in China is invaluable. The activities of the Russian Clubs in Shanghai and Harbin provide special assistance to the good cause. The latter, for example, constantly carry out subbotniks to clean up old dilapidated churches, planted flowers near the Holy Iberian officers' church in Harbin.

The Russian diaspora does not stop there and continues to make a huge contribution to the revival of Orthodoxy.

For example, here is the appeal dated January 5, 2016 about the restoration of the faces of Orthodox saints: “Dear friends! Brothers and sisters in Christ.

The Orthodox community of the Intercession Church in the city of Harbin appeals to you with a request to support financially a good deed to restore two mosaics - icons on the monument from the times of the Russian-Japanese war. For a long time, fighting in these places near the city of Mukden (today - Shenyang) has died down. About 500 Russian soldiers are buried here in a mass grave. They died in a battle that brought victory to Russian weapons! In a night bayonet attack on October 4, 1904, Russian troops under the personal leadership of General P.N. Putilov captured 14 enemy artillery pieces. Thanks in advance". The icons do not burn!

And I want to finish the review with the words of gratitude from one of the Russian residents of Harbin: “God grant you, Father, strength, patience, humility, success in this field. Indeed, even a few years ago it was not possible to even think about it. As they say, I can do everything in Christ who strengthens me. "
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