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Οκτώβριος 9, 2010 / dosambr

Three rare books about the Russian Orthodox Church in China found

Three rare books about the Russian Orthodox Church in China found by Nina Achmatova The three tomes, which are waiting for a translator, are about the birth and development of three churches in Beijing, Tianjin and Harbin. The Chinese government does not recognise the Russian Orthodox Church. Its 13,000 members meet occasionally for religious functions, and usually inside the Russian Embassy and consulates. Moscow (AsiaNews) – The Russian Orthodox Church in China is trying to rediscover its origins. Some believers have been able to borrow some old books on Orthodox Christianity in the Middle Kingdom that date back to the first half of 20th century. They describe the foundation and development of three churches in Beijing, Tianjin and Harbin. Scanned one page at a time, the rare copies are available on the internet. Originally published in Russian, they are waiting for a translation. All three tomes are rare specimen with facts, figures and pictures of some of the earliest churches of the Orthodox Mission to China. The first book, by a nameless author, is dedicated to the Church of the “Protective Mantle of the Mother of God”, built in Tianjin in 1931. Archimandrite Viktor was the first priest put in charge of the church, which included an Orthodox cemetery, a library, an Orthodox ecclesiastic confraternity, the first high school ran by religious in the country, a Russian hospital and the Mercy House of the Blessed Serafim Sarkovsky. Many Chinese but also foreigners from places like Great Britain, France and Italy received physical and spiritual assistance from the last two structures. The author of the second book has instead a name, Konstantin Komarov, a theology student. Titled History of the Church of the Annunciation of Harbin, the 200-page tome was published in 1942 and is all about what the author calls the oldest Orthodox church in the city. Originally built in 1903 in wood, the church was rebuilt in stone in 1907. At one point, it ran a school for Russian children and served as a hospital during the Russian-Japanese of 1904-1905. It burnt to the ground in 1918 but was rebuilt. Brought back to the attention of the Russian Orthodox community by some of its members, the third book, titled Beijing: Russia’s spiritual mission in China, was published in 1939 in Tianjin. From there, a copy found its way into the Harvard University Library. The book itself covers the history of the Russian Orthodox Mission to China that was launched in 1896 in Beijing. The Mission itself was headquartered in the Church of the Annunciation, which had a Russo-Chinese school with gym in which Chinese children studied in Russian. The history of the Russian Orthodox Church in China goes back more than 300 years ago. The first communities were formed by Russian immigrants, especially in the north. Even today, most of its 13,000 members are of Russian descent, concentrated in four main centres: Harbin (Heilongjiang) where the parish church is dedicated to the Protective Mantle of the Mother of God, Labdarin (Inner Mongolia) and Kulj and Urumqi (Xinjiang). At present, there is no clergy because Orthodox bishops and priests disappeared, swallowed up by the Cultural Revolution. With no priest, some of the faithful meet on Sundays on and off to pray. There are however 13 Orthodox Chinese studying at the Sretenskaya Theological Academy in Moscow and the Academy in Saint Petersburg. At the same time, Russian priests celebrate liturgical functions during high holidays (Christmas and Easter) inside the Russian Embassy and consulates


One Comment

  1. Mitrophan Chin / Οκτ. 10 2010 12:20 μμ

    the source of this article is

    Also, for the links to the three rare books see and we’re actually are looking for anyone who’s interested in brushing up the OCR’ed Russian text, if you have any Russian contacts.


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