Sunday, January 21, 2007

Let's celebrate the good news from Kiev

Why are we so fixated on bad news from the former Soviet Union? When we are not replaying yesterday's revelations about Shostakovich, Stalin's purges and communist black-lists we are broadcasting today's news about gas prices and murder by plutonium. It is all rather sad, and baffling, because there is so much to celebrate in this vibrant region. So today, let's counterbalance the awful religous persecution, that lasted from the revolution of 1917 to the millenium of the Russian Church in 1988, with the good news of a new cathedral that is nearing completion in Kiev in Ukraine, and then follow that story with a download of music from one of the region's monasteries.

The new patriarchal Cathedral of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ in Kiev, which can be seen in my photo above, is a five-domed church 49 meters wide, 56 meters long and 61 meters high. It combines traditional design with contemporary features. Four of the gilded domes, representing the four evangelists, surround a larger, central dome, representing the figure of Christ. There is capacity for some 1,500 faithful to worship. When the new cathedral is completed the spiritual centre of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church will move from St. George’s Cathedral in Lviv to the capital of Ukraine, where currently the Greek Catholics only have two small churches.

The Cathedral of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is sited on a channel of the Dnipro River, and there is a special alleyway to allow for processions to the banks of the Rusanivka Channel for Epiphany celebrations. Noted Ukrainian architect Mykola Levchuk designed the structure, which took the top prize for contemporary building designs for religious structures at a recent architectural design contest in Moscow.Mykola Levchuk, 62, from Kiev, is the director of the renown local architectural practice Kyivproyekt.

Now playing - Orthodox Church Music from Ukraine sung by the monks of The Holy Trinity, St Jonah Monastery, Kiev. This monastery was founded in 1862, but was suppressed in 1934. Following the collapse of communism the monastery once again became a religous foundation centred on the monastic church, which dates from 1871. Services are also held in the Zverinetskoe cave complex nearby which has been a place of worship since the 13th century. This excellent CD of hymns from the All-Night Vigil is from a catalogue of more than 100 recordings of Orthodox music on the Ikon label which is linked to the Diocese of Sourozh in London, part of the Patriarchate of Moscow. If you like Rachmaninov's take on the Orthodox Vespers you are going to like the real thing - listen to this 1' 12" MP3 file of Antiphons of Ascent (Tone 4) from Matins -

* The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, which is building the patriarchial cathedral in Kiev, is the largest of the Eastern Catholic Churches, and is a Church of the Byzantine rite which recognises Papal supremacy. The Holy Trinity - St Jonah Monastery is part of the Russian Orthodox Church which recognises the Patriarch of Moscow as its head.

* It is extraordinary that the Eastern Orthodox Church (of which the Russian Church is part) is not better known in English speaking countries. It has 240 million members around the world, making it the second largest Christian congregation after the Catholics. The Orthodox Church is the original Christian Church founded by the followers of Jesus, from which the Catholics and Anglicans split. St Stephen's Press, the publishing house of the Russian Orthodox Patriarchal Diocese of Sourozh, has an excellent slim introduction to the church. The title is The Orthodox Church, the author is Sergei Hackel (that link is to a biography well worth reading), the ISBN is 0951903721, the cover is shown here, and it is available from Amazon. Readers interested in liturgical music and the visual arts are urged to explore the riches of the Orthodox faith.

* Recommended web resources include Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church - Religous information service of Ukraine - History of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Orthodox links - Encyclopedia of Ukraine. IOCC is the official humanitarian aid agency of Orthodox Christians worldwide. It was founded in the US in 1992, and has field offices in Russia, Georgia, Greece, Yugoslavia, Bosnia Herzogovina, Romania and Jerusalem.

For more inspirational new cathedrals and monasteries with musical connections take An Overgrown Path to Evry Cathedral, and La Tourette in France, and Prinknash Abbey in England.
With many thanks to the French langauage newsletter of my spiritual home in France, the Benedictine L'Abbaye Sainte-Madeleine du Barroux, for the heads-up on this story. Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Report broken links, missing images and other errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk

1 comment:

BJ said...

Hi! I thought you and your readers might be interested in some post-Easter news about Pope Benedict XVI...
The Pope's car is being auctioned off to raise money for Habitat for Humanity:
www.buyacarvideos.com/popecar.htm
The bidding is already more than $200,000! Personally, I think this is a really fun and creative way to raise
money. The auction goes until April 14th if you and your readers want to check it out.