04/18/2018, 13.52
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A prayer for national reconciliation on board Revolution ship

by Vladimir Rozanskij

A mass was celebrated on the Aurora, the cruiser linked to the first fundamental moments of the Bolshevik revolution. "Orthodox faith can reconcile people who have different ideas, and who belong to different social groups".

Moscow (AsiaNews) - On 15 April a Divine Liturgy was celebrated on the cruiser "Aurora", in the chapel of the ship dedicated to St. Nicholas, 100 years after the October revolution. The Mass was presided by a parish priest of St. Petersburg, the Protopriest Aleksandr Tkachenko, in front of the cadets of the Naval Military School, the crew members and the officers of the historic warship.

The Aurora is a first class cruiser of the Russian Baltic fleet which was at the center of the uprising in the Russian capital, which in 1917 was called Petrograd ("Russified" name of St. Petersburg, because of enmity with the Germans during the First world War). The ship was anchored at the city port, at the mouth of the river Neva, for necessary repairs after a series of glorious battles in previous years. The crew forced to wait, impatient to resume the war, became one of the main groups of agitators in the February upheavals, when the popular protest due to the difficulties caused by the ruinous Russian participation in the war ended with the overthrow of the regime and the same Tsar Nicholas II, who renounced the throne and was later killed by the Bolsheviks in Yekaterinburg together with all the members of the family, in July 1918.

The revolution began on March 8, 1917 (February 25, according to the old calendar), with a factory strike near the port and the protest of women asking for bread. It was the event, then remembered with the Women's Day on March 8th, which unleashed all the other tumultuous events. The garrison guarding the Winter Palace was mostly made up of inexperienced youngsters, due to the mobilization of all the best forces at the front. The commander of the Aurora put the most exaggerated among his sailors under arrest, and thought to use the ship as a floating prison for the rebels. There were shootings, followed by the occupation of the ship by the workers' committees who came to the rescue of the crew:  the episode marked the capitulation of the guards of the capital, also because of the refusal of officers of the cruiser to use weapons on the crowd .

In the following months, under the provisional governments of L'vov and Kerensky, the ship remained guarding events near the palaces of power, led by a revolutionary committee. In September a Bolshevik machinist, A. Belishev, was elected president and moved the ship to the Winter Palace on the night of November 7 (October 25), the date of the revolution, marked by the firing of the Aurora's cannon. The threat of bombing the Palace caused Kerensky to surrender. Since then the cruiser has remained in the canal near the historical sites of the Bolshevik taking of power, as a museum of the revolution and home of the Naval Academy.

The celebrant of the liturgy Fr. Tkachenko stressed that "today those who work on this ship are animated by a profound Christian faith". The ship's chapel, restored in 2016, will not be a parish, but functions will be regularly celebrated for the crew members, officers and students of the Nakhimovskij Naval Institute. "This is a prayer of national reconciliation," said the priest, recalling all the protagonists of the events of a hundred years ago, "both those who were on the side of the reds, and whites, who saw the future of the country in continuation with the past regime and those who wanted to change everything. Orthodox faith can reconcile people who have different ideas, and who belong to different social groups ".

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