06/05/2021, 10.08
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Museum of Christian Culture opens in St. Petersburg

by Vladimir Rozanskij

A testament to the liturgical history of the Orthodox Church down through the centuries. Artefacts of St Nicholas on loan from Bari Cathedral. The visual language of the icon is enhanced. Other "cultural mission" initiatives have been launched along the Golden Ring of the ancient Russian capitals.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - Yesterday the "Museum of Christian Culture" was opened in the center of St. Petersburg, with the blessing of the Metropolitan of Pskov Tikhon (Shevkunov), head of the Department for Culture of the Moscow Patriarchate.

The new exhibition structure was organized under the patronage of the female monastery of Saints Constantine and Helen, a large community of Leningradskaja Oblast. The province of the northern capital has a house right next to the new museum.

The monastic seat of the city is famous for its golden domes, restored to their splendor after the gray Soviet years. It was built in memory of the 1888 episode, in which Tsar Alexander III and his family risked dying in a carriage of a collapsed train near Khar'kov; the tsar held the roof over his shoulders for a long time, saving his family while they prayed to the imperial saints, protectors of the family.

In the years of the religious rebirth of post-communism, an extraordinary collection of sacred objects, images and vessels began to form around the monastery which testify to the liturgical history of the Orthodox Church over the centuries.

The collection of the new museum was composed by choosing the most significant elements of this collection. Precious icons, liturgical vestments and furnishings, relics of pilgrimages are exhibited, there is also an entire section of objects belonging to the communities of old-believers, the schismatics of the seventeenth century.

The "Constantine Room", where a marble bust of the first Christian emperor stands, is dedicated to Christian art of the early centuries. There are also the rooms of the Old and New Testament, described by Russian icons and the illustrated story of the Gospel, from medieval manuscripts to modern books.

A special room is dedicated to the saint most loved by the Russians, St. Nicholas the Wonderworker of Myra; it has the title "Master of life and example of humility", from the text of the liturgical troparion dedicated to the saint who today in Bari brings together East and West. From the cathedral of Bari, the destination of many pilgrimages, several mementos of St. Nicholas were brought to St. Petersburg.

The icons, "Bible of the illiterate", are the masters in the new museum, describing the whole history of salvation starting from the creation of the world and of man. The visual language of the icon does not replace the meaning of the Holy Scriptures, rather the enhance it, "through symbolic images that illuminate the truths of Christian doctrine", as explained by Marina Krištal, director of the museum.

"The new museum - underlines Krištal - not only wishes to demonstrate the elements on display, all linked to Christianity, but above all the union of all the cultural communities to which this issue remains close".

The museum area will soon also become an education center, where lessons and seminars will be held, meetings with specialists in the field of the history of religions and art. A center for children will also be opened, where various circles of creative activities will take place.

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