01/09/2010, 00.00
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New Orthodox Church in the tourist paradise of Pattaya

It will serve for the 15 thousand Russians who buy property in Thailand and the river of 300-500 thousand Russian language tourists per year. Construction of a new parish in Phuket also planned.

Bangkok (AsiaNews) - The Russian Orthodox Church in Thailand has its second parish. It was consecrated in late December by Archbishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk, head of external relations of the Patriarchate of Moscow. Funded by the donations of the faithful, the Church of All Saints was born - no coincidence - in Pattaya, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world with a constantly increasing stream of visitors. Among these Russians are in the majority, of which the wealthy are buying real estate in the most exclusive resorts in the country.  

"The new parish will be a point of reference for the Russian Orthodox in Thailand and will bring spiritual support to hundreds of thousands of people": Hilarion explained during the liturgical function of 20 December, celebrated with Archimandrite Oleg, the first Orthodox priest to arrive in Thailand.  

The consecration of the Church of All Saints' Day falls on the tenth anniversary of the Russian Orthodox community in the Asian country: in 1999 when the then abbot Oleg arrived in Bangkok to lead the parish of St. Nicholas. "This anniversary is an event of great significance for the life of the Church. Today the Orthodox community in Thailand is active and mature,” said Hilarion during his visit.

  An increasing number of Russians are choosing the beaches of Thailand as a tourist destination: in Pattaya alone 15 thousand own property or rent apartments, while the 5 thousand are permanent residents. Throughout the year the flow of Russian language tourists varies between 300 thousand and 500 thousand.  

And given the trend in growth, the construction of a third Orthodox Church is planned in Phuket, another tourist paradise.  

In Thailand, 95% of the 62 million inhabitants are Buddhist, 4% Muslim and 1% Christians of various denominations. Catholics are about 300 thousand.

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