Tatarstan Archdiocese determines 300 churches for restoration

Tatarstan Archdiocese determines 300 churches for restoration Photo: Church of the Nativity of the blessed virgin, Maslovka village, Alekseyevsky district of the Republic of Tatarstan

At the latest Holy Synod on May 30, Metropolitan of Pskov and Porokhov Tikhon (Shevkunov) presented the register of dilapidated and ruined churches in Russia. This list includes the churches of the Kazan Diocese. About how to tie the cottage village to the temple, how one should not restore churches and why people from the city are returning to the village — in the material of Realnoe Vremya.

More than one hundred and twenty

Metropolitan Tikhon, the author of the bestselling book The Unholy Saints, reprinted for many years, has already exceeded two million copies, in the past — the governor of the monastery in Sretenka in the centre of Moscow, and now — Metropolitan of Pskov and Porokhov, Chairman of the Patriarchal Council for Culture, presented to the Holy Synod the data on 197 dioceses in the territory of the Russian Federation.

He was instructed to deal with the dying churches last November, the data were collected from all dioceses. For example, in the Kazan Diocese, there are more than 120 such churches. In Chistopol Diocese and Almetyevsk Diocese — about the same. That is, on the territory of the Tatarstan Archdiocese, there are about three hundred churches either dilapidated or ruined.

The Holy Synod, having listened to the report of Metropolitan Tikhon, decided that the administration of the Patriarchate would hold a meeting with the heads of archdioceses, in whose territories there is a large number of perishing churches, which are monuments of architecture. See managers will draw up an action plan and present it to the Holy Synod.

The fact that Metropolitan Tikhon is likely to oversee the issue is encouraging. He pays great attention to the history of the country and was one of the ideologists and initiators of the creation of the historical park “Russia — My History”. When he was Governor of the Sretensky monastery, his parishioners as volunteers constantly travelled to Arkhangelsk Oblast, where they helped local residents in the restoration of churches.

Metropolitan Tikhon presented the data on 197 dioceses in the territory of the Russian Federation to the Holy Synod. Photo: Oleg Tikhonov

“We can offer the diocesan bishops to organize people and go to such abandoned churches. Let's make a list of objects that can be preserved by volunteers in order to avoid their further decay,” Metropolitan Tikhon said in a speech.

The list has been made, obviously, it is necessary to wait for concrete offers from managing sees. By the way, abandoned churches have been saved by volunteers of the Tatarstan Archdiocese for a long time. This was discussed at a meeting in the lecture hall of Church of the Descent of the Holy Spirit in Kazan last Sunday, which brought together architects working with churches in need of restoration, historians and volunteers. The meeting was held in the framework of the festival “Whit Monday in Sukonnaya Sloboda”.

After the godlessness epoch

According to architect Inessa Fakhrutdinova, it has been possible to say that the churches are being restored, taken into account, only in the last thirty years. Seventy years before that they had been destroyed. The Kazan Archdiocese lost almost half of the existing at the beginning of the last century churches.

But the dynamics are still positive. If in 1988, there were only 15 parishes on the territory of the Kazan Diocese (the archdiocese appeared later), three of them in Kazan, now there are 345. The vast majority of them are architectural monuments of federal or regional importance.

If the city is more or less wealthy, then in rural areas there are many churches need if not restoration then at least conservation. “In one rural church, we once saw a man dismantling the brickwork and putting the bricks in a car, explaining that he needed them for construction, such cases happen,” said Fakhrutdinova.

According to architect Inessa Fakhrutdinova, it has been possible to say that the churches are being restored, taken into account, only in the last thirty years. Seventy years before that they had been destroyed. Photo: youtube.com

But the republic does not have such means to restore everything quickly and efficiently, so we have to rely only on the church itself, on the parishioners, priests and volunteers. Metropolitan Feofan of Kazan and Tatarstan has repeatedly expressed concern about the churches that need restoration and strongly encourages the initiative of parishioners and volunteers who take the trouble to start work in an abandoned church or chapel. “When I pass by such a once beautiful and now neglected church, my soul hurts,” the archbishop says.

The vast majority of churches restored in the archdiocese received a second life on the initiative of the clergy and parishioners. The most convincing example is the revival of the Raifa monastery, which its governor Archimandrite Vsevolod restored and built on the money of sponsors and parishioners alone.

“The population should be informed”

Given the importance, the post of the diocesan architect was restored in the Kazan Diocese, the same was here until 1917. Stepan Novikov has become the new diocesan architect, who, by the way, restored the Church of the Descent of the Holy Spirit. According to Novikov, one of the problems of the current parishioners — poor awareness, people often do not know that a particular building used to be a church.

“Many Kazan citizens, for example, did not know that the puppet theatre is located in the premises of the Church of the Descent of the Holy Spirit, and the population should be informed,” Novikov said. This case, unfortunately, is not an isolated one. The architect proposed to install information signs on such buildings if they are not returned to the Church for some reason. “The temple as an object of cultural significance needs not only to be preserved and used but also to be popularized,” Novikov believes.

According to Stepan Novikov, one of the problems of the current parishioners is poor awareness, people often do not know that a particular building used to be a church. Photo: tatmitropolia.ru

As for rural churches, their restoration, as a rule, begins with the organization of the parish, interested persons, a priest, and sponsors appear. Often prayers are served in an almost ruined church. But the parish already exists, it lives. But what if a church is in a remote place, where no one has lived for a long time? Even if it is restored, what will be its future fate? This question also needs to be answered. The volunteer movement is a great force in the restoration of churches.

For example, the youth department of the Kazan diocese constantly travels to the countryside and works in the churches being saved. But it often happens that it is difficult to begin work on the restoration of the church, the parish seems to be registered, but it is not clear on whom — a legal entity or an individual. There are also questions about obtaining a license for restoration.

Why is it important to restore churches? Even if we remove the religious component, we should not deny that these are primarily objects of cultural and historical heritage. “Architecture — it is the works of art, for which it is not necessary to go to a museum,” Stepan Novikov reminded the famous expression.

The village church or mosque is, as a rule, the dominant of the ensemble. The churches in the villages were sometimes as good and often better, richer than in the city. Now there are cases when the revival of a village begins with the revival of a temple. According to Novikov, perhaps the construction of modern cottage settlements should be “tied” to the already standing and in need of restoration temples. The cult object, in this case, can act as a city-forming factor.

But the object aroused interest among the population, it wants to use for its intended purpose, that is, as a temple. There is a need for restoration. And there is a danger — unprofessional builders and restorers can destroy the temple. Good intentions for the object being restored are not always good. “It happens that the object is completely rebuilt, the bell tower is being built, which had not existed before, the domes are golden, and all this causes some dissonance and rejection in the public,” Novikov says.

The village church or mosque is, as a rule, the dominant of the ensemble. The churches in the villages were sometimes as good and often better, richer than in the city. Now there are cases when the revival of a village begins with the revival of a temple. Photo: almet-eparhia.info

Often, such things happen when there is a parish, there is a patron who is ready to give money right now, but there is no clear vision, there is no competent restoration project. According to Stepan Novikov, there is only one way to avoid such unpleasant things — to attract professionals to work.

By the way, Tatarstan is one of the few regions where the interesting trend has appeared: people have started to move from city to village, and, as a rule, one of the decisive factors is the presence of a temple in a new place — already restored or one that still needs to be worked on. Such cases are still few, according to statistics, only 0,02 per cent, but still, they exist.

By Tatyana Mamaeva