Russian Orthodox Church Abroad Celebrates 90 Years
On December 10, Orthodox Christians all over America celebrated 90 years since the establishment of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, also known as the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. After nearly 80 years of separation, the Russian Church Abroad has united with the Russian Orthodox Church.
The history of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad started in 1920. After the 1917 revolution, Russian emigrants, many of whom were priests, decided to found their own church. They asked for official permission from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, and in December 1920 they got this permission.
For all these years, the Russian Church Abroad kept the holy traditions of Orthodox Christianity. It opened seminaries and universities, published books and magazines and founded several Orthodox monasteries and convents in different parts of the world. In fact, the church was more than a religious organization – it helped Russians who were torn away from their homeland to preserve their national identity.
For nearly 80 years, the Russian Church Abroad was isolated from the Moscow Patriarchate. However, in May 2007, thanks to the efforts of hierarchs of both churches, the split was overcome. In a large gathering of people, the Act of Canonical Unification of the two churches was signed in Moscow’s main Orthodox cathedral – the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. For Christians of the both churches, this was a great holiday, Father Philipp Ryabykh says.
The jubilee’s main festivities are taking place in the New York Cathedral of Our Lady of the Sign – this cathedral is considered to be the main temple of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. It is here where the main sacred relic of Orthodoxy abroad – the wondrous icon of Our Lady of the Sign – is kept. The icon was secretly taken from Russia in 1920 by emigrants. It is often taken to different dioceses of the Russian Church Abroad for worshiping. In 2009 the icon was brought to Russia. The return of the icon was a sign of the unification of the two fraternal churches.