The world-famous wooden Church of the Transfiguration on Kizhi Island in the Russian Republic of Karelia reopened to visitors last month for the first time in 40 years, following 15 years of restoration.
And yesterday, the years of work culminated in a great spiritual event, as the Divine Liturgy was celebrated in the church for the first time in 84 years, together with the consecration of the renovated church. The last service in the church was celebrated in 1928, before it was closed by the godless authorities. Services will now be held once a year on the patronal feast of the Transfiguration. Since 1980, pilgrims and tourists could only view the church from the outside.
The rite of consecration of the 22-domed, UNESCO-protected church was celebrated by His Eminence Metropolitan Konstantin of Petrozavodsk and Karelia, the Kizhi Museum-Reserve’s press service reported to TASS.
After the service, a cross procession was held, followed by the blessing of fruit that is traditional on the feast of the Transfiguration.
A Russia 1 newscast includes footage of the service:
The Church of the Transfiguration was built in 1714 and is designated an object of cultural heritage of federal significance. It also included in the UNESCO World Heritage List together with another church and bell tower from the 18th-19th centuries.
The iconostasis contains more than 100 authentic icons from the 17-19th centuries.
The last parish priest was Fr. Alexei Petukhov, who defied soviet orders and continued to serve in the church for months after its closure. He was arrested on October 26, 1937, in the village of Kizhi, and was convicted and shot the next month.
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