World's Largest Orthodox Church Planned where Russia's Last Emperor was Murdered

40,000 Christians should fit inside this cathedral. They plan to build it in the area near where the family of Tsar Nicholas II was killed, and it may become one of the biggest pilgrimage destinations in all of Russia.

Originally appeared at: Herald Malaysia

The largest Orthodox church in the world will be built in the territory of the female monastery dedicated to the "Bread Dispenser" icon of the Mother of God. This cathedral should be capable of gathering nearly 40,000 faithful within its walls.

The starets of the monastery, Igumen Sergiy (Romanov), announced the project. He is an almost legendary and rather mysterious character, with links to many Russian public figures: the Duma deputy Natalja Poklonskaja (ex-Crimean prosecutor), the hockey champion Pavel Datsjuk, the singer Aleksandr Novikov, and others, including several entrepreneurs and oligarchs, all ready to finance the grandiose project.

Its construction was commissioned by Fr. Ilja Nozdin, spiritual father of the Patriarch Kirill of Moscow. It will be financed by some spiritual sons of the starets Sergij Romanov. The church already attracts many Chinese. It is an Orthodox outpost on the outskirts of Asia. It will rise in the area where the family of Tsar Nicholas II was killed. It could become the largest pilgrimage destination in all of Russia.

Zhanna Rjabtseva revealed some details of the building plan. Ryabtseva is president of the regional parliament in Sverdlovsk, the Ekaterinburg area, and also a parishioner of Father Sergiy. He states that the idea of this super-church was approved directly by another famous Igumen, father Ilja (Nozdrin), spiritual father of Kirill, the Patriarch of Moscow. The church will be dedicated to Sofia (Divine Wisdom) and is planned to reach 77 meters in height (252 feet tall), with a dome 22 meters (72 feet) high and 33 meters (108 feet) in diameter.

The entire complex will be arranged in three large naves and will contain two churches, a lower one of 11 thousand square meters (118,000 square feet) for 20 thousand people, and an upper church of 6.5 thousand square meters (70,000 square feet) for over 18 thousand faithful Christians.

According to Rjabtseva, the construction of the overall base will begin this year, and the foundations will be extended over 100x100 meters. The completion date, according to his words "are in the hands of God, but it will be a great popular event". When asked who the financiers of the project are, the only answer was that "they will be some of Father Sergiy's spiritual children."

According to Rjabtseva, many Chinese will be interested in the construction, fascinated by the events that led the members of the imperial family to conclude their earthly journey on the Urals, and “will ask to receive baptism in this place . . . currently, Chinese converts go to other locations, such as the Diveevo monastery (founded by St. Seraphim of Sarov) or to the Holy Trinity Lavra of Saint Sergius, to reach the sources of the great Russian spirituality. In this new church, thousand of baptisms of Chinese are expected to take place on a regular basis." In this way, the church of St. Sophia would become the main Orthodox outpost on the outskirts of Asia.

Igumen Sergiy (Romanov)

An entrepreneur was interviewed under anonymity, and he explained that the fundraising had already been underway for the past couple of years. He said it took only a year and a half to determine where the church would be built, and on which land — three and a half hectares (8.6 acres) of countryside owned by the Krekov family. President Rjabtseva convinced them to sell it to the diocese of Ekaterinburg, for a sum that remained reserved, presumably close to 5 million euros (5.5 million US Dollars). So far, the Krekovs have rejected all requests for interviews, declaring only that "our silence was one of the conditions of the agreement".

The diocese has not commented on the project yet, but has promised to convene journalists on the matter shortly. In the circles of the Muscovite Patriarchate there is no precise information on this future super-cathedral, but for some time now they have been discussing various devotional and architectural initiatives to honor the memory of the Tsar-martyr and his family in the Ekaterinburg area.

On the site of the assassination of Nicholas II, the "Ipat'ev house", the large church "on Blood" has already been built, of over 3 thousand square meters (32,000 square feet) for a capacity of about 2 thousand Christians. The other major cathedrals of Russia are the Patriarchal cathedral of the Holy Savior in Moscow, planned for 10 thousand faithful, and the St. Isaac cathedral in St. Petersburg for over 11 thousand. This great new church in the Urals could become the largest pilgrimage destination in all of Russia