Voices from Russia

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

French Court Rules that the Russian Cathedral in Nice is the Property of the Russian State not the So-called “Paris Jurisdiction”

St Nicholas church in Nice in France. Break out the bubbly and celebrate! The Paris poseurs (the group that gave us such paragons of Orthodoxy as Alexander Schmemann and the reputed pederast Pierre l’Huillier) have to hand the church back to the proper owners. Madame Plas is vindicated… bully for her! Don’t forget… SVS modelled itself on this squiffy lot… Oh, my Nicky took this snap in 1966.

The High Court of Nice ruled that the Russian state is the sole legal owner of the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of St Nicholas in this city, the church property and fixtures, and the land on which it is located. A spokesman for the Orthodox community in Paris told Interfax-Religion that the court made this decision Wednesday at a hearing. According to our source, the court decision is “subject to immediate execution”. The trial on the question of the ownership of the cathedral in Nice began four years ago.

The construction of this church had a connection with a tragic event in the history of the Romanov dynasty. In 1865, Tsarevich Nikolai Aleksandrovich, the son of Tsar Aleksandr Nikolaevich, died in Nice from spinal meningitis. In 1868, at the place of his death, a chapel in honour of St Nicholas the Wonderworker was built. In addition, Nice was one of the most visited French resorts by Russians, in the winter of 1881-82, more than 2,000 Russians sojourned here. Even earlier, in 1859, the first Russian church was consecrated, also in honour of St Nicholas, in memory of Tsar Nikolai Pavlovich. In 1896, Dowager Empress Maria Fyodorovna, who in her youth had been betrothed to the late tsarevich, supported an initiative of his confessor, Fr Sergei Lyubimov, of building a new Russian church in Nice. The cornerstone was laid 12 April 1903, the anniversary of the death of Tsarevich Nikolai. The construction of the church took place on land owned by the imperial family. In 1908, when work stopped due to lack of funds, Tsar St Nikolai Aleksandrovich donated the required amount.

Architect M P Preobrazhensky, a professor of the Petersburg Academy of Arts, based the design of the church building on the style of Moscow and Yaroslavl church architecture at the end of the 16th and the beginning of the 17th centuries, much like the Church of St Basil the Blessed in Moscow. The iconostasis was made to the design of L A Pyanovsky, a graduate of the Moscow Stroganov School, at Klebnikov Brothers workshop in Moscow, and its icons were painted by the artist Glazunov in the style of Semyon Ushakov of the 17th century. Its consecration took place in the winter of 1912 on the feastday of St Nicholas on 19 December, and the church immediately gained the status of a cathedral, thus, it became the first Russian cathedral abroad. After the Revolution, émigrés who had fled the Reds made up the bulk of the congregation. Many of them were buried here, in the Russian cemetery in Nice. Amongst them are the morganatic wife of Tsar Aleksandr Nikolaevich, Princess Yekaterina Yuryevskaya (Dolgorukova), former Minister of Foreign Affairs S D Sazonov, the artist F A Malyavin, and the poet G V Adamovich. In the early twentieth century, the Russian government leased the church to the parish community for 99 years. In the 1920s, the parish came under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. The lease on the parish property expired in early 2008.

20 January 2010




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