Kremlin cathedral reconsecrated Orthodox church returned by state

September 24, 1990|By Los Angeles Times

MOSCOW -- The largest and most historic of the Kremlin's cathedrals was reconsecrated by the Russian Orthodox Church yesterday in a joyous celebration that Patriarch Alexei II said marked the revival of the country's spiritual and moral ideals.

Attended by leading Soviet officials and the church hierarchy, the service returned the Cathedral of the Assumption to religious use after seven decades as a state museum, concert hall and all-purpose tourist attraction with its five golden domes and ornate interior.

The reconsecration of the 15th-century cathedral was later televised, including Patriarch Alexei's saying the cathedral's return was an important sign of the spiritual revival the Soviet Union needed to carry it through the difficult days ahead.

A second major Russian Orthodox church, the Church of the Great Ascension, was returned by the state yesterday, and the patriarch led a hymn-singing procession of more than 3,000 people from the Kremlin's Trinity Gate through central Moscow to the church for a service of thanksgiving.

In the past five years, more than 6,500 religious communities -- Orthodox and Catholic churches, Islamic mosques, Jewish synagogues and other faiths -- have been registered by the State Council for Religious Affairs; about one-third of them are described as new, not the reopening of old houses of worship that had been closed.

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