The opening of the Palestine Society’s exhibition in Moscow

5.06.12
An international exhibition «Russia in the Holy Land» dedicated to the 130th anniversary of the foundation of the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society. The opening ceremony was held on June 5, 2012 at the Central Exhibition Hall «Manege».

The opening ceremony was attended by Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation V. R. Medinsky, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia, M. L. Bogdanov, Chairman of the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society, the head of the Russian Audit Chamber Sergei Stepashin, Deputy Chairman of the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society (IOPS) Archbishop Mark Yegoryevsky.

Among those present at the ceremony were the representative of the Patriarch of Antioch at the Patriarchate of Moscow and All Russia Archbishop Fillipopolsky Niphon, The Bishop of Narva His Grace Lazarus, a member of IOPS, Deputy Chairman of the Department of External Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church Archpriest Nikolai Balashov, the ambassadors of the Middle East in the Russian Federation, a member of the Synod of the Estonian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, Sergei Männik, writer Michael Wynne-Parker (United Kingdom), representatives of Russian state institutions, artists, scientists and clergy.

Addressing the gathering, the Chairman of IOPS Sergei Stepashin said that some 870 exhibits submitted for the exhibition from the collections of more than 30 museums in the world, tell us about the history of the Russian presence in the Holy Land. Referring to the difficult situation in the Middle East, he expressed the hope that the exhibition will become a significant indication that peace, friendship, understanding and love for the Holy Land, uniting all nations. Sergei Stepashin noted with appreciation the participation of the heads of diplomatic missions of Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, in the preparation of the exhibition.

The Russian people came to the Holy Land with peace, said Minister of Culture of Russia V. R. Medinsky. «We see that our sites in Palestine are ennobled, the temples are built, and the convents are restored. Apparently, it was in this work, IOPS shows the unique advantage of the Russian model of peace and peaceful interpenetration of civilizations»- he believes.

Further, Archbishop Mark Yegoryevsky made a speech of the importance for believers of the Biblical region, which became the birthplace of three monotheistic religions. «Throughout the history of Russia we see how the heart of the believer constantly seeks to shrines of the East» — he said, drawing the attention of those present at many levels in the Russian language the term «East» and the perceived, not only geographically and politically, but also in the spiritual dimension.

The Bishop of Narva His Grace Lazarus presented a gift to the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society of a church mug — it is through these mugs that was carried out the so-called «jug collection» for the needs of the Orthodox Palestine Society. The revolution of 1917 broke with this tradition, but Bishop Lazarus restored historical justice: the mug was not empty, but was filled with Russian coins and banknotes of the beginning of the XX century.

Michael Wynne-Parker, an English writer and the Chairman of the Guild of Travel and Tourism of Great Britain, noted the enormous endowment that the IOPS contributed to the development of tourism and pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and gave IOPS a set of unique documents relating to important property matters in the 1970’s. He also spoke of the enormous contribution of Archimandrite Antony Grabbe during that crucial period of the Societies history.

The basis of the exhibition was the presentation of relevant icons, paintings of famous Russian artists, pilgrim relics, books, photographs and documents from public museums, libraries and archives. The exhibition features artifacts from the collections of the Palestinian society, in particular, the pre-revolutionary and modern photo archive and materials of scientific expeditions of IOPS, items from the personal archives of the chairmen and officials of the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society, from museums and private collections. The visitors can see the unique gospel of the XV century, belonged to the Martyr Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, and rare archival documents, publications of the Palestinian society, the paintings of Vasily Vereshchagin and Vasiliy Polenov and much more.

Saint George Foundation