Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill’s visit to Yakutsk appeared to be a big event. He arrived on Thursday and departed in the Saturday morning. I didn’t expect anything special from his arrival.
I am a believer, but not Orthodox. I didn’t hide or ignore his presence in the city. I think it wasn’t even possible to do. You could see signs of his visit all around. Like a lot of church goers in the center as well as policemen. Like all-embracing sounds of noisy bells. Like long liturgy motets. Besides, I found out that many friends of mine believed in the Orthodox Christianity. My wife saw them in the church during Partiarch Kirill’s liturgy. She says all of them were extremely happy. Moreover, that generally-accepted Holy man shaked my wife’s hand after his long staring at her.
What’s that? At one moment, I started believing that I was living in the city of the 16th or 17th century. Totally Orthodox. Similiar feelings had the Patriarch. Here what he was thinking, as his public relations department reported:
The Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill is convinced that the capital of the Republic of Sakha, the city of Yakutsk, has the right to be named a stronghold of the Russian Orthodox faith today.
“I visited Yakutsk for the first time in 1971, to see the land, meet the people and find out if there was faith in these parts. I found a church with difficulty, entered that small wooden structure and saw just a handful of elderly praying women. There were no other signs of religious life. I had a double feeling then. On the one hand, I saw a rich land and friendly, trusting people, on the other hand, a spiritual desert.”
For the last three decades, the situation with religion has drastically changed. Today there are four Orthodox churches in the city. All in all, the diocese has over 50 parishes with Orthodox schools and Sunday schools. At present, 10 more churches are under construction in Yakutia and the number of believers is growing.
The history of the introduction of the local population to Christianity goes back to the 17th century when East Siberia was explored by Russian manufacturers and Cossacks. The Cossack regiments were the first to bring the initial knowledge of Orthodox Christianity to those who had lived in Yakutia all their lives. The local population was converted to Christianity very fast, due to the efforts of priests and missionaries, and by the middle of the 19th century, the non-Christian population of Yakutia was only 1%.
Metropolitan Innokenty Veniaminov translated the Bible and other religious books into the Yakut language in 1853 and in this way played a very important role in the consolidation and dissemination of the Orthodox faith. He was also the first to start preaching in the local dialects, thus making the teaching of the Russian Orthodox Church understandable to East Siberian natives. Mass conversion of the natives to Christianity followed. By the beginning of the 20th century, there were about 300 churches, chapels and prayer houses on the territory of the Republic of Sakha.
During his pastoral visit, Patriarch Kirill conducted the formal inauguration of the spiritual and educational Orthodox centre named after Archbishop Innokenty Veniaminov. Today this Orthodox missionary is considered to be a Saint not only in the Russian Church but also in the American Orthodox Church for his devoted work in the consolidation and dissemination of the Orthodox faith in Siberia, the Far East and Alaska.
Via Voice of Russia
Frankly saying, the republic’s government supports the Orthodox in Church. All top officials were spotted on that liturgy. Was their presence up there sincere, do not know, but my mentioned friends are true believers. Oh, btw, one of my school mates works as an Orthodox priest in Jordan. If you will see him, say hello from me.