Russian Patriarch unveils Kremlin icon hidden since 1917

August 31, 2010 | Web First
By Sophia Kishkovsky | Ecumenical News International

A fresco of Christ on the Kremlin Wall in Moscow rediscovered after being plastered over during the 1917 Bolshevik revolution has been presented in a ceremony attended by Patriarch Kirill I of the Russian Orthodox Church and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev.

"The history of these icons is a symbol of what happened with our people in the 20th century," said Kirill at the 28 August ceremony. "It was claimed that true goals and values and genuine shrines were destroyed, and that faith had disappeared from the lives of our people."

The fresco of Christ is located over the Spasskaya, or Saviour, tower of the Kremlin, near St Basil's Cathedral on Red Square. Experts say it dates to the middle or second half of the 17th century. Another icon, that of St Nicholas the Wonderworker, on the nearby Nikolskaya tower at the opposite end of Red Square Kremlin tower, is also being restored.

Historical justice and civic and spiritual solidarity are being restored, said the Patriarch at the Spasskaya tower, where he blessed Christ's image. The unveiling coincided with the Feast of the Dormition, which the Russian Orthodox Church celebrates on Aug. 28.

"What is happening today bears witness to the fact that the combining of forces of the State, Church and institutions of civil society for the sake of achieving mutual and important goals gives us a wonderful example of solidarity," said Kirill.

The St Nicholas icon, dating to around the end of the 15th century, was also found to have survived and is still undergoing restoration. It was damaged by bullets and shrapnel during battles in October 1917, but the saint's face was untouched.

Both icons were covered up by restorers who sought to save them from the Bolsheviks, who wanted to destroy them during their revolution against tsarist rule.

President Medvedev thanked Kirill "for participating in the restoration of the icons and also the restoration of the truth", and said that it will serve to protect Russia.

"I am sure that the discovery and consecration of the icons and restoration of justice will ensure further protection for our country," said Medvedev. "Therefore all those present here, all those who pray for and those who love our country will be protected too."

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