Celebrations of 1000 anniversary of the Rus Baptism History

On december 23, 1980, the Holy Synod decided to “begin preparing for the celebration of the Russian Orthodox Church of the forthcoming Great Anniversery”, which formed the Jubilee Committee under the chairmanship of Patriarch Pimen. Originally, the celebration of the Jubilee of the Baptism of Russia was strictly internal Church celebration.

On may 17, 1983  of the complex of buildings of the former Moscow’s Danilov Monastery was trasfered to create on its territory “Spiritual and administrative center” of the Moscow Patriarchate. The decision was taken not only the Orthodox in Moscow, but also the entire Soviet Union as an event of the utmost importance, as the first sign may be changing attitudes towards the country’s leadership needs of the Church. Restoring the first since 1930 in the capital of the monastic cloister communist state became widely known in the community that attracted the interest of both the upcoming anniversary, and Orthodoxy in general. In 1984, an attempt was made to prevent the creation in Danilov monastery monastic community. But after the death of general secretary of the CPSU Central Committee Konstantin Chernenko objections from the authorities disappeared. Some concerns about the leadership of the Moscow Patriarchate environment caused the appointment in November 1984 for the post of President of the Council for Religious Affairs Kharcheva Constantine, where succeeded Vladimir Kuroyedov. But the beginning of the 1986 revision of the state policy on religion and the rights of religious citizens dispelled those fears: the media began to publish materials about repressions in the USSR, of the Russian Orthodox Church as the guardian of the people’s culture and spirituality, of Optina, the fate of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, others murdered shrines.

Celebrations of 1000 anniversary of the Rus Baptism History
Metropolitan Juvenal

As recalled Metropolitan Juvenal (Poyarkov), the upcoming anniversary has attracted interest from people:

Immediately we got the “responsiveness” in the atheistic press. I remember the article, “What will be celebrating Russian church”? “And whether the Baptism of Rus’? “Was there a general Christ? This is not proven science. “But we did not hesitate, and the Providence of God so happened that joined UNESCO.

The main official celebrations have been agreed two years before the anniversary: ??July 29, 1986, the Holy Synod decided “on the occasion of convening the Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church and hold it 6 to 9 June 1988”. At the same time the Commission has been published on the preparation and celebration of the 1000th anniversary of the Baptism of Russia as a part of 43 people.

Considerable interest was published in August 1987, an article by Academician Boris Rauschenbach, dedicated to the Baptism of Russia and its importance for the Old Russian state. The article was published in many languages ??and published around the world, including the publication of “The Courier”. The situation was monitored and abroad: in November 1987 XXIV General Assembly of UNESCO urged to note “the 1000th anniversary of Christianity in the introduction as the biggest event in European and world history and culture”. This statement attracted the Russian Orthodox Church the most public attention not only of the Soviet Union, but also around the world.

The celebration of the triumph of the 1000 anniversary of the Baptism of Rus

Before the anniversery  time in Kiev, Moscow and Leningrad held three international conferences devoted to the activities of the church for all its thousand-year history. In addition to these conferences, Russian and foreign theologians and church historians also participated secular scientists. It was presented more than 250 papers. Proceedings of the conference, held July 21-28, 1986 in Kiev, published in the 28th issue of “Theological works”. Scheduled for early summer 1988 the main religious festivities, including a festive divine service and a thanksgiving service in all churches of the Russian Orthodox Church, it was decided to coincide with the Day of All Saints Resplendent in the Russian Land, which, according to the church calendar, fell on June 12.

Celebrations of 1000 anniversary of the Rus Baptism History
at a meeting of the scientific conference

Held on March 28-31, 1988 in the former Novodevichy Convent Pre-Council Meeting of Bishops in the communique, among other things, said: “Members of the Bishops’ Meeting Preconciliar gratefully consider it necessary to note the positive attitude of the Soviet Government to the questions put forward by the Hierarchy of the Church.” On April 29, 1988 in the presence of reporters from around the world at the Catherine Hall of the Kremlin met the Patriarch and the permanent members of the Synod of Mikhail Gorbachev “in connection with the 1000th anniversary of the introduction of Christianity in Russia.” Gorbachev himself thus called Baptism of Rus Prince Vladimir “a milestone in the centuries-old way of the country’s history, culture and Russian statehood” and noted that the restructuring was made possible thanks to the greater involvement of religious leaders in society. In response, Pimen expressed “architect of perestroika and herald a new political thinking”, “full support”, “sincere thanks” and blessed the continuation Gorbachev initiated cases. The meeting served as a signal for the party and Soviet authorities permitted to coverage as a national celebration of the Jubilee event.

Celebrations of 1000 anniversary of the Rus Baptism History
Meeting with Mikhail Gorbachev

The real sensation at the time was the approval of the authorities in the capital to build a new church in honor of the Millennium of the Baptism of Rus’, what was agreed at a meeting with the bishops Mikhail Gorbachev. On May 26, 1988 in the Moscow Kremlin Armoury solemn transfered of the Russian Orthodox Church the sacred relics are kept in the museums of the Moscow Kremlin.

Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet on June 3, 1988 “for active peacekeeping operations and in connection with the 1000 anniversary of the Baptism of Rus’ Patriarch Pimen, Metropolitan of Kiev Filaret (Denisenko), Metropolitan Alexy of Leningrad (Ridiger), Archbishop Nicholas Gorky (Kutepov), Archbishop Alexander of Dmitrov (Timofeev) (Rector MDA) were awarded the Order of the Red Banner of Labor; a number of other bishops – the Order of Friendship of Peoples.

On the eve of celebrations of the Church were transferred Kozelskaya Vvedenskaya Optina (Kaluga) and Tolga Monastery (Yaroslavl). On the eve of the Millennium of the Church of the buildings were returned to the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra. Church relics were transferred, which were deposited in the state museums of the Moscow Kremlin.

The main anniversary celebrations took place on 5 – 12 June 1988 in Zagorsk and Moscow. In Moscow, attended by participants of the Local Council and the 517 guests, including the primates of the Local Orthodox Churches: Patriarch of Antioch, Ignatius IV, Patriarch of Jerusalem, Diodorus, Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia II, Patriarch of Bulgaria Maxim, Archbishop of Cyprus Chrysostomos I, Metropolitan Basil of Warsaw Metropolitan Dorofei Prague, Metropolitan of All America and Canada, Theodosius. Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios I has not arrived due to some differences of protocol nature. Celebrations in the Patriarchate of Constantinople, which was attended by delegations from the Russian Orthodox Church headed by Archbishop Kirill of Smolensk and Vyazemsky, held earlier and were confined to the Sunday of Orthodoxy, February 28, 1988.

Celebrations of 1000 anniversary of the Rus Baptism History
Local Council

Jubilee celebrations opened the Divine Liturgy in the Moscow Epiphany Cathedral

June 6 opened the Local Council in the Trinity-Sergius Lavra, which lasted until June 9. Cathedral glorified in a face sacred number of devotees: Dimitry Donskoy, Andrei Rublev, Maxim the Greek, St. Macarius of Moscow, Ignatius Brianchaninov and Theophan the Recluse, Venerable Paisius Velichkovsky and Ambrose of Optina, Xenia of Petersburg. Council accepted a number of historical decisions that changed the humiliating position of the Russian Orthodox Church in the Soviet state. On it with universal support were canceled imposed by the Council of Bishops of the 1961 amendments to the “Regulations of the Russian Orthodox Church”, deprived of all power in the economic and financial sphere, and the bishops and superiors of congregations. (In 1961, these “corrections” were presented to the bishops for approval of future Patriarch Pimen). Council adopted a new “Statute of the Russian Orthodox Church”, which in its content has been significantly updated and improved in comparison with the old “Regulations …” 1945. At the Council it was decided to intensify work in the area of ??spiritual education and publishing activities of the Church. At the council also discussed many other important issues of church life. All week, from June 5 to June 12 in Moscow churches committed public service, and on 11 June the all-night vigil.

For public illumination of charitable purposes has been granted the Bolshoi Theatre have been adopted by foreign guests at the head of the Council of Ministers Nikolai Ryzhkov – until the celebration continued, the program was constantly growing. And tirelessly these activities extensively within the entire USSR was covered on television. Mikhail Gorbachev was not involved in these subjects, but his wife, Raisa Gorbachev was a frequent guest of all non-liturgical activities, and all the time has been in the media spotlight. The culmination of the celebration was on June 12 when the bishops gathered in Moscow almost all Orthodox churches of the world. On the square just recovered from the dilapidated state of the Danilov Monastery held a festive Divine Liturgy was celebrated Divine Liturgy, which made Patriarch of Antioch, Ignatius IV, Patriarch of Jerusalem, Diodorus I, Patriarch Pimen, Catholicos-Patriarch of all Georgia Ilia II, Patriarch of the Romanian Teoctist, Patriarch of Bulgaria Maxim, Archbishop of Cyprus Chrysostomos I.

Celebrations of 1000 anniversary of the Rus Baptism History
a nation-wide celebration of the 1000th anniversary of the Baptism of Rus

The value of holiday

Celebrations took place in Kiev, Leningrad and Vladimir, and after June 18 – in all the dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church. Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Pimen, speaking at the closing of the anniversary celebrations, said:

Christianity was the channel through which flowed in the ancient land of culture is the most advanced civilization of that time – Byzantium. This culture fell on fertile ground … completes the first ten centuries of the history of our Church. Lord! Bless the world and piety start the second millennium of our being in the house of God … the Russian land in the world and preserve the Orthodox faith to strengthen her forever. Amen.

Many activities festivals are widely broadcast on national television. June 13, 1988 in Moscow, near Tsaritsynsky ponds near Kashira Highway Patriarch Pimen laid the foundation stone of the “temple initiate the 1000th anniversary of the Baptism of Russia, church in the memory of all our compatriots, his life relied upon to protect the sacred limits of our homeland in the war … “.

1988 was a turning point in the public perception of the Church and its role in the history of Russia. Celebrations of the Millennium become for the Russian Orthodox Church a true triumph of the faithful could not imagine before the event.

Celebrations  marked the Millennium and the events of the previous months mark a real reversal in church policy Gorbachev, who used the anniversary in order to advertise their own activities. Most likely it was important to gain the trust of the West.

Celebrations of 1000 anniversary of the Rus Baptism History
celebrations in the Donskoy Monastery

We began to open up, restored and built new temples (this process was outlined as early as 1987, but after the celebrations turned anew). After the 1000th anniversary of the Baptism of Russia were officially changed the rules of registration of the Soviet Orthodox parishes. It is not required to collect the community “twenty”, ruined temples mass transfer power. Throughout the Soviet Union it was recorded more than a hundred communities on a daily basis. More and more people began to pray to God, the Bible becomes available and church literature. Since then, the party and state media (the other in the USSR did not exist then) started to actively cover issues of religious life, on television appear the spiritual Christian programs.

The value of this holiday is difficult to overestimate. If this was not the celebration of the millennium, then clearly it was a celebration of the century. XX century, which has been shed so much blood of our people, there was a fracture of consciousness, rejection of spirituality. 1000th anniversary of the Baptism of Russia revived the foundation of our nation – the Orthodox faith. The spiritual upsurge that followed the celebration it was impossible to stop. Power was forced to compromise and engage in dialogue with the Church and society.

Today we continue to live in the spiritual background of this holiday. The construction of new churches, monasteries, church life – it all started in 1988. It is important to remember this and to confront the new threats of our Russian Orthodox Church.