Shanghai, May 8, 2019
The Orthodox faithful of Shanghai had double cause for celebration this year on the feast of Pascha, as they were able to celebrate the feast in the Cathedral of the “Surety of Sinners” Icon of the Mother of God for the first time in more than 50 years.
Several hundred believers from China, Russia, Serbian, Greece, Moldova, France, Italy, Germany, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, the U.S., Canada, and several other countries attended the festal service on Sunday morning in the cathedral, located on the territory of the former French concession, reports TASS.
The service was celebrated by the rector of the local Orthodox community, Fr. John. Pascha was also celebrated at midnight in the building of the Consulate General of the Russian Federation in Shanghai, with prayers read in Church Slavonic, English, German, Polish, Romanian, Serbian, Greek, Uzbek, Ukrainian, Belarusian, and Chinese.
The service in the cathedral was made possible by the diplomats of the Consulate General in cooperation with the Chinese authorities, Fr. John reported. “This Pascha in the cathedral is a unique occasion to simply go inside the church after many decades of its inactivity. Today’s event is another testimony of the growing mutual trust and friendship between the Russian and Chinese people,” the rector added.
The last service was held in the cathedral in 1965 when the last rector died. Unfortunately, the Paschal service was a one-time event, though it is notable that it took place with the agreement of the Chinese authorities.
In the 1920s-30s, there were about 30,000 Russian immigrants living in Shanghai and 12 Orthodox churches, including several house churches. Only two churches have survived until today—the Cathedral (built in 1937), and the Church of St. Nicholas—a monument to Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II. The Russian Church’s property in China was transferred to the Chinese government in 1956 in accordance with Soviet-Chinese agreements.
The cathedral continued to operate until 1965, when the last bishop of the Chinese Orthodox Church, His Grace Bishop Simeon of Shanghai, reposed. The only other service in the cathedral since its closure was a Divine Liturgy celebrated by His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia during a 2013 visit to China.
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