Epitaph made by St. Maria (Skobtsova) survives devastating church fire in Paris

Paris, April 18, 2022

Photo: wikimedia.org Photo: wikimedia.org     

A Paris church of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Archdiocese of Orthodox Churches of Russian Tradition in Western Europe suffered a serious fire on Sunday afternoon, after the celebration of the feast of Palm Sunday.

Thankfully, there were no casualties in the blaze that destroyed much of the Church of St. Seraphim of Sarov on rue Lecourbe, though the church is now unusable, the Archdiocese reported yesterday.

Only a few sacred items survived, notably including an epitaph made by St. Maria (Skobtsova) of Paris, and the antimension.

Photo: Facebook Photo: Facebook     

His Eminence Metropolitan John of Dubna visited the site yesterday, assuring the priests that the entire Archdiocese would help rebuild the historic church. The church was first built by Russian emigrants in 1933.

French police are investigating the cause of the fire.


Mother Maria (Skobtsova, 1891-1945) was a nun of the Western European Russian Exarchate, which belonged to the Patriarchate of Constantinople at that time.

She became a nun in 1935, receiving the name of Maria after St. Mary of Egypt. She founded a House of Hospitality and a hostel for the homeless in Paris, thus offering a spiritual dimension to her social activities.

She also founded Orthodox Action, through which she was at the service of the unemployed, immigrants, the homeless, and those who couldn’t even afford their daily food.

During the German occupation, she helped persecuted Jews and especially children. On March 31, 1945, according to certain witnesses, Mother Maria was gassed at the Ravensbrück concentration camp, taking the place of a fellow prisoner sentenced to death.

She was canonized as a Nun-Martyr by the Patriarchate of Constantinople in 2004.

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