This past New Year’s celebrations in Russia saw an unprecedented and beautiful addition to the usual, often raucous festivities. With the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, a dedicated research team with the assistance of many Orthodox laypeople and museum workers put together a stunning Exhibition of the Church’s historical, liturgical and devotional artifacts.
The Exhibition also featured interactive historical ‘digital classroom’ exhibits which covered the history of the Church in the Russian lands from the tenth century conversion of the Rus to the present day. Most compelling were the popular exhibits which showed the horrific campaign of spiritual and cultural destruction and revisionism waged by the Communist authorities against Christians during the Soviet era, especially under dictators Josef Stalin and Nikita Khrushchev. Prominent icons ferried out of Russia and returned in the 1990s following the end of the Soviet Union featured prominently in the exhibit, and people queued for hours for the opportunity to pray before the revered holy images. Russian President Dmitri Medvedev and His Holiness Patriarch Kirill both visited the Exhibition and venerated the icons.