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Ancient churches of Dagestan and places associated with Rasul Gamzatov will be part of the "Holy Places of Undivided Christianity" route

On September 6, a working meeting on the participation of the Republic of Dagestan in the "Holy Places of Undivided Christianity" project was held at the Museum of the History of World Cultures and Religions in Derbent.

The event was attended by Miguel Palacio, Doctor of Theology (ThD), Head of the Association "Holy Places of Undivided Christianity", Deputy Director General of the Library for Foreign Literature for Interregional and International Cooperation; Diana Hasanova, Director of the Museum of History of World Cultures and Religions; PhD in Philosophy, Associate Professor, Professor of Legal and Humanitarian Disciplines of the Dagestan Humanitarian University Branch in Derbent, Head of the UNESCO Department for Comparative Studies of Spiritual


During the meeting Miguel Palacio spoke about the concept of the "Holy Places of Undivided Christianity" project, as well as about the cultural, historical and spiritual monuments already included in the itinerary. He separately emphasized that the Republic of Dagestan, rich in centuries-old history and culture, could not only become a significant part of the project, but also give it a new, unique direction: "Cooperation with beautiful Dagestan gives us the opportunity to include not only an inter-Christian, but also an interreligious component in the route of the Holy Places of Undivided Christianity.

Miguel Palacio added that, in preparation for the event, he studied information about the activities of the Museum of the History of World Cultures and Religions and was impressed by the number of educational and scientific events that are organized by this relatively young cultural institution (the Museum opened in 2014).


The speaker drew attention to the fact that the Museum has already developed thematic tours, which are of interest for the route "Holy Places of undivided Christianity. Among them are "Sacred Scriptures of traditional religions," "Religious vestments of clergymen," "Religious motifs in fine art," and "Russian iconography: plot and technique.

In addition, the itinerary will include ancient Christian temples in Dagestan, such as the Datun Church, located in the Shamil region (late 10th – early 11th century), and an underground aging (c. 300) discovered in the Naryn-Kala citadel of the Derbent fortress in 2019 – if ongoing research confirms that it is an early Christian temple.


Important points on the international route in the Republic of Dagestan will be churches dedicated to all-Christian saints. Among them are the Church of St. Prince Vladimir in Makhachkala, built on the site of the Cathedral of St. Alexander Nevsky, which was demolished in 1952, and the Church of the Holy Savior (Surb Amenaprkich) in Derbent. According to Miguel Palacio, it would be important to pay tribute to the holy places of Dagestan that were destroyed in the year of repression against the Church in the 20th century, in particular the St. Nicholas Church in Makhachkala (destroyed in 1926) when compiling the route.


"I believe it is imperative to include the Church of Saint Grigoris in the village of Nyugdi. Saint Grigoris is revered by the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Russian and other Orthodox Churches, as well as the Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches," Gulchokhra Seidova added. And Diana Hasanova, for her part, recommended to complement the route with the temple, which is located in Khasavyurt – the Church of the Sign, built in 1903


Given the status of the Republic of Dagestan as an important center of intercultural and interreligious dialogue, the map of the route "Holy Places of Undivided Christianity" may include the oldest mosque in Russia, the Juma Mosque in Derbent, the synagogue Kele-Numaz in Derbent and the historical park "Russia – My History" in Makhachkala, created under the leadership of Metropolitan Tikhon of Pskov and Porchov, Chairman of the Patriarchal Council for Culture.


Since the "Holy Places of Undivided Christianity" project pays important attention to places of life and activities of historical and cultural figures who played an important role in the rapprochement between Christian confessions, Miguel Palacio suggested including in the route points connected with Rasul Gamzatov: the national poet of Dagestan, a Knight of the Order of Saint Apostle Andrew in his work, especially his late work, addressed the spiritual motives and the need for better understanding between the followers of different religions. "It is no coincidence that we are meeting for the first time here in Derbent, on the eve of the birthday of the great son of the Dagestani people, which is celebrated on September 8," said Miguel Palacio.


The head of the Association for the Holy Places of Undivided Christianity quoted verses by Gamzatov, whose 100th anniversary will be celebrated at the federal level in 2023:

After the discussion, a memorandum was signed about the Museum of the History of World Cultures and Religions joining the Association "Holy Places of Undivided Christianity.


At the end of the meeting, Miguel Palacio presented the Museum of the History of World Cultures and Religions with a gift – a commemorative medal of Pope Francis, which he received personally from the Pontiff during a meeting at the Vatican.


September 17, 2021

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