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With the help of the Russian Cultural Foundation, a series of regional events was launched as part of the cultural and educational program of the "Holy Places of Undivided Christianity" route

On July 29, 2021, the project "Cycle of regional events within the cultural and educational program of the route "Holy Places of undivided Christianity", implemented with the use of a grant provided by the NGO "Russian Cultural Foundation" within the federal project "Creative People" of the national project "Culture", was launched. The Association "Holy Places of Undivided Christianity" is based at the M.I. Rudomino All-Russian State Library for Foreign Literature.

The project is designed to reveal the various aspects of common Christian cultural heritage in the regions of the country, to highlight the special role of books and reading in the preservation and popularization of Christian monuments. The cultural route "Holy Places of undivided Christianity," which includes not only touristic but also cultural-educational and research program, clearly demonstrates that religious culture and history are an integral part not only of the past but also of the present, a natural part of the world around us, an inexhaustible source of knowledge and creative ideas. Building on library and largely museum-based work, the project covers literature, history, architecture, fine arts, theology, and modern and ancient languages.

The series of events opened with a roundtable discussion on "The Book Heritage of Archpriest Alexander Men and its Role in the Development of Inter-Christian Dialogue," organized on the site of Sergievsky Church in Semkhoz. An outstanding pastor, preacher, missionary and theologian lived and worked for a long time in this neighborhood of Sergiev Posad, Moscow Region.

Archpriest Victor Grigorenko, rector of St. Sergius Church; Miguel Palacio, Doctor of Theology (ThD), head of the "Holy Places of Undivided Christianity" Association, Deputy Director General of the Library of Foreign Literature for Interregional and International Cooperation; psychotherapist, author of the book of memories "Father Alexander Men. Pastor at the Turn of the Century," spiritual son of Father Alexander Andrei Yeremin; candidate of cultural studies, art historian, art history teacher at Kolomna Theological Seminary Irina Yazykova and executive director of the "Country of Resurrection," secretary of the editorial board of the publication of Father Alexander's collected works Igor Lapshin.


Among the guests of honor were the representative of the Orthodox Church of the Czech lands and Slovakia to the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, the rector of the Church of St. Nicholas of Myra in Kotelniki, Archimandrite Seraphim (Shemyatovsky) and the clergy of the church.

Archpriest Victor Grigorenko opened the roundtable discussion and spoke about the church and cultural complex in memory of Father Alexander Men in Semkhoz: "This place is connected with the life, ministry, work and death of Archpriest Alexander Men. Here, in the house next door, Father Alexander lived the last decades of his life. And today we remember that this historic place is connected both with his memory and with the memory of one of our favorite ascetics, the Venerable Sergius of Radonezh, whom Father Alexander revered and loved very much. He was happy to live in close proximity to Trinity-Sergius Lavra.


Father Victor also read out a greeting from Yuri Belenky, the husband of Ekaterina Genieva, who headed the Library for Foreign Literature from 1993-2015.

"The Holy Places of Undivided Christianity Association, whose mission is dedicated to the spiritual and cultural heritage of universal Christian significance, has paved a cultural route through this holy place for many Christians, inextricably linked to the work, life and blood of the great enlightener," said Yuri Belenky.

Miguel Palacio spoke about the cultural route "Holy Places of Undivided Christianity," and explained why the first event in the series of cultural and educational meetings was the round table "The Book Heritage of Archpriest Alexander Men and its Role in the Development of Inter-Christian Dialogue" in Semkhoz: "It is not by chance, but by providential chance that we hold our first event here, in the blessed land of Sergiev Posad, the land of Radonezh, through which St. Sergius of Radonezh, who in 1969 was included by a decree of Pope Paul VI in the list of saints venerated by the Roman Catholic Church, passed. <...> Ekaterina Yuryevna Genieva was fond of repeating a quote whose author is not exactly known: "Our earthly partitions do not reach heaven. Our project "Holy Places of Undivided Christianity" is intended to remind us of this and to show by concrete examples, using cultural and tourist tools, that this is indeed true. Father Alexander Men, not only through his books and sermons, but also through his daily life and service to God, showed that earthly partitions do not reach heaven. And our meeting today is a visible testimony to that.


The speaker emphasized that the Library for Foreign Literature, which coordinates the preparation of an international itinerary of spiritual and cultural monuments of common Christian and pan-European significance, has historically been involved not only in the process of international cultural and humanitarian relations, but also in the study of religious culture and the promotion of interaction between culture and religion. "At present our Library plans to strengthen the work on the development of inter-Christian and inter-religious dialogue by means of culture and book education, and in the future to recreate a separate division that will deal with these issues," shared Miguel Palacio.

"It's great that very close initiatives are appearing in different places, such as the project of the cultural route 'Holy Places of undivided Christianity' and our exhibition 'Saints of the undivided church'. (iconic images of the saints of the first millennium of Christianity)," stressed Irina Yazykova in her speech. "This topic is certainly important, and it should be developed and people should be educated, because very often people are more aware of the differences between the traditions of different branches of Christianity, and not about what connects us – and there is much more," Andrei Yeremin talked about Father Alexander's attitude to the rapprochement of the different branches of Christianity and quoted the minister from one sermon: "The death covenant of Christ is well known to us Christians, and anyone in the Bible can read these words spoken when Jesus prayed before His death, May they all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be one in us."

"This is the thought of Christ. This is His covenant. That covenant has been broken. "Broken quite obviously, for objective reasons," said Andrei Alexeevich. – Everyone is to blame, each in his own way: the people of the West say that the East is more to blame for its pride, the people of the East say that the West is more to blame for its overbearing, and so on. But the fact that the covenant is broken is obvious. That is why, if the Church is going through trials, Father Alexander wrote, the reason is our betrayal of the covenant. One of His most important commandments, "let all be one," has been broken since apostolic times. Therefore, the problem of unity is not the fashion of the twentieth century, but an enduring demand addressed to all of us. Consequently, for all believers this issue is relevant and extremely important.


Igor Lapshin shared that he was lucky enough to make a small contribution to the preservation of the memory of Father Alexander – he was appointed secretary of the editorial board of the collection of works of Archpriest Alexander Men, published by the Moscow Patriarchate Publishing House: "We published the first volume in 2015, its presentation was held in the Library for Foreign Literature and here, in the Cultural Center "Dubrava". The events were dedicated to the 80th anniversary of Archpriest Alexander Men and the 20th anniversary of his death.

At the conclusion of the event, Miguel Palacio and Archpriest Victor Grigorenko signed a memorandum on the inclusion of Sergius Church in Semkhoz into the Association "Holy Places of Undivided Christianity. The Semkhoz memorial sites – part of the trail of St. Sergius of Radonezh and the pilgrimage route from Moscow to the Abbot's abode in Russia, the museum, the house, the chapel of St. Sergius, and the Chapel of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist on the site of Father Alexander Men's murder – will become points on the pan-European cultural route.


The project "Cycle of regional events in the cultural and educational program route "Holy Places of undivided Christianity" will continue in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kaliningrad, Vladimir and other regions.

August 4, 2021

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