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9146Orthodox Chinese Celebrated Pascha in Beijing

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  • Nelson Mitrophan Chin
    May 1, 2008

      originally published in Russian by RIA Novosti
      April 27, 2008
      English Translation by Igor Radev

      Orthodox Chinese Celebrated Pascha in Beijing

      Beijing, April 27th — RIA Novosti, Kira Pozdnyaeva. Around 30 Orthodox
      Chinese from Beijing, Harbin and Shanghai celebrated Pascha with a lay
      service (without participation of priests) at the Roman Catholic
      cathedral of St Archangel Michael in the capital of the People's
      Republic of China, as reported by the correspondent of RIA Novosti.

      The Autonomous Orthodox Church of China, formed in 1957, at the
      present moment does not have serving clerics. Approximately 13,000
      citizens of China consider themselves Orthodox, mainly members of the
      Russian ethnic minority living in PRC, as well as Chinese.

      In accordance with the laws of PRC, foreign clerics are limited in the
      possibilities of performing services for the citizens of China on her
      territory. That's why this service was celebrated by a special rite
      for laymen with no participation of a priest.

      Since the Orthodox faithful in Beijing lacked their own prayer house,
      the church for the service was provided by the Catholics.

      In the service, the 81 year old deacon of the Chinese Autonomous
      Church — Evangel Lu, who was born and baptized on the territory of the
      Russian Spiritual Mission in Beijing, specially came from Shanghai for
      the occasion to take part in the service.

      Larger part of the people gathered on the Paschal Service were
      descendents of Cossacks — Albazinians, who carried Orthodoxy onto the
      territory in China at the end of XVII Century, when a group of
      captured Cossacks, defenders of Albazin Fort were brought in Beijing.

      The Chinese Emperor, admiring the courage of these warriors, allotted
      dwellings for them, married them with Chinese wives and provided for a
      church to be opened.

      This became the motive for Peter I to establish the Russian Spiritual
      Mission in Beijing, which for a long time took on itself the role of a
      diplomatic mission of Russia in China and existed till the 50s of XX
      Century, when it was finally closed. On the extensive grounds of the
      Russian Spiritual Mission is now situated the Embassy of Russia in PRC.

      In 1918 there were around 10 000 Orthodox Chinese.

      The Revolution of 1917 in Russia, had ousted hundreds of thousands
      Russian speaking refugees in China. The émigrés built hundreds of
      churches in Beijing, Harbin, Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, Hong Kong,
      Hankou, Tianjin. In 1957, the Orthodox Church in China received its

      The "Cultural Revolution", which was marked by mass demolition of
      churches and cemeteries, desecration of Holy Relics and icons,
      persecution of the faithful, jeopardized the existence of Orthodoxy in
      China. Divine Services stopped to be celebrated for more than 20 years.

      A Revival of Orthodoxy in China has begun in the 80s, when one church
      in Harbin was opened and a church was built in Urumqi.