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.