Saturday, August 26, 2006

Russian Cathedral in Flames

Yesterday, the St. Petersburg Troitsky (Trinity) Cathedral was rampaged by a violent fire, destroying its main dome and severely damaging the entire church. Apparently, the blaze started in renovation scaffolding encircling the dome, and firefighters were helpless in their attempts to fight the raging fire due to lack of proper equipment. At least, the bulk of invaluable religious icons and artefacts was saved.

St. Petersburg has now been robbed of the landmark of the Troitsky Cathedral's blue dome. Overlooking one of St. Petersburg's central canals, the Troitsky Cathedral, since its constuction in 1835, was the church of the famous imperial Izmailovsky regiment. The church was renowned for its fine collection of icons, but after the revolution most of its treasures disappeared through looting, until Troitsky was finally closed in 1938.

For long the Cathedral was threatened by demolition by soviet authorities, but in the end it came to use as a warehouse. It was not until 1990 that Troitsky Cathedral was returned to the Russian Orthodox Church. Since then renovation has slowly been underway, which so tragically has now resulted in its partial destruction.

St. Petersburg authorities have already promised that Troitsky Cathedral will be reconstructed within 18 months. Official proclamations that Troitsky will be rebuilt in record time now provoke fears that such haste will put its important cultural and historical values in peril. Therefore, this is perhaps an opportunity for president Putin to show his true devotion to his native city of St. Petersburg by guaranting that Troitsky will really retain its role as a carrier of Russia's national heritage.

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