Delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia Returns
From Escorting the Remains of General Denikin and Ivan Ilyin
At the end of last week, the trip to Russia made by Archbishop Mark
of Berlin and Germany and the delegation of the Russian Church Abroad
escorting the remains of General Anton Denikin and Ivan Ilyin concluded.
The delegation included Protopriest Pavel Tsvetkov, Senior Priest
of the Elevation of the Cross Cathedral in Geneva; Protopriest Peter
Holodny, Treasurer of the Synod of Bishops; Priest Serafim Gan,
personal secretary of the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox
Church Outside of Russia and Vladimir K Galitzine, Warden of the
Cathedral of Our Lady of the Sign at the Synod of Bishops in New
From September 28-October 3, an historic and profoundly symbolic
event took place for all Russians who found themselves outside the
borders of their Homeland against their will, and for those who
for decades were forcibly separated from their Orthodox faith, culture
and historical truth. The remains of General Anton I Denikin of
the White Army and the ideologue of the White Movement, Ivan A Ilyin,
along with those of their spouses, were reburied at Donskoy Monastery
This project was initiated by the Russian Cultural Fund and received
the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Alexy of Moscow and All Russia,
and the approval of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Synod
of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, headed
by His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus, lovingly responded to this
idea, with the Synod blessing a delegation to participate in every
phase of this project. The relatives and executors of the reposed
prepared all the documents needed for the reburials, thereby fulfilling
the wishes of the loyal sons and daughters of the God-preserved
Fatherland to have their bodies being returned to be with Russia
and her people.
In 2002 the Russian Cultural Fund began filming "Russians without
Russia," the first part of which, "Russian Choice,"
was devoted to the Civil War, the retreat of the White soldiers
and their fates abroad. This movie, which first told the historical
truth about the White Movement, its heroes and participants to the
Russian people, was broadcast in December 2003, as the first phase
in the return to Russia of her warrior-defender and her philosopher.
The grave of General Denikin at St Vladimir Cemetery in Jackson,
NJ, was filmed for the movie in March 2002, and in August, the first
negotiations began with the local authorities on the reburial of
his remains. After overcoming many obstacles, on September 23 of
this year, the exhumation of his remains was performed; these were
placed into a temporary wooden coffin. The coffin was then sealed
in the presence of Russian and French diplomatic consuls.
Over 40 people were in attendance during the exhumation, including
representatives of émigré organizations. A pannikhida was performed
beforehand by Protopresbyter Valery Lukianov along with other clergymen
of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, and during the
exhumation, the local hierarch of the Orthodox Church in America,
Bishop Gregory, who is retired, served, along with the rector of
the cemetery church dedicated to the Nativity of the Mother of God.
Before the opening of the coffin, the cemetery director asked the
press and guests to stand back and not to photograph the remains.
The sole exception was allowed to the representative of the Russian
Cultural Fund, which made photographs for their archives.
Entirely unexpected was the condition of the remains. The director
of the local funeral administration warned beforehand that little
would survive of the body of a person who died in 1947. As it turned
out, the body miraculously survived, in its military uniform, and
the familiar features of the White general looked as though he were
only recently buried.
On Wednesday, September 28, the coffin was delivered to the Cathedral
of Our Lady of the Sign in New York, where at noon a pannikhida
was performed with the participation of local representatives of
Russian émigré socities, the Synodal men's choir under the direction
of the young and talented Peter A Fekula, along with the choir of
Sretensky Monastery which had arrived from Moscow the evening before
with the Russian delegation. A sermon on the significance of the
White Movement and on the historical path of the Russian diaspora
was delivered by Priest Serafim Gan before the service began. After
the pannikhida in the Synodal Building, a commemorative trapeza
was offered during which Protopriest Peter Holodny spoke, as did
the director of the Presidential Programs of the Russian Cultural
Fund, EN Chavchavadze. The Sretensky Choir also sang spiritual and
folk music during the reception. As a display of the friendly and
elevated emotion of the day, the cadets and Synodal choir sang the
songs "Borodino" and "Veshchii Oleg" together.
At the end of the trapeza, the coffin was delivered to St Nicholas
Cathedral of the Moscow Patriarchate, where a pannikhida was performed
by Bishop Merkury of Zaraisk.
That day, at Resurrection Church in Zurich, a pannikhida was performed
for Ivan and Natalia Ilyin by the clergymen of the Moscow Patriarchate.
Their remains were then taken to Geneva, where Protopriest Peter
Tsvetkov headed a pannikhida at the Elevation of the Cross Cathedral.
In his eulogy, Fr Peter emphasized the symbolism of this event,
calling it an historical moment in the reconciliation between the
people of Russia and the Russian diaspora. The return to Russia
of the eminent religious thinker of the Russian diaspora, and the
participation of representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate and
of the Russian Church Abroad shows our willingness to achieve the
full unity of the Russian Church, said the Senior Priest of the
His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus prayed during the service, and
also shared his thoughts on these events and pointed to the importance
of a fuller understanding of Russian history.
On September 29, the remains of Ivan and Natalia Ilyin, and of KV
Denikin, who was earlier buried at the Russian cemetery in St-Genevieve-du-Bois
of Paris, were sent to St Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Paris, where
the body of General Denikin arrived the next day. Here Archbishop
Gabriel, Exarch of the Russian Orthodox Churches in Western Europe,
headed the pannikhida. In the overfilled cathedral, Archbishop Mark
of Berlin and Germany prayed, along with Bishop Agapit of Stuttgart,
the General's daughter Maria Antonovna Denikina, the Russian Ambassador
in Paris, AA Avdeev, representatives of Russian émigré organizations
and a multitude of worshipers.
At four o'clock, a reception was held at the Embassy, at which the
Ambassador addressed the guests, saying, in part:
"Eminent archpastors, deeply-esteemed Marina Antonovna, dear
"Today is a special day for us: not only we but all the Russian
people will remember. This is a joyous day because everything is
now coming full circle, though slowly, the difficult process of
unification into one nation of scattered families, generations and
fates. We gradually emerge from extinction at the hands of the horrible
totalitarian system, and we justly rewrite our history, we rewrite
it in a good sense. Of greatest importance is that we have embarked
upon this path and we pay our respects to our remarkable and great
Russian figures, who had laid their lives on the line in the name
of Russia' greatness, her unity, in the name of Orthodoxy.
"I remember the day when you, Marina Antonovna, along with
Elena Nikolaevna Chavchavadze and Nikita Sergeevich Mikhalkov, came
up with the idea of reburying Anton Ivanovich Denikin in Russia.
You not only planted this idea in us, this great thought, but you
gave to Russia treasured archives and documents relating to the
live of Anton Ivanovich, and you authored a book, an honest, remarkable
book on your father. It has just been published, and I wish to present
it to you all. The book is called 'General Denikin—Memoirs of a
"I extend heartfelt thanks to you, Marina Antonovna, and all
the participants of today's celebration."
Then the Sretensky Choir sang Russian folk songs and spiritual compositions.
At the end of the reception, Ambassador Avdeev thanked the staff
and servants of the Embassy for their efforts, noting that the great
thinker Ilyin, a fervent patriot and ideologue of the White Movement,
created an economic plan for the development and benefit of an emancipated
Russia, a plan for the education of children and youth of the future
Russia. "Ivan Ilyin and Anton Denikin were devoted to Russia
with their entire souls. These people were portrayed in Soviet textbooks
as traitors, as monsters, and worse than the fascists. We cannot
allow such filth to ever stain the pages of Russian textbooks, may
they no longer serve as a source of lies and slander. And the transfer
of these patriots and heroes back to Russia will help this difficult
but unavoidable process."
It is noteworthy that on this day, the President's Envoy to the
Central Federal District, GS Poltavchenko, expressed the notion
that Lenin's body should finally be removed from the mausoleum and
On October 2, the remains were taken from Paris to Moscow. A special
flight of the government's aviation arm to Vnukovo Airport was met
by Archbishop Arseny of Istrin, Vicar Bishop of the Moscow Diocese.
An honor guard gave the body of General Denikin a military salute,
after which the bodies were taken to Moscow's Donskoy Monastery,
where His Holiness Patriarch Alexy performed the consecration of
the cornerstone of the Memorial to National Reconciliation and headed
the pannikhida at the Monastery's Great Cathedral, after which,
in the presence of government representatives, politicians and eminent
social figures, the remains of General Denikin, Ivan Ilyin and their
spouses were reburied. During the pannikhida, Archbishop Mark of
Berlin and Germany read His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus' greeting,
which said in part:
"While making an archpastoral visit to monasteries and parishes
of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia in Western Europe,
I send this greeting to all the participants in the reburial in
Moscow of the remains of General Anton Denikin and Ivan Ilyin, and
join you in the prayers raised today for the repose of the souls
of our national heroes who fought for Russia and our people: one
who fought with arms, the other with the power of thought. Both
later found themselves abroad, but neither forgot his motherland,
their thoughts always directed towards Russia, and they lived for
her, as did many Russian émigrés."
The honor guard escorted the remains to their final resting place.
Military officers carried 10 battlefield banners brought from Versailles,
where they are kept, and the personal arms of the General. After
the burial of General Denikin, Ivan Ilyin and their wives, shots
of salutation were fired.
The area of the Memorial of National Reconciliation and Concord
in Donskoy Monastery now contains the graves of five celebrated
Russian émigrés. The first of these was the author Ivan Shmelev.
The following day, at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, Archbishop
Mark participated in the opening of an exhibited devoted to the
life and history of the Polish Orthodox Church.