Eminence Metropolitan Laurus Heads the Consecration of St Nicholas
Chapel at the Cathedral of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of
Russia in Munich
On the feast day of the Translation of the Relics of St Nicholas
of Myra the Wonderworker, the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox
Church Outside of Russia, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus of Eastern
America and New York, performed the consecration of St Nicholas
Chapel of the Munich Cathedral, along with His Eminence Archbishop
Mark of Berlin and Germany, His Eminence Archbishop Kyrill of San
Francisco and Western America, His Grace Bishop Gabriel of Manhattan,
His Grace Bishop Michael of Boston, His Grace Bishop Agapit of Stuttgart,
the clergymen of the Cathedral and visiting clergymen, with an enormous
number of faithful in attendance. On this day, His Grace Bishop
Ambroise of Vevey officiated at services at the Russian Orthodox
Church in Bari.
During World War II, Orthodox services of the German diocese were
performed in the historic church Salvatorkirche in the center of
town. Divine services were held in Slavonic and, in part, in Greek,
since the church traditionally belonged to a Greek community. After
the war, this church was transferred in its entirety to the Greek
community, but since the number of Russian faithful there was enormous,
a parish dedicated to St Nicholas was organized next to Salvatorkirche,
in a large hall of a music school, one of 14 parishes of the Russian
Orthodox Church Outside of Russia in post-war Munich. The Synod
of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia was
also based in Munich at the time, headed by Metropolitan Anastassy
(Gribanovsky, +1965) of blessed memory.
After the massive exodus of Russians from Bavaria to the countries
across the Atlantic, the number of parishes in Munich began to diminish.
The Synod departed for the USA in November, 1950. St Nicholas Parish
had the largest space for worship, and after the death of His Eminence
Archbishop Benedict (Bobkovsky, +1951), the new head of the Diocese
of Berlin and Germany, Archbishop Alexander (Lovchy, +1973), made
the church his cathedral on May 9/22, 1952.
At the end of the 1970's, a young generation of Russian Orthodox
Christians began gathering funds to build this church and to seek
out a site for it in Munich. After the glorification of the Holy
New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia in November, 1981, it was decided
that the future church should be dedicated to these newly-canonized
saints, but it was decided that it was not appropriate to forget
the protector so dear to the Russian heart, St Nicholas, and that
one altar or a chapel was to be dedicated to him. For years, the
efforts to purchase a plot of land for the church were fruitless,
until 1993, when a site was obtained with a church belonging to
an American military base in the south of Munich. When the American
Army left Germany after its unification, Russian Orthodox faithful,
with God's help, were able to take advantage of the situation and
in December 1993, finally, obtained their own church. The newly-acquired
church, built in the basilica style, needed interior renovation
first. On the feast day of the New Martyrs, February 6, 1994, a
stone with a decree was laid into the eastern wall, and a cross
was erected in the middle of the altar. The necessary work on the
interior was completed by Pentecost. On Sunday, June 12, the first
solemn hierarchal service was held in the church.
The northern portion of the church first served as a storage area
out of necessity, in which it was difficult to construct an altar
and iconostasis for services. But by the end of 1995, the time came
for the chapel of St Nicholas. It was decided to completely remove
the northern wall and widen the interior by a third, to build an
apse on the eastern side, and on the western side, where the entrance
was simply a concrete booth, to set up a narthex, and in the future
to construct the main entrance in the style of a Pskovian bell tower.
In March, 1997, Archbishop Mark performed the minor consecration
as soon as the iconostasis was ready. At the same time as the chapel
was being expanded, further work on the south side was being performed:
the concrete entrances to the refectory were removed and the construction
in their place of classrooms, a wooden balcony to the refectory
and an expanded kitchen.
The planning of the external view of the church was performed by
a parishioner, the architect VA Esikovsky (now the Parish Warden).
The technical work was headed by architect Herbert Krach. The roof
of St Nicholas Chapel was covered in copper, with woodwork over
the apse executed by G Rushchak, as was the crowning of the doorway
in which a gilded steel eight-pointed cross was erected. On Great
Wednesday in 1998, the cupola and cross over the chapel, donated
by the Tittmann family, was consecrated.
The frescoes were painted by Tamara Sikoev, wife of Priest Andrei
Sikoev of the Berlin parish.
All these years, until this day, services are performed at St Nicholas
Chapel on weekdays, minor feasts and during Great Lent. The chapel
also holds services in German with a German-language choir. Baptisms,
molebens, pannikhidas, unctions over the sick and other services
are held there as well.
At the end of the divine services on the day of the great consecration
of St Nicholas Chapel, Archbishop Mark expressed his gratitude to
His Eminence the First Hierarch, the archpastors, clergymen and
all those who helped organize and conduct this celebration
The following days, a regular session of the Synod of Bishops of
the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia was held at the Cathedral,
ending with a pilgrimage to the site of the repatriation of the
Cossacks on the Drawa River near the city of Lienz, to mark the
60th anniversary of that tragic event.