WESTERN EUROPEAN DIOCESE: July 20, 2012
The Feast Day of Luxembourg’s SS Peter and Paul Church is Marked by a Hierarchal Service
Russian Orthodox Christians in Luxembourg have for 30 years now possessed a gift from God—their own church, with iconostasis and cupolas, icons of the saints and khorugvi [banners], bells ringing on Sundays and processions of the cross on holidays. The dream that the Russians of this Grand Duchy, wedged between France, Germany and Belgium, had nourished for sixty years has been manifested by Protopriest Serge Poukh, who began construction of this church in the late 1970’s, dedicated to the Chief Holy Apostles Peter and Paul.
When Fr Serge remembers those early days, his eyes fill with tears, for the circumstances which preceded the construction of the church were not happy. Born in 1926 in Bulgaria to the emigre family of a Russian officer by the name of Roman Poukh, Serge spent his childhood and youth in Luxembourg, where his parents had settled, being among many of their compatriots who sought work there. On Sundays, Orthodox Christians would gather at each other’s homes for divine services. No one even thought of building a church, most lived out of their suitcases, awaiting the collapse of Bolshevism and their return home. Later, after the war, when the fall of Communist Russia seemed less likely, services were held first in Protestant churches, in the 1960’s, then in Catholic churches, starting in the 1970’s. A second, third and now fourth generation of Russian emigres were born in Luxembourg, without their own church, and without their own Homeland, love for which was instilled in them from their youth, from which they were separated not by geography but by time.
When in 1975, having already been tonsured a reader by St John (Maximovich), Fr Serge prayed fervently before the miracle-working Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God. He had spent many years living in the USA and suffered a serious illness, and he prayed that if he were to be healed, he would strive to build an Orthodox church in gratitude. Selling his house and furniture and receiving a building permit from the Luxembourg authorities, he laid the cornerstone in 1979, and only three years later, having collected donations, some of them very modest, from all over the world, he was able to celebrate the church feast day there.
This was recalled by another eyewitness of those events, His Eminence Archbishop Michael of Geneva and Western Europe, who by custom visited Luxembourg on July 11 and 12, the feast day of SS Peter and Paul. Concelebrating with him this year was Protopriest Stefan Weerts of Brussels; Priest Peter Sturm of Zurich; Priest Georges Machtalere of Luxembourg, along with clergymen of the Western European and other dioceses.
It would seem that since it was a weekday with pouring rain, who would be celebrating? Yet the church was full, the children well dressed, the candle-stands gleaming, joyful faces everywhere, and the choir, led by Reader Konstantin Malinin from Paris, boldly singing Eis polla eti despota. During the reading of the hours, Archbishop Michael ordained George Soloviev to the rank of reader. He then ordained Michael Artzimovich to the rank of subdeacon.