18th century orthodox shrines stored in Norilsk museum
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18th century orthodox shrines stored in Norilsk museum

June 26, 2020

The Museum of Norilsk stores a porcelain lamp and an old sacred book saved from death 100 years ago.

The liturgical book, Oktoih, is at least 260 years old. The leather-bound tome came into the museum’s collection in 1995.  It can be seen in the current exhibition, in the section dedicated to the development of the North, next to the icon of the patron saint of travelers and sailors Nikolai the Wondermaker and the lamp of the same age as the Oktoikh.

The book for daily worship belonged to the Turukhansk Holy Trinity Church for some time, then it was transferred to the Khatanga Church, where it was used, presumably, until the 1917 revolution.  There are notes on the margins of the book, made by one person and the date: 1841 August 8 day” in the same handwriting on one of the pages.

Photo: Anna Rahmatulina
The porcelain lamp

 In the first years of Soviet power, the Khatanga temple was looted, the building was given up for housing, and a hairdresser worked in the altar.  Miraculously, the Oktoih survived and was kept by the monk Dimitri (Dmitry Rashevsky) from Dudinka.

 The porcelain lamp with the image of an angel made in the first half of the 18th century,  belonged to the cathedral in the name of the of the Holy Virgin Intercession of the Tobolsk Kremlin from 1746.  Similar lamps are usually placed in front of the Last Supper icon over the royal gates of the iconostasis.  After the closing of the cathedral, the angel was preserved and restored by one of the parishioners.  In the 1920s, he traded a lamp for food;  decades later it got to Dudinka.  In 1995, the last owner of the rarities Dmitry Rashevsky handed over the Oktoikh and the porcelain lamp to the Norilsk Museum.

Photo: Anna Rahmatulina
The sacred book Oktoih

 A large role in the fact that the unique church items were included into the collection of the museum specializing in the Norilsk industrial region history was played by the researcher Natalya Shur in 1990s.  It was she who, having studied the text of the Oktoikh, established its dating.  The experts of the Dudinskaya Church  just dated the book to the middle of the 18th century but Natalya Shur payed attention to the words: “… We will also pray for the pious autocratic Great Sovereign, our Empress Elizabeth Petrovna of all Russia, for power, victory and other things, we still pray for  her heir, the grandson of Peter the Great … and of the Blessed Sovereign Grand Duke Pavel Petrovich”.

The researcher estimated that Pavel Petrovich was born in September 1754, and Elizaveta Petrovna died in December 1761.  Consequently, the book was printed by the Moscow Printing House between the two dates.  She also payed her attention to the fact that the Oktoikh was printed in two colors, without illustrations, with a small number of vignettes.  This means that the publication was not intended for the metropolitan cathedral.

Miraculously saved and surviving to our time, the unique Oktoih and the lamp were the first Orthodox artefacts in the history of the Norilsk Museum.  It is symbolic that the first temple in the northern city’s history was being constructed at that time.  The first prayer in honor of the future cathedral construction took place a year later, on the day of the Holy God’s Mother Icon of All Grieving Joy on November 6, 1996.

Text: Valentina Vachaeva

June 26, 2020

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