Русский | April 27, 2008
English Translation by Igor Radev

Orthodox Chinese Celebrated Pascha in Beijing

Beijing, April 27thRIA Novosti, Kira Pozdnyaeva. Around 30 Orthodox Chinese from Beijing, Harbin and Shanghai celebrated Pascha with a lay service (without participation of priests) at the Roman Catholic cathedral of St Archangel Michael in the capital of the People's Republic of China, as reported by the correspondent of RIA Novosti.

The Autonomous Orthodox Church of China, formed in 1957, at the present moment does not have serving clerics. Approximately 13,000 citizens of China consider themselves Orthodox, mainly members of the Russian ethnic minority living in PRC, as well as Chinese. 

In accordance with the laws of PRC, foreign clerics are limited in the possibilities of performing services for the citizens of China on her territory. That's why this service was celebrated by a special rite for laymen with no participation of a priest.

Since the Orthodox faithful in Beijing lacked their own prayer house, the church for the service was provided by the Catholics.

In the service, the 81 year old deacon of the Chinese Autonomous Church — Evangel Lu, who was born and baptized on the territory of the Russian Spiritual Mission in Beijing, specially came from Shanghai for the occasion to take part in the service.

Larger part of the people gathered on the Paschal Service were descendents of Cossacks — Albazinians, who carried Orthodoxy onto the territory in China at the end of XVII Century, when a group of captured Cossacks, defenders of Albazin Fort were brought in Beijing.   

The Chinese Emperor, admiring the courage of these warriors, allotted dwellings for them, married them with Chinese wives and provided for a church to be opened. 

This became the motive for Peter I to establish the Russian Spiritual Mission in Beijing, which for a long time took on itself the role of a diplomatic mission of Russia in China and existed till the 50s of XX Century, when it was finally closed. On the extensive grounds of the Russian Spiritual Mission is now situated the Embassy of Russia in PRC.

In 1918 there were around 10,000 Orthodox Chinese.

The Revolution of 1917 in Russia, had ousted hundreds of thousands Russian speaking refugees in China. The émigrés built hundreds of churches in Beijing, Harbin, Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Hankou, Tianjin. In 1957, the Orthodox Church in China received its autonomy.

The "Cultural Revolution", which was marked by mass demolition of churches and cemeteries, desecration of Holy Relics and icons, persecution of the faithful, jeopardized the existence of Orthodoxy in China. Divine Services stopped to be celebrated for more than 20 years.

A Revival of Orthodoxy in China has begun in the 80s, when one church in Harbin was opened and a church was built in Urumqi.