Русский | Russian Atlantida | Feb 28, 2006
English translation by Katherine Ilachinski

Under the Protection of St Nicholas of Myra

N.P. Razzhigaeva (Omelchuk), city of Chelyabinsk

In 1898, with the beginning of building of city of Harbin the first church has been built on Manchurian ground in honor of St Nicholas, "a speedy helper and intercessor of all who flock to him". Located in the Old Harbin area, it was wooden, small and modestly decorated. When it was transferred to a new more comfortable building in 1926, they erected a chapel on the site of the old church, having retained its name of St Nicholas.

The First St Nicholas
Church in Old Harbin

Writer Elena Petrovna Taskina recollects: "Many times I happen to be under its arches. Many years have passed since then, I still remember this atmosphere of solemn silence and something heart aching native…Inside was traditional, but modestly painted iconostasis… Through stained-glass windows multi-colored rays of light from above would break through. Lighted icon lamps in front of icons, flickering in twilight candles… Sensation of height, light and open space… All breathed of Russia, with its ancient traditions… "(Taskina E.Unknown Harbin.M, 1994. Page. 34.).

The unique architectural structure has been recognized as a symbol of the city. Constructed in less than a year, where decorating work was made also by the Chinese masters, the cathedral has been destroyed suddenly in the Cultural Revolution in 1966. But memory of this relic is alive, by the Russian disseminated throughout the world, and by the Chinese living in Harbin.

In 1903, to the beginning of constant operation of KVZhD, in Harbin the station building has been constructed. Remembering that St Nicholas is the patron for all wandering and travelling, in the waiting room of Harbin station has been established a big, beautifully decorated kiot (housing around the icon) with the icon of Saint Nicholas, before it the icon lamp burned. Before departure passengers did not forget to approach the icon to cross themselves and light a candle.

Chinese sitting in the hall respected the icon, and named St Nicholas in broken Russian "station elder". Later the icon has been transferred from the station to St Iveron chapel at the cathedral. The great relic has been ruthlessly destroyed by hongweibing together with the cathedral.

In the station at kiot of St Nicholas
(Vladika Nestor)

In 1908 in Harbin was erected the Holy Iveron military church, one of its annex bored the name of St Nicholas the Wonder Worker of Myra.

He was often depicted on icons with a sword in the right hand, as the savior "from an enemy attack ". The ancient compiler of the life of St Nicholas wrote, that he "saved from sword attack". Both young and older people prostrate before him, praying for protection for themselves, their children and relatives.

In 1923 behind the Songhua River in Jiangbei they have started to erect with support of parishioners a small St Nicholas church. It was completed in 1928; being made of stone, white, shining in water reflection. In the court yard behind the altar violets were blossoming in spring, as a Jiangbei inhabitant Nadezhda Nikolaevna Klipinitser (Ivanov) recollects. The Sound of bells melodiously floated above open water spaces, calling parishioners to cozy, standing in trees' greens, church.

In 1928 a church dedicated to St Nicholas was built in Harbin's prison. He was close to people, as the defender of all suffering, the fallen and unjustly condemned. To him it was easier to address prayer about repentance, and prisoners hoped for the aid "of the deliverer from prison and dungeons".

St Nicholas Church
in Jiangbei during
Flooding of 1932

In 1916 the first Harbin Russian Real School has opened, whose heavenly patron was St Nicholas. In the assembly hall of the school hung a big icon of the prelate. The school kept the best national traditions in their pupils, imparting love to Fatherland.

In 1929 in Harbin was founded a St. Nicholas's Lyceum for boys. In its walls there was a church in which was a place of repose of St Nicholas with sacred relics. The lyceum has brought up whole generation of highly educated, fair and decent young men.

Many Orthodox temples in Manchuria also bored the name of St Nicholas. So on East line of KVZhD at Aihe station [in Mudanjiang] there was a St Nicholas church (1921). Besides at stations Yablonya [present-day Yabuli](1934) and Border (1901) there were the temples, devoted to his sacred name. On Western line of KVZhD there was in Zhalantun a St Nicholas church (1915), at Anda station- SS Nicholas-Alexis church. In southern direction of KVZhD at Kuancheng station [in Changchun] there was also a St. Nicholas church.

Tianjin and Shanghai cities of China had temples dedicated to St Nicholas; the latter temple has been constructed in memory of executed Tsar Nikolai II.

In 1990 the St Nicholas temple in city of Urumqi, Xinjiang province was completed under the insistence of community of three-thousand Russians living there. (Priest Dionisy Pozdnyaev. Orthodoxy in China. M., 1998. Page 261.).

Saint Nicholas was a great saint (who did many heroic deeds), "showing the flock an image of humility, absence of meanness and love to people ". He does not leave his protection from Russia and all of us who lived earlier under his heavenly protection.