Patriarch Kirill consecrates major cathedral in Russia’s Far East

On Sunday, Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill consecrated the Trinity Cathedral in the Far Eastern city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. It took almost ten years to build what is now one of the Kamchatka Peninsula's largest cathedrals. Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the five-cupola Trinity Cathedral can simultaneously accommodate at least 1,000 believers. During the Sunday ceremony, Patriarch Kirill expressed hope that the Cathedral will contribute considerably to the Russian Orthodox Church's clout in the region.

Sunday is a special day for the whole of the Kamchatka Peninsula, Patriarch Kirill said, referring to the consecration. The Trinity Cathedral overlooking the Pacific Ocean is something that reflects Russia's national identity and spiritual strength. The time is ripe to gather stones, he goes on to say, urging the strengthening of the Orthodox faith. We should try to restore the building of our faith, which was initiated by our ancestors hundreds of years ago, Patriarch Kirill pointed out.

The 19th century saw the popularization of Christianity on the Kamchatka Peninsula, where a wide array of Orthodox churches was built in the late 1890s. The 1917 Bolshevik Revolution witnessed a turn-around, though, with many churches closed down and demolished. Paganism again turned into a religion of choice for the indigenous population. It was not until the 1990s that another about-face took place on the Kamchatka Peninsula, which saw a restoration of the Orthodox faith. Five churches, including the Trinity Cathedral, were reconstructed at the time. Right now, local Orthodox communities include both Russian and indigenous population, something that is overseen by the Petropavlovsk-Kamchatksky Diocese with the Russian Orthodox Church. Created in 1993, the Diocese has changed greatly since then, Patriarch Kirill said.

There was only one priest at the Diocese during my first visit to the Kamchatka Peninsula in the 1990s, Patriarch Kirill explains. Not now. The Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky Diocese has turned into something that helps us further popularize Orthodox values among local population, Patriarch Kirill says. In this regard, I think, the Trinity Cathedral illustrates the results of post-Soviet missionary activities in the region, Patriarch Kirill added.

He called for more churches to be constructed there in the future, which Patriarch Kirill said will help believers address an array of modern-day challenges. ‘The faith boosts people's morale, helping them stay afloat in times of trouble', he said, pointing to the Trinity Cathedral, which he said will remain an Orthodox stronghold on the Kamchatka Peninsula for years to come.