The Russian Orthodox Church is so concerned about the spiritual well-being of workers in Antarctica that it is sending them a flat pack church and a priest. Here is the story:
– “In early 2002, the Chief of the Russian Antarctic Expedition was received by the Head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexis II. During the discussion they decided to commemorate all the Russians who gave their lives for the sake of study and exploration of the Antarctic. So the Patriarch proposed to build a Russian orthodox church at one of the Russian Antarctic stations. This choice was in full conformity with the Russian historical traditions. The place for construction of the church was selected at Bellingshausen station on King George Island. The Creative workshop of the Architect Anisiforov (First Left at the B&W pic on the R) designed the church. A group of Siberian architects won a national competition to design the church. They built it out of Altay cedar wood, which is considered a precious material, and incorporated 30 types of timber into it – a feature of old Russian churches.
On August 18, 2003, the Patriarch of Russia issued a decree on establishing a Patriarchy podvorie at the Orthodox Temple in Antarctica. The Temple was placed under the Confessor of the Holy Trinity St. Sergius Lavra. The Bishop of Sergiev Posad, Deputy of the Holy Trinity St. Sergius Lavra was requested to designate a priest who will be the father of the temple in the Antarctic.
The church was then dismantled and its different parts numbered and transported to the Kaliningrad port. It took five cars nine days to reach the port, and the parts are now being loaded onto a ship bound for the Antarctic.
It will be more than two months before it reaches its final destination, the Bellingshausen research station on King George Island.The church’s architects will then fly there to help put it back together. Yevgeniy Morozov, who is heading the expedition to the south, said the church would provide extra support for workers there, who usually have only themselves to rely on. He said up to 64 people working in the area have died since Russia started occupying the region “So the Orthodox Church has decided to show some concern for their souls and build this little church.”
Aleksiy II, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, has given the project his blessing and Father Georgy, who has 20 years of experience in the Polar regions, will conduct the services in Antarctica.
Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/3154956.stm .
The Russians did certainly a great good job, with the bless of the Patriarch Aleksiy II. When the Catholic Roman Church will do the same at the Italian Base MZS in Antarctica?
Our hope and our prayers are always in that direction, sure that this dream will materialize one day.