Metropolitan Hilarion attends the opening of an exhibition dedicated to the 300th anniversary of the Russian Empire
On December 1, 2021 the State Historical Museum opened the “Russian Empire” exhibition.
The new exhibition is a project continuing the series of jubilee events timed to the 150th anniversary of the Historical Museum. The project is realized with the support of the History of Fatherland Foundation, the United Shipbuilding Corporation, and the United Metallurgical Company.
Director of the State Historical Museum Alexey K. Levykin addressed the participants in the opening ceremony with greetings, mentioning in particular that the 300th anniversary of the formation of the Russian Empire was a significant date in the history of our country. He said that it had determined the transition of Russia from a regional power that influenced the northeastern part of Europe to the power that began to determine the destinies of entire Europe, which was, in fact, of the whole world.
After that, addressing the participants was Sergey Ye. Naryshkin, chairman of the Russian Historical Society and director of the Foreign Intelligence Service of the Russian Federation. He said that the exhibition dedicated to the 300th anniversary of the proclamation of the Russian Empire, with several hundred amazing exhibits on the display, “is a wonderful gift to all who love our great history.”
“The successors to Peter the Great were able to develop a strong political mechanism to ensure the balance of interests between the center of the Empire and its periphery, while the class-inclusive idea of service to the Fatherland united very different ethnic groups and confessions. Unfortunately, two centuries afterwards, for reasons beyond one’s control, the Empire gave up its place to other forms of national statehood. Certainly, it is impossible to overestimate those two centuries of the imperial history of Russia as far as the development of Russian statehood and the formation of Russian national character are concerned,” said the chairman of the Russian Historical Society.
Ms Alla Yu. Manilova, State Secretary and Deputy Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation, said that over the past few years the Museum had presented a great many of brilliant and successful expositions, including those jointly organized with the museums of Italy and Germany, with the Louvre, the Hermitage, and the Russian Museum. “No doubt, the present exhibition stands out as a priority in the presentation program of the Museum this year. Its 400 artifacts dating back to the period of the Russian Empire will leave no person indifferent, neither specialists, nor anyone who loves history,” she said.
After that, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations, greeted the participants in the ceremony on behalf of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and said: “An exhibition we are opening today is very remarkable as it is dedicated to the period of Russian history that is rightfully viewed as its heyday with strong economic growth, political potential increase, brilliant military victories, and expansion of national borders.
“However, for the Russian Orthodox Church this period was marked by the abolition of the Patriarchate. The head of the state became the head of the Church, exercising control over it through his Ober-Procurator. Any decision on the appointment or awarding of bishops was taken on behalf of His Imperial Majesty. Patriarchs of the Eastern Churches addressed the Sacred Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church as “dear sister in Christ” because “synod” is a feminine noun in the Greek language.
“We often criticize this period in the life of the Church because it was deprived of many important church attributes such as the Patriarch’s governance and independent administration. However, we should not forget that those times were a heyday for the Russian Orthodox Church, too, as it took every chance that came along and enjoyed a considerable degree of freedom, because the state of which it was a part and which was controlling it was an Orthodox state. Therefore, there was a certain symphony [harmonious relationship] between the Church and the state.
“This period for the Church was marked by the growing number of parishes and monasteries, and the life and ministry of such eminent persons as St. Seraphim of Sarov, St. Philaret of Moscow, and St. John of Kronstadt. That is why we recall that period of the Russian history with profound gratitude to God.
“As the borders of the Russian Empire were expanding, the mission of the Church on the new territories was expanding, too. Established at those times have been the Japanese Orthodox Church, the Chinese Orthodox Church, and the missions of the Russian Orthodox Church in the Far East and Alaska. These are remarkable and glorious pages in the continuing history of our Church.
“Suffice it to say that Russia has long ago left Alaska, but Orthodox churches are still there, and the Orthodox Church continues to develop. Suffice to add that the Japanese Orthodox Church founded at the second half of the 19th century by St. Nicholas of Japan Equal-to-the-Apostles survives and keeps expanding.
“I would like to wish all of us the interesting and enlightening encounter with the exhibition. I wish you health as we are going through tough times, and may the Lord keep us from all evil.”
Addressing those present were also Dmitry Yu. Vasilenko, first deputy chair of the Federation Council Committee on Science, Education and Culture; Ms Natalya Yeremina, president of the United Metallurgical Company; and Ms Jahan Pollyeva, deputy general director of the United Shipbuilding Corporation.
After that, Mr. Alexey K. Levykin, director of the State Historical Museum, led a tour of the exhibition for the participants in the ceremony.
The exhibition is showing key moments from history of the Russian Empire and related to its political and territorial status basic problems and specific features, such as the authoritarian power, vast territory, multinational population, significant socio-economic potential, a strong regular army as a guarantor of national security, and Church as a social and spiritual pillar of the state. Many of the 400 exhibits are displayed for the first time.
The first section of the exhibition is dedicated to the formation of the Russian Empire in Peter's time and the expansion of its territory during the time of rulers after him. The section displays artifacts of specific historical significance that are related to the victory of Russia in the Great Northern War, which marked the beginning of the formation of the empire. These are models of the ships that played an important part in the history of the Russian fleet, and unique maps of the 18th- early 20th centuries, showing the territorial expansion of the state, its administrative structure and the process of exploration of new territories.
The exposition demonstrates ceremonial portraits of Russian Emperors, military and court-dress coats, awards for merit to the Fatherland and Emperor, as well as church utensils and items of church decoration – the indispensible sacramental attributes, emphasizing the inseparability of Orthodoxy and Emperor’s power.
A special section of the exhibition is to tell us about the people of the empire, whose labour and talents were building it up.
A symbolic exhibit in this exposition is one of the main imperial regalia – a replica of the Great Imperial Crown – made available for the display by the Gokhran of Russia.
The exhibition will be open till March 1, 2022.
DECR Communication Service