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Eastern Christianity

Russian Orthodox Church

Doctrines On all major issues the Russian Orthodox Church is in agreement with other Eastern Orthodox churches. (See Eastern Orthodoxy.)

History Christianity was brought to Russia by Byzantine missions in the ninth century. In 989 Prince Vladimir of Kiev was baptised, and Christianity was declared the official faith of Russia. In the fourteenth century the See was moved to Moscow as result of the Mongolian invasion of Kiev. When the Byzantine Church and the Roman Catholic Church sought reunion through the Council of Florence (1439), Moscow severed itself from Constantinople.
The fall of Constantinople in 1453 to the Ottomans enhanced the status of the Russian church. In 1589 the Church of Russia was officially recognised as an independent patriarchate. Between 1721 and 1917 the office of patriarch was abolished, and the Russian monarchy ruled the church. In 1917 the patriarch was restored. During the Soviet era the activities of the church were severely curtailed. The church was denied any educational role and missionary activities were prohibited. Many churches were destroyed and clergy hostile to the regime were deported or executed. The dissolution of the Soviet system in 1991 has led to a renewal of church life in Russia. In May 1991 the Russian Orthodox Church announced plans to begin building 542 new churches throughout Russia.

Symbols Festal icons, Mary as Theotokos, Christ as Pantocrator. (See Eastern Orthodoxy.)

Adherents There are an estimated 35 million adherents of Russian Orthodoxy in the Russian Federation (Europa Publications Limited 1995, 2:2580).

Main Centre
 Moscow Patriarchate, 113191 Moscow, Danilov Monastery, Danilovsky val. 22; tel. (095) 954-04-54; fax (095) 230-26-19.