The history of the Russian Orthodox Church was and always will be be an integral part of Russian history. Since 988 when Prince Vladimir adopted Christianity in Kievan Rus’ the Church was one of the most powerful institutions in the country. Even today when the Russian Federation is a secular state, many of its citizens regularly attend services. At the same time the need of openness from the Church to public made it necessary to organize exhibitions explaining its role in the modern society.
The first exhibition called ”Orthodox Rus was held in 1995 and this year it celebrated its 20th anniversary. It is no more a local event but an exhibition of international dimensions. That’s why this time it took place in one of the pavilions of Lenexpo – a huge exhibition centre situated on the St Basil’s Island. More than 200 secular and church organizations from Russia, Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia, Greece, and Montenegro participated in the event. According to the last figures, it attracted 25,000 visitors from Eastern and Central Europe.
The focal point of the event was the service held by bishop Markell and dedicated to the holy relics of Sergius of Radonezh – one of the most revered Saints in Russia. His relics were transferred from the Holy Trinity Saint Sergius Monastery situated not far from Moscow. Sergius of Radonezh lived in the 14th century and played a great spiritual role in the protection of Russia against Tatar-mongols. In 1380 he blessed Prince Dmitri before the battle on Kulikovo field which was decisive for the future of Medieval Russia, a first step to independence from the Golden Horde. The relics were then transferred to the Kronstadt Naval Cathedral and the Church of Our Lady the Merciful in St Petersburg.
The exhibition was a great opportunity to see a wide range of church activities. Production of icon painting, gold-embroidery, jewellery, and book shops was shown to the public. Besides that, there were different roundtable discussions on the position of physically challenged people in the Church, folklore concerts, and a workshop on birch bark crafts. All this helps visitors to learn more about the modern Russian Orthodox Church and therefore about Russian history.