Centenary of the Archdiocese of Orthodox Churches of Russian Tradition in Western Europe

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Church of the Resurrection of Christ in Grenoble

1922: The founding of the Church

The Russian Orthodox Church of the Resurrection of Christ in Grenoble was founded by a layman, Dmitry Alexeevich Ivanoff. Evacuated from Sevastopol at the same time as tens of thousands of his Russian compatriots, civilians and soldiers, the former officer Dimitri Ivanoff, upon his arrival in Grenoble, created a charity association to come to the aid of the wounded and the sick. He found a room that served as a warehouse for market gardeners in the basement of a building at 5 avenue de Vizille. It is this place that will become the Orthodox Church of the Resurrection of Christ in Grenoble. D. Ivanoff, mobilized Father Nicolas Michine who traveled regularly from Lyon for the celebration of religious services. The first services were also celebrated at the Greek school of the Greek Church (boulevard Joseph Vallier) and at the Protestant temple (2 rue Fourier), by Father Nicolas Soboleff. The liturgical song was also provided by Mr. Ivanoff, who created for this the first Russian choir in the region.

The Russian Church of the Resurrection of Christ in Grenoble came under the jurisdiction of Metropolitan Euloge on February 20, 1928. Mgr. Euloge sent Father Léontchoukoff to administratively found the parish of Grenoble, where Father Nicolas Ezersky was appointed, after the Declaration of the Russian Orthodox Cultual Association (law of 1901) to the prefecture of Grenoble, on February 8, 1928.

The Church of the Resurrection of Christ in Grenoble successively welcomed three waves of Russian emigrants.

From 1927 to 1929,

The Russian community of Grenoble (around 500 people) grew thanks to a flow of Russian emigrants passing through Bulgaria, who settled there to work in the reinforced concrete factories of the COTRAB (Company of Workers of the White Army) . They were accommodated at the Polygone, or at the Viscose, in the city of Beauvert, or in town.

The Grenoble region also experienced a boom in communities originating from the Russian Empire. Several Russian emigrants worked in the BEFK paper mills in Rives (site closed in 2011). The Rioupéroux electro-metallurgical plant employed large numbers of Russians in the Romanche valley. In 1925, in Rioupéroux, an Orthodox Saint-Tikhon-de-Zadonsk chapel was inaugurated, served by the clergy of Grenoble until 1959. In Rives, at the Château de l'Orgère, under the obedience of the Russian Church. Borders, an Orthodox chapel also opened, which closed in 1980. By decision of Metropolitan Euloge, the rector of Grenoble was also to serve the Orthodox communities of Ugine in Savoy, and Argentière-la-Bessée in the department of Hautes-Alpes, where many workers of Russian origin still lived. Many of the faithful from all these communities in industrial areas, passing through Grenoble, were able to go to the Church of the Holy Resurrection.

Between 1931 and 1940,

The emigration from the Russian Empire was welcomed at the parish of the Church of the Resurrection of Christ in Grenoble by Fr. Georges Choumkine (1894-1964), endowed not only with pastoral talents, but also capable of creating, thanks to to artists and cultivated people of his community, a high level cultural influence. Rector of the parish, with his Matushka Anna Gueorguievna, both take care of catechesis, found a school of Russian language and literature, welcome Russian students to their house in La Tronche, organize dances, theatrical performances, folk songs and a Christmas tree.

Parishioners offered icons: that of the Holy Savior and the Mother of God were painted by Tatiana Victorovna, sister of the president of the Red Cross, Xenia Victorovna Brunard. The icon of St Alexander Nevsky was painted in 1933 by Maria Schulz, of Romanian nationality.

A great friend of Father Georges Choumkine, the painter Dimitri Stelletsky painted in 1938 the iconostasis of the Church of the Resurrection of Christ in Grenoble.

Friend of Dimitri Stelletsky, Igor Stravinsky, whose daughters both followed in Grenoble, one, Mika, of painting on fabric at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, the other, Milène, of sewing and cooking. among the sisters, frequented the parish and created several works in the region. It is very likely that the composer Serge Prokofiev, a friend of Stravinsky's and staying in the region, visited the Russian Church in Grenoble.

From 1941 to 1946

Father Nicolas Maloletinkoff was rector of the parish of Grenoble, whose difficulties increased during the war of 1939-1945, as everywhere in France. The clash between the pro-Soviets and the anti-Soviets divided the Church of the Resurrection of Christ community. Ultimately, the parish remained under the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese. Father Roman (Zolotoff) was appointed rector of the parish of Grenoble. Having become bishop of Nice, he will continue his service in Grenoble until his death.

In the months following the Liberation, Soviet soldiers taken prisoner by the Germans and freed in the camps by the Allies arrived in Grenoble. Some returned to the USSR at their peril while others managed to stay and joined the parishioners. But the Russian community began to decline in numbers.

From 1946 to 1962

Father Mikhaïl Firsovsky was the last priest permanently attached to the parish of Grenoble, for lack of financial means. To provide services at least once a month, the Church of Nice sent first the Roman bishop and then Father Jean Jankin.

In 1957 the premises of the Church of the Resurrection of Christ, 5 avenue de Vizille in Grenoble, became the property of the Archdiocese, thanks to the skills and efforts of Warden Dimitri Constantinovich Nikolaïeff, who had succeeded in paying the rent for the war.

From 1962 to 2005: Valentin Matias and his wife Elvire assumed the office of churchwarden of the parish of Grenoble.

Between 1970 and 1974

Galina Makhroff, née Klimoff (1922-2004), painted the frescoes in the Church of the Resurrection of Christ, representing the twelve Great Feasts of the liturgical year. Born during the exodus in Bulgaria, Galina Klimoff later moved with her family to Grenoble, where she studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts. This allowed him to run a silk painting workshop. In 1949, Galina continued her work in Haute Couture in Paris, at the same time as she was introduced to iconography by the famous iconographer Leonid Alexandrovich Ouspensky, who taught the art of the icon for 40 years to students who had come of the whole world. After having traveled the world and Russia in 1959 and having organized exhibitions of her watercolor paintings with her husband Cyrille Makhroff, Galina returned to Grenoble to pray at the Church of the Resurrection of Christ, where she will paint her frescoes in using the technique known as “al fresco”, at the rate of one scene per day, which had to be produced in less than five hours on a wet surface, made of a mortar of river sand and lime. Galina painted sixteen scenes from the life of Christ and the Mother of God on the walls of the part of the church reserved for the faithful, and behind the altar, Our Lady of the Sign.

Between 1968 and 1985 the Russian Christmas Tree in Grenoble took place in the Morillot room, rue du Vieux Temple, often with the help of the folk group Ivouchka led by Irène Kuttlein, née Pozniak, granddaughter of Russian emigrants, professor of Russian at the Lycée Champollion in Grenoble.

After Perestroika and the fall of the USSR, a third wave of immigration of researchers and scientists settled, temporarily or not, in Grenoble and were welcomed to the parish. In 2004, the Archdiocese sent Fr. André Drobot, who will be appointed rector of the parish in March 2005. Fr. André Drobot comes once a month, except for Christmas and Easter, where he is replaced by another priest. Parish festivals are organized at the theological center of Meylan. A pilgrimage was held in Ugine, in the small Orthodox Church of Saint Nicholas and Saint Alexis of Ugine, in honor of Archpriest Alexis Medvedkoff, canonized in 2003, who had served the region in the 1930s.

February 2020

The Church of the Resurrection in Grenoble received the label "Patrimoine en Isère", awarded by the department of Isère, thanks to the efforts and actions of the members of the association "Safeguarding the Russian Orthodox Church of the Resurrection in Grenoble ”(SMOREG).

While the parishes around Grenoble saw their parishioners leave, the Saint-Alexandre-Nevsky-Sainte-Olga-et-Saint-Vladimir chapel of the Camp of the Vitiaz Association, founded in Laffrey in 1934, was consecrated. its final place is the removable iconostasis painted on canvas by the artist Stelletsky, on vacation at the camp in the 1930s, for a tented chapel. The consecration of this chapel was one of the rare occasions in the diaspora of a concelebration of hierarchs and priests from the two jurisdictions - the Archdiocese and the Russian Church Abroad.

Immediately after the war, the Camp de l'Action Chrétienne des Etudiants Russe (with a tented chapel with another iconostasis by Stelletsky) also set up on the opposite shore of Lake Laffrey, in the village of Saint Théoffrey, until 1989, when ACER bought land at La Servagère, in the Vercors, where a permanent chapel was consecrated.

Links with the parish of Grenoble and the network of Russian communities in Isère were important from the start. Above all, it is thanks to these communities, which had many sections ("droujiny") of the Vitiaz, and their members who know the region well, that the land was found and then exploited near Lake Laffrey, three 15 minutes by bus from Grenoble. During the summers, the camp chaplains were able occasionally to serve spiritual, liturgical and sacramental needs by traveling to Grenoble. Worshipers from Grenoble or the Isère were also able to attend regular camp services. A wedding even took place in the spring of the 1980s.