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

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Montgeron's children

After the Second World War, in 1953, Sophie Zernov created in the neo-Gothic castle of the XIX century, known under the name of "Moulin de Senlis" in Montgeron in the Paris region, a Russian orphanage, welcoming orphans and children from families in difficulty, which housed up to 100 children.

Sophie Zernov (1899 Moscow - 1972 Paris) was secretary general of the Christian Action of Russian Students from 1926 to 1931. She was also secretary of the I.R.O (International Bureau for Aid to Refugees) from 1948 to 1951.

Sophie Zernov buys the Moulin de Senlis building by raising funds in Russian circles (15 million francs at the time). The building was in poor condition and without electricity. A retired Russian electrician, Klavdi Petrovitch Tourtchanoff, volunteered for a year, living on the premises, to electrify the premises. Charity sales and collections made it possible to partially finance the work. The children settled in 1955.

The orphanage closed 20 years later in 1975. A statue of the "Little Prince" by Saint-Exupéry sculpted by one of the instructors, Elena Vladimirovna Siupljak, remained erected for a long time in the courtyard near a fountain (about the place of the photographer photographing the boat).

The clergy of the Archdiocese ensured the pastoral service of the orphanage. Let us quote Fathers Igor Vernik, Georges Drobot, Grégoire Svetchine, Pierre Alderson. In this context, a church dedicated to Saint Seraphim of Sarov was built by the architect Nikita Kovalenko, the icons and the iconostasis were painted by the monk Gregory (Krug) (1918-1969), a famous icon painter.

Television report on the Montgeron orphanage in 1968