Russia’s most famous icon moved from museum to church despite protests

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian Orthodox believers marked Trinity Sunday with Russia’s most famous icon moved from a museum to Moscow’s main cathedral despite vehement protests from guards.

Andrei Rublev’s Trinity icon, which has been housed in Moscow’s Tretyakov Gallery since the 1920s, was moved to the Cathedral of Christ the Savior ahead of the holidays by President Vladimir Putin’s personal order.

Putin’s abrupt decision to return the 15th-century icon to the church came despite strong opposition from Tretyakov’s guardians, who warned the icon was too fragile to be moved and needed constant care to prevent deterioration. drastically in his condition.

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill responded by dismissing a senior priest who sided with museum guards in advising to keep the icon in the Tretyakov Gallery.

Kirill led a liturgy in the cathedral on Sunday, which was attended by hundreds of believers, including some officials.

Controversy over the icon continued to swirl on Saturday, when Kirill said it would stay in the cathedral for a year, while the Culture Ministry and the Tretyakov Gallery both said they expected icon to return after two weeks.

In July 2022, the Tretyakov Gallery loaned the icon to the Russian Orthodox Church for several days for display at the Trinity Lavra Cathedral of St. Sergius Monastery in Sergiev Posad where it was originally kept. The museum later said it found 61 negative changes in his condition after his return.

Observers saw Putin’s order to move the icon to the cathedral despite strong protests from museum workers as a reflection of his desire to strengthen ties with the church, which has strongly backed Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine. . Some also interpreted the move as a sign of Putin’s apparent belief in the miraculous power of the icon amid setbacks in the fighting in Ukraine.

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