Participants of the All-Diaspora Youth Conference venerate relics of the Hesse region

On Thursday, June 27, 2024, the participants of the 14th All-Diaspora Russian Orthodox Youth Conference and their spiritual guides, His Grace Bishop Job of Stuttgart and clergy from Germany, the USA, Canada, and Australia, visited the wonderful cities of Wiesbaden and Darmstadt.

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Wiesbaden is the administrative center of the federal state of Hesse, one of the oldest resorts in Europe, which has 26 hot and several cold thermal springs; the name Wiesbaden literally means "meadow baths".

The majestic Russian Orthodox Church of St Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist of the Lord, was built here in 1848-1855 and became part of the Berlin and German Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia after Tsar Nicholas II, who visited Wiesbaden with members of the Imperial Court, bought the church in 1896, along with a plot of land and forest, including a cemetery. This event is evidenced by a commemorative golden plaque on the wall of the temple.

The temple was built on Mount Neroberg in memory of the prematurely deceased Duchess of Nassau, Russian Grand Duchess Elizaveta Mikhailovna. The pland of the temple was composed by an architect of Nassau, Philip Hoffmann. In his project, Hoffmann transferred his impressions of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior which was under construction at the time in the center of Moscow. In the northern part of the temple there is a chapel in which there is a marble sarcophagus. On the sarcophagus there is a reclining figure of Grand Duchess Elizabeth.

Inside, the temple is lined with several types of precious marble: black, white, gray, red-brown and ivory-colored marble. The vault of the temple is decorated with frescoes by OR Jacobi. All the icons on the iconostasis were painted by Karl von Neff, a professor at the Imperial Academy of Arts in St Petersburg, who painted the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow and St Isaac's Cathedral in the Russian capital.

The clergy and participants of the conference were greeted by the rector, Priest Valery Mikheev, who spoke about the history of the church, the active parish life, and wished the Orthodox youth fruitful and fascinating days at the conference in Germany. The parish community fed the guests with a delicious lunch.

Then the participants of the congress went to the southern part of the federal state of Hesse, to the ancient city of Darmstadt.

Two of the spouses of the Russian emperors who belonged to the House of Hesse were born in Darmstadt: Maria Alexandrovna, wife of Alexander II (nee Princess Maximiliana Wilhelmina Maria of Hesse), and Alexandra Feodorovna, wife of the Tsar-Passion-Bearer Nicholas II (nee Princess Alice of Hesse-Darmstadt).

The Church of St Mary Magdalene, Equal-to-the-Apostles, was built with the assistance of the last Russian Emperor Nicholas II and his wife Alexandra Feodorovna, who personally designed the interior design, frescoes and decoration of the temple.

The decision to build a church in Darmstadt was caused by the desire of Nicholas II and Alexandra Feodorovna to be able to visit an Orthodox church during their stay in the Empress's hometown.

The foundation stone of the permanent church was laid on October 16 in the presence of the imperial and ducal families. Soil collected in several provinces of Russia was brought to the foundation of the church. The frescoes inside the dome of the altar part are the work of the artist Viktor Vasnetsov.

On October 8, 1899, the temple was consecrated. The celebration of services in the temple was mainly associated with the visits of the royal family and the celebration of the days of remembrance of their patron saints, as well as the temple feast.

Currently, the ensemble of the Colony of Art Nouveau artists is located around the temple. Nikolaevskaya Street leads to the temple - Nikolaiweg. Priest Konstantin Grinchuk addressed the youth, and a tour of the church and the city was organized for the guests.

During visits to churches, the combined youth choir prayerfully sang spiritual hymns.

Late in the evening, the youth returned to Michelsberg, where the event continued. The youth worked on parish projects that would be presented later. And the day ended with the singing of the Akathist to St John, Archbishop of Shanghai, the Wonderworker of San Francisco.


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