It's served as a warehouse, hosted a stock exchange and housed a nightclub known as The Dome, but Shanghai's Russian Orthodox Mission Cathedral hasn't seen a religious service since 1962. That is until Wednesday, when visiting Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, presided over the Divine Liturgy here.
The mass, held on 15 May, was the cathedral's first religious service in 51 years, but this reportedly didn't come easily. Lengthy negotiations involving the Russian government in the lead up to the Patriarch's visit were required to secure permission to hold this 2.5 hour ceremony, which was attended by hundreds of visitors and worshipers, including women in traditional headscarves.
The blue-domed Russian Orthodox Mission Cathedral, located at 55 Xinle Road (Xīnlè Lù, 新乐路) in Shanghai's French Concession, was modeled on the style of the Kremlin. Built to accommodate 2,500 people, it was completed in 1937 when a sizable community of Russians resided in Shanghai—at one time up to 25,000. While much of the cathedral's stained glass was destroyed during the Cultural Revolution, the building underwent a restoration in 1988 and an art gallery/museum can sometimes be visited within. For some of today's resident Russians, it provides a link back to their tradition and culture. (More after the jump....)