St Serafim Church Being Painted in Sarov

Artists began on Tuesday to paint the church of St Serafim Sarovsky, the restoration of which is timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of Serafim's canonisation.

The total square of the paintings will be 2,500 square metres, according to the organisational committee for arranging national jubilee celebration set up in February by a decree of Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov.

The first ever church in the name of St. Serafim Sarovsky was founded in the late 19th century above the cell where the saint lived and died in 1833. Under the Soviet power, the cell and the frescos were destroyed. After the war the church housed the Sarov Drama Theatre.

Now the artists face a double task of painting the interior and reconstructing the authentic manner of fresco painting that existed before the church's destruction. The frescos will be restored according to surviving paintings and photos.

The artists are led by icon-painter Yaroslav Ryllo. According to him, the church will be painted by more than 70 artists, most of whom have great experience of work in churches.

The Organisational committee stressed that all funding for the frescos' restoration was provided by sponsors. The work's cost is estimated at $500,000.

The painting is planned to be completed by mid-July. Apart from that, the work will include installation of the iconostasis (currently manufactured in Palekh), completion of St Serafim's cell, coppering the church's central dome and arranging the area.

On July 30, the church will be consecrated by Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexis II in the presence of tens of thousands of pilgrims and the country's high officials. This will be the central event in the jubilee celebration in honour of St Serafim, one of the most loved and revered Russian saints.

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