IOPS Opens Museum in Moscow
The museum is housed in the IOPS Center, Ulitsa Zabalina 3 in Moscow
The Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society (IOPS) opened a new museum in Moscow last week. The opening ceremony was attended by the mayor of Moscow, Sergei Sobyanin. He toured the exhibition which includes a memorial plaque in honour of the Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich and his wife, the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna. The plaque was consecrated by Archbishop Mark Egorievskiy.
Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich, was a founding member and served as the first President of IOPS from April 24, 1889-1905, while his wife, Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, served as the second President of IOPS from 1905-1917.
The opening of the museum coincided with the birthday of the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna (born November 1st, 1864 at Darmstadt). Since the end of the 19th century the IOPS have helped Russian pilgrims in the Holy Land. They have also established schools, hospitals and hospices in the Middle East, providing assistance to local residents, churches and clergy.
"Bit by bit, we have put together the story of the IOPS, which has played an important role in the fate of our country, and the development of relations between Russia and the countries of the Holy Land,” - said Sergey Stepashin, Chairman of IOPS.
Visitors to the museum can see the pilgrim relics from the Holy Land, books and brochures, issued by IOPS for many pilgrims, portraits and personal belongings of the chairmen and honorary members of the IOPS and more. There is also a section on modern-day Russian activities in the Holy Land, construction and restoration of pilgrimage centers, Russian spirituality and culture in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Bari, Italy, and Syria, now war-torn. "Russia is returning to the Holy Land," - said Nicholas Lisovoy, deputy chairman of the IOPS for Science.
On the same day at the museum was a large-scale conference, In the Service of Moscow and the Fatherland, where researchers and social activists presented papers on the activities of Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich and Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, and the history of "Russian Palestine." Next year, they plan to install a monument to the grand ducal couple in Moscow.
The Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society was founded in 1882 by decree of Emperor Alexander III. Its members were all prominent members of the aristocracy, including members of the Imperial family. After the Revolution the society was renamed the Russian Palestine Society and attached to the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. In 1992 the IOPS was restored, and today operates 18 regional offices in Russia and seven overseas offices in Israel, Palestine, Greece, Cyprus and other countries.
© Paul Gilbert