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A Russian church's Via Dolorosa

Danny Rubinstein

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Alexander Nevsky Church, one of the more impressive assets of the Russian Church in East Jerusalem, is desolate. An elderly Russian princess who lives alone in the building is raising funds to preserve it

At the end of Bab Khan al-Zeit, the central market of the Old City of Jerusalem, which proceeds southward from the Damascus Gate, stands one of the city's most impressive buildings, Alexander Nevsky Church. The Russian church and hostel is named for the 13th-century national hero and saint, who repulsed the Swedish invasion in a battle on the Neva River (which runs through St. Petersburg) and thereby stopped the spread eastward of German Catholicism.

This important church, which contains impressive archaeological finds, has been desolate for some years. Patches of plaster from the high ceiling fell, posing a hazard for visitors. Accordingly, the authorities classified the building as hazardous and closed it down.

In the past year a tall, fine-looking elderly woman has lived alone in the vast building. Her full name is Margarita Rida Dovrovskaya von Luelsdorf, but the Arab shop owners around the church call her "Rita." She was born in China to a family of Russian princes who originate from Saxony, in Germany. These days she is busy raising funds to repair and preserve the church. One of the obstacles she faces is the dispute over the assets of the Russian Church in the Holy Land.

Read the entire article on the Haaretz International website (new window will open).

Posted: 1/1/05



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