The Chinese Orthodox Church
English translation by Nina Tkachuk Dimas
On July 19, the Gorodetsk St. Theodore men’s Monastery hosted an event very significant not only for Gorodetsk, but for all of Russia. They started glorifying the name of an outstanding oriental scholar, statesman, and Orthodox missionary – Archimandrite Pyotr (Pavel Ivanovich Kamensky).
During a quarter of a century Father Pyotr (Kamensky) worked in Beijing; he became the first Russian Sinologist; was an elected member of the Academy of Sciences, who was appointed to head the mission in China. His name was well known to the scholarly community of the 19th century.
In August 1833, having refused offers of high positions in the church hierarchy, including the episcopate in the Astrakhan Diocese, Archimandrite Pyotr came to Gorodetsk’s monastery of St. Theodore to spend the last years of his life. His authority, communication, influence, and much money contributed to the monastery’s revival. Many prominent personalities, writers, clerics found time to visit the St. Theodore’s monastery to bear witness to the famous and eminent countryman.
Archimandrite Pyotr died on May 17, 1845. His place of burial has been lost, because the godless powers at the Feodorovsky Cathedral and monastery’s cemetery made it into a wasteland, and threw the name of the famous countryman into oblivion. The new governing power needed its heroes. With the monastery’s revival and the construction of St. Theodore’s Cathedral at the beginning of 2008, some remains, presumably those of the monastic brothrhood, were found. They were reburied, and now this place, behind St Theodore Cathedral’s altar is marked by a cross. There are assumptions about the location of Fr. Pyotr (Kamensky) remains, but this matter requires study and a special approach.
Modern China scholars at the Siberian Federal University Vladimir G. Datsyshen and Anton Borisovich Chegodayev wrote a monograph on the Archimandrite Pyotr (Kamensky). Fr. Dionisy Pozdnyayev of Hong Kong’s parish of SS Peter & Paul who is the book’s author and project’s publisher came to Gorodetsk to present the book. The hall of Gorodetsk’s Diocesan Education Center, which hosted the book’s presentation, was packed.
The names of people who involved in the release of a given work were announced. It should be noted that the book is published by city residents, and “It is a matter of pride,” said N.F. Polyakov. Bishop Augustin of Gorodets and Vetluzhsk quickly made Fr. Pyotr’s personality known to the participants, highlighting his stay at St. Theodore’s Monastery. Speakers took questions from the audience, which indicated the attendees’ interest in Fr. Pyotr. These were suggestions to name one of the city streets for the famous countryman.
After the presentation all participants took part in consecrating the cross and tomestone in memory of Archimandrite Pyotr (Kamensky). Assisted by the priests of the Gorodetsk Diocese, Bishop Augustin of Gorodets and Vetluzhsk served a litany for the Monastery’s departed inhabitants at the new headstones.
Text by Galina Bobyleva