The Church of Transfiguration in Baden-Baden
Living in Baden-Baden and its environs Orthodox Christians have the advantage of praying in the Transfiguration Church, one of the most beautiful in Western Europe works of Russian Church architecture. Russian churches were built in the Grand Duchy of Baden in the second half of the 19th century. Their origin is connected with the occurrence of close dynastic ties between Baden and Russia in the late 18th century. In 1793, Prince Alexander married Princess Louise of Baden, who, having adopted Orthodoxy, and became known as Elizabeth. After visiting the Grand residence of the Royal couple in 1814 in Karlsruhe was created by the Russian mission, which facilitated the establishment of Orthodox churches on the territory of the Duchy, including the Church of the Transfiguration in Baden-Baden.
Thanks to the diligence and generosity of the faithful, as well as material support and patronage of members of the Russian Imperial family, municipal government and the Russian Church in Baden-Baden was built in September 1882. The building was erected under the project of architect Baden Belzer. All interior painting free made Vice-President of the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts by Prince Grigory Grigorievich Gagarin. The Church was consecrated in honor of the Transfiguration of the Lord on October 28, 1882.
The temple is crowned with a characteristic of Russian Church architecture gilded onion dome with the cross on it. Above the entrance is a mosaic image of the Transfiguration of our Lord, executed by the Venetian artist Salviati on the drawings of Prince Gagarin. Inside the Church is divided into three parts: the vestibule, the Central part and the altar. The ceiling is supported by six columns, United in the Central part of the arches. The seven frescoes depicting scenes from the life of Jesus Christ, located in accordance with the gospel chronology. In cupolini part – images of the Evangelists Luke, Mark, Matthew and John. The altar is separated from the Central part of elegant single-tiered marble iconostasis, in which is placed the Saviour and of the Mother of God. On the North chancel door is the Archangel Gabriel, on the South, the Archangel Michael, on the Royal doors – the Annunciation and the four Evangelists. All the walls, dome, columns, stained-glass Windows decorated with ornaments. The decoration of the temple are also five massive bronze lustre located in the sanctuary and the Central part of the icon.
The Church of Transfiguration in Baden-Baden. The interior decoration.
Russian Church in Baden-Baden was awarded with very high ratings in the local press. This, in particular, wrote “Badenblatt” from October 28, 1882: “With the construction of this beautiful Church, our city has been enriched with another magnificent decoration.”
Russian churches in the Diaspora has always played a crucial role not only religious, but also cultural life of Russians living abroad. This is clearly seen in the history of Baden Orthodox parishes. In the first half of the 19th century Baden-Baden became the favourite holiday destination of rich Russians. Among them were many prominent figures of Russian culture. In the “summer capital of Europe”, as they called this city, there were N. Gogol, Zhukovsky and V. Tolstoy. From 1862 to 1869, there lived Turgenev. In these years he created the novel “Smoke”, which describes the life of the Russian community of Baden-Baden. Also been here Goncharov, Nekrasov, Saltykov-Shchedrin, Solovyev, Dostoevsky.
In 1899 visited the Church of the Russian Imperial family: Nicholas II and Alexandra Fyodorovna, who came to Germany NP sanctification built at own funds of the Church of Mary Magdalene in Darmstadt.
In the beginning of the First world war, the Transfiguration Church was closed until 1921. the gilding of the cupolas was confiscated and melted down by the Germans as property of the enemy. The dome was covered with tin and painted blue. In this form it remained until 1988. In the mid 80-ies in the temple were carried out major restoration work. By the 1000 anniversary of the baptism of Rus gilding on the dome was restored and the entire exterior part of the Church recovered its original appearance.
And now, 122 years is this beautiful temple. One can only regret that he becomes the target of attacks, generating distrust and discord in the Church life and preventing Russian emigration to exercise entrusted to it by God’s Providence mission – witnessing throughout the world the truth and beauty of Orthodoxy.
The value of this hotbed of faith on German soil, especially increased in recent years, due to the massive inflow of Russians from the former Soviet Union. The parish rector, father Miodrag, nourishes a huge interest and love for Russian tradition, Russian history and culture. He tries to help immigrants from Russia to learn, to preserve and transmit to their descendants the great spiritual heritage that has developed in the Motherland for many centuries. When father Miodrag adopted the parish, at Church services, which were held only once a month, attended by maybe 10 people. To date, a weekly service is going up to 150 worshipers and major holidays much more. A number of parishioners are Serbs, Greeks, and natives of Western Europe was Christianized. In the bulk of the parish consists of natives of Russia and Kazakhstan, many of which watercourse after left the country.
The Church of “Transfiguration of Christ” belongs to the Russian Orthodox Church abroad headed by his Eminence Metropolitan Laurus of Eastern America and new York. The ruling Bishop of the German diocese is Archbishop mark.