By now you have heard about the Christian revival which is sweeping across Russia, with thousands of churches being restored and built on an unprecedented scale. One of these restorations is happening right here in Rostov, literally in our own backyard. This church is dedicated to Saint Leontius, bishop and martyr of Rostov.
We are currently living next door to this church. Most days the workers arrive around 8 a.m. and work until 6 or 7 p.m. We watch with fascination as they climb up the scaffolding. An enormous crane lifts pallets of bricks and mortar up to the top, where the workers skillfully turn them into a work of art.
This whole process is totally fascinating to our little son, Kenneth. Whenever he hears the crane, which is usually during breakfast time, he wants out of his high chair. Once free, he quickly walks to the window and points to the church. He stands and watches until the crane leaves.
I must admit, he isn’t the only who stands or sits and watches the construction. The rest of our family is often mesmerized as well, as we watch the renewal of Orthodox Russia, happening one brick at a time. These workers appear fearless as they scurry up and down the scaffolding, building this masterpiece.
St. Leontius was originally from Constantinople. He moved to Slavic lands and joined the Monastery of the Kiev Caves. He was their first monk to become a bishop, and was appointed to serve in Rostov, where he successfully converted pagans to the Christian faith. He reposed in the year 1073, and was Russia’s first bishop to be recognized as a saint and martyr. His relics are at the Rostov Kremlin, inside the Dormition Cathedral.
The church of St. Leontius was built in the 1790s, during the reign of Catherine the Great. It was badly damaged during the communist regime of the 20th century, but thankfully, it was not completely destroyed. Today, Russia is experiencing an unprecedented revival of Christian faith, and the church of St. Leontius is being restored to its former glory.
When we first arrived here in Rostov, this church was covered in snow. We could see the basic outline of the Church, and the scaffolding. Once the snow started to melt, the beauty of this Church began to appear. Warmer temperatures brought the workers to continue the transformation. Broken bricks were chiseled off, and new scaffolding was built even higher.
A lot of restoration work has already been done on the sides of the church, and they are now working on restoring the middle dome. There are about six weeks of warm weather left here in Rostov this year, when work on this church can still be done. In order to finish the middle dome, about $16,000 still needs to be raised.
If you would like to help complete the restoration of this church in Rostov, please make a donation on the Russian Harvest website, and contact us to let us know you want the funds to be used for the church of St. Leontius.
This is a chance to contribute to the renewal of Orthodox Christian worship in Russia, helping with the restoration of a historic Orthodox church. How often does an opportunity like this become available? Please pray for the success of this project. Lord-willing, we hope this church will soon be fully restored, full of worshipers offering up praises to God.