The birth of Russian society
In the late 1800s, the Russian presence on the Côte d’Azur was relatively important and the Grand Duchess Anastasia (granddaughter of Emperor Nicolas I) decided to establish a Russian society called the “Russian Orthodox Association and Saint Anastasia”.
In 1884, a Russian chapel was built at the cemetery of the old castle. This quickly became too small and a few years later in 1892, the present Orthodox Church on rue Paul Morrilot was built with funds raised by the Grand Duchess Anastasia.
The Danish architect Hans Georg Tesling was responsible for the construction and on October 24, 1892 the inauguration took place.
The full name of the church is: Our Lady’s Church, Joy for the Afflicted and Saint Nicolas, the Miracle Maker.
This building does not represent pure Eastern style, but a mixture of Western and Eastern styles.
The sanctuary with the altar is, as in all orthodox churches, separated from the rest of the church by a partition called “iconostasis”, pierced by three doors and decorated with icons. The partition can be of wood, metal or marble, as is the case here.
The icons that adorn the iconostasis were made at the Academy of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg; some by the painter Bryullov and others from different eras and origins.
Restored in 1958
The church was bombed and looted during World War II and in 1958 it underwent an extensive restoration. Today it appears extremely well maintained – outside as well as inside.
By Tommy Sverre – 2022