Orthodox Palestine Society


Brief History of Our Society and a Request for New Members

"
For Sion's sake I will not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest "
(Is. 62: 1)

This is the motto of our Society which was founded in Russia in 1882, based in Saint Petersburg, and with chapters in many other cities. The objectives of this lay Society were as follows: 1) to assist Russian pilgrims in the Holy Land, 2) to conduct scientific research and archeological excavations, and 3) to support Orthodox interests in the Holy Land.

Grand Duke Serge Alexandrovich, a son of Emperor Alexander II, had visited the Holy Land in 1881. A deeply religious man, he felt the force of the Holy Land's spiritual attraction, and when in 1882 he was asked to become the president of The Orthodox Palestine Society he readily agreed. By 1896, there were twenty chapters of the Society throughout the Russian Empire, and by 1902 the number of chapters had grown to forty-three. An annual collection to benefit the Society was established and was taken up in all churches throughout Russia on Palm Sunday.

After the assassination of Grand Duke Serge in 1905, his widow the Grand Duchess Elisabeth, took over the presidency of the Society, a position she held until her own martyrdom at the hands of the revolutionaries in 1918. Today, the relics of the Grand Duchess Elisabeth, canonized in 1981 by the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, repose in the Church of St. Mary Magdalene in the Garden of Gethsemane, outside the walls of Jerusalem. Grand Duke Serge and Grand Duchess Elisabeth were present in 1888 when the comer stone for this church was laid. >From 1882 until the Bolshevik Revolution, The Orthodox Palestine Society was responsible for many achievements. Many scholarly works were published, and in the Holy Land churches, monasteries, pilgrims' hostels, a library, a hospital, and schools for Arab children were built. For the first time in history, Russian Orthodoxy became a strong and influential presence in the Holy Land in addition to the traditional presence of the Greeks, Latins and Armenians.

The Bolshevik Revolution, which eventually destroyed the great achievements of the Russian Empire, also contributed to the waning of Russian Orthodox presence and influence in the Holy Land.

After 1918, the entire Board of Directors of the Orthodox Palestine Society, with the exception of its murdered president, emigrated abroad and continued to manage its properties in the Holy Land. Eventually, the Society placed itself under the protection of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. But without the resources of the Russian Empire the Society's activities became limited, and it lost many of its holdings in the Holy Land. Nonetheless, the Society still owns important holy sites today, and together with the Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad our Society helps maintain the presence of Russian Orthodoxy in the Holy Land. Today, The Orthodox Palestine Society continues its mission by collecting funds for the Russian Orthodox convents on the Mount of Olives and in the Garden of Gethsemane and by sponsoring pilgrimages to the Holy Land. It is important for The Orthodox Palestine Society to maintain its existence and its mission, and it is our duty to further the work of its founders. We are the legitimate custodians of several holy sites, and we are part of the continued presence of Russian Orthodoxy in the Holy Land. In past times, Russian pilgrims could not attend services in Russian Orthodox churches, because there were none. We must not take for granted the existence of our beautiful churches in the Holy Land.

By becoming a member of The Orthodox Palestine Society we become part of a great Russian Orthodox tradition: concern and love for the Holy Land. Jerusalem has always been a spiritual magnet for the Russian Orthodox, and we must do our part to ensure that there will always be in the Holy Land the presence of our Russian Orthodox Church. Please consider becoming a member of The Orthodox Palestine Society. All you have to do is fill the enclosed form and return it in the enclosed envelope. [ This form is at the and of this letter, and available as a printable PDF document - webmaster] If you are a member already please give this mailing to another person who might be interested in joining our membership. We thank you for your support.

The Right Rev. Bishop GABRIEL
Vice President
The Orthodox Palestine Society/USA


Princess Irina Bagration
President
The Orthodox Palestine Society/USA

28 October 1999


Please print this letter, and fill in the form below, or print the view the donation form PDF document and print it:
The Orthodox Palestine Society/USA
75 East 93rd Street
New York, N.Y. 10128

Yes, I would like to become a member of The Orthodox Palestine Society/USA a lay affiliate under the jurisdiction of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (a U.S. corporation headquartered in New York). The Orthodox Palestine Society/USA is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization incorporated in Washington, D.C. All contributions are tax deductible.

Name: (please print)
______________________________________
Address:
______________________________________

Enclosed: $20 (single membership) ___    $35 (membership per couple) ___

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