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Exhibition “Life for Me is Christ” Encapsulates Pivotal Moments in the Life of Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh

St. Tikhon’s Orthodox University for the Humanities (STOU) hosted the grand opening of an exhibition about Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh, titled “Life for Me is Christ”.

The opening of the exhibition at STOU, initiated by the Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh Spiritual Heritage Foundation on the 20th anniversary of his death, is part of the Meeting Place Festival, which was held on October 12–15 as a continuation of the Meeting for Friendship Amongst Peoples (Rimini Meeting).

The exhibit is open to the public in the foyer of the Main Building of the STOU until October 26. It tells about Vladyka’s life, his family, childhood, his encounter with God and serving people as a doctor and then as a preacher.

The opening ceremony was held in St. Vladimir Hall. The event was moderated by Archpriest Konstantin Polskov, Vice-Rector for Research and International Affairs at STOU. The meeting opened with a brief speech by Archpriest Vladimir Vorobyov, Rector of STOU, who shared his impressions of his personal meetings with Metropolitan Anthony: “Vladyka preached amazingly – you could write down his sermons and send them to press immediately, without editing. This is an exceptional gift […] He is a wonderful pastor, a clergyman who immediately predisposes any person favourably to himself.” Fr. Vladimir noted that the churches where Vladyka served were always full of people. “He was a remarkable hierarch, an ascetic of apostolic vocation, the power of his missionary ministry is so grandiose that it is difficult to name anyone who is his equal.”

Egor Agafonov, Head of the STOU Press, who last year became President of the Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh Spiritual Heritage Foundation, spoke about how the Foundation was established and its work. He noted that this exhibition is “genetically linked to STOU”. By this, he meant the long-standing cooperation of our University with the Rimini Meeting, where STOU brought an exhibition about the new martyrs titled “The Light Shineth in Darkness”. This exhibition was “a revelation for the European audience.” Afterwards, there was an idea to create an exhibition on Metropolitan Anthony for Rimini. Christians of different denominations from Moscow, Kiev, Kharkov, Milan, Bergamo, and Minsk worked together on it; in the process, “a beautiful common space was created, which, unfortunately, has now been torn apart.” The opening of the exhibition now is “a good sign of hope that this common space can be restored with the spiritual depth that Metropolitan Anthony called for”.

Ms. Alessandra Vitez, a representative of the Rimini Meeting, greeted the visitors with a very warm video address. She spoke about the friendship that has bound together STOUH and the Meeting for 10 years, and with special warmth, she remembered Father Georgii Orekhanov, who often attended the festival in Rimini. “The friendship that began in Moscow” – with Alessandra’s visit during the preparation of the exhibition “The Light Shineth in Darkness” – “and extended to Italy, is now returning to Moscow again, carrying with it the beauty and impressions of that lived experience.” This is what Alessandra said about the exhibition about Metropolitan Anthony, which also took place for the first time in 2015 in Rimini. “Indeed, human existence is an inexhaustible friendship, if we are willing to open our hearts to possible friendships that cannot be foreseen, but can only be accepted, anticipating the good that lies waiting in them and attracts us.”

STOU graduate Fr. Mikhail Fadeev, a priest of Kemerovo Diocese, spoke about his “discovery” of the Metropolitan and his involvement in the birth of the exhibition. Together with Italian friends, our students spent several months reading Vladyka’s texts and communicating with people who knew him personally. This desire arose after the Russian students’ “encounter” with the personality of Fr. Luigi Giussani, founder of the Communion and Liberation movement. “We heard very familiar speeches, thoughts like Metropolitan Anthony’s, and we thought, ‘So we have Vladyka Anthony!’ – and decided to speak about him in Rimini.” “It was an experience of witnessing, of friendship, of meeting. […] This is how Vladyka helped us in our friendship, which led us to be faithful to our Churches in anticipation of unity in Christ.”

After the opening words, there was a screening of the movie The Mystery of Presence (directed by Sergei Kanev, 2023). The movie, which has just been released, was shown here for only the second time and is still a work in progress. It was prepared by the Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh Spiritual Heritage Foundation for the 20th anniversary of Vladyka’s death. Through it, the viewer can realize how Vladyka’s legacy is present in our lives today.

Vladyka’s words were comforting and soothing in their wisdom. It was a joy to see him, to hear him, to look into his eyes. During the viewing, I felt his living presence. Afterward, a calm, warm peace, inner silence remained. For many people, the movie was a live encounter with Vladyka.

You can visit the exhibition accompanied by our student guides until October 26 by pre-registering at this link [ru].