Italy returns Orthodox Church to Russia

March 2nd, 2009 - 1:07 am ICT by IANS  

Bari (Italy), March 1 (RIA Novosti) Russian President Dmitry Medvedev who travelled to the southern Italian city of Bari Sunday received a symbolic key to Italy’s Russian Orthodox Church from President Giorgio Napolitano.
The handover of the church complex was agreed upon between the two countries in March 2007. On April 17, the city council of Bari unanimously voted to hand the 100-year-old church to the Italian government so it could subsequently become Russian property.

A century ago Grand Princess Elizaveta Fyodorovna first raised the idea of building the church to welcome Russian pilgrims in Bari, the burial place of St. Nicolas, one of the most revered Orthodox saints.

The construction of the complex, which was built with charitable donations, was suspended due to World War I and the Russian Revolution in 1917.

In 1937, the church buildings and the land, totaling 8,000 square meters, were handed to Bari’s municipal authorities.

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