A Church Vanished in Russia

MOSCOW (Reuters) – A church has vanished from the Russian village where it stood for almost 200 years, the local diocese said Tuesday.

The Church of Christ’s Resurrection, in the central Russian village of Komarovo, was built in 1809 but in early October someone took it away brick by brick, Father Vitaly a spokesman for the local Russian Orthodox Church, told Reuters.

“We have sent a letter to local prosecutors,” he said. “Who exactly did this, the investigation will show.”

The church was in an isolated area only occasionally visited by clergymen, so the disappearance was not immediately noticed.

Komarovo is in the Ivanovo region, about 300 km (186.4 miles) north-east of Moscow. The church was not in use but clergy had been considering resuming services there, the Ivanovo-Voznesenskaya and Kineshemskaya diocese said in a statement on its Internet site.

A survey of the large, two-storey church a few months ago found that it was structurally sound, but now all that remains are the foundations and sections of walls, the statement said.

Thieves routinely make off with church property in rural Russia, where unemployment, petty crime and alcoholism are widespread.

Criminals target religious icons stored in churches because they can fetch a good price, and church buildings are dismantled to provide building materials.

“This is not an isolated case,” said Father Vitaly. “In many villages in central Russia sites of historical interest are being dismantled and people suffer by being deprived of their cultural heritage.”