MOSCOW, December 30. /TASS/. St. Petersburg’s St. Isaac’s Cathedral will be handed over to the Russian Orthodox Church in the near future despite the fact that Patriarch Kirill, the church’s head, has not put his signature under an official request as of the end of 2017, Metropolitan Hilarion said on the Rossiya’24 television channel on Saturday.
"As far as I know, the patriarch has not signed a request for handover of the St. Isaac’s Cathedral to the Russian Orthodox Church. I think it will be done in some foreseeable future," he said.
"I think the process will take its course. Sooner or later, I hope, it will happen so that St. Isaac’s Cathedral, like other churches of the Russian Orthodox Church, will become the church’s property," the metropolitan said.
St. Petersburg’s authorities said earlier that on December 30, 2016 instructions were issued to transfer the St. Isaac’s Cathedral to the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church on the basis of the 2010 federal law. In September 2017, St. Petersburg’s Governor Georgy Poltavchenko said the Russian Orthodox Church had not yet submitted an official request for the handover.
The issue caused a public controversy. An initiative group tried to organize a referendum on that matter. Several rallies have been held in St. Petersburg against the cathedral’s transfer to the Church.
St. Isaac’s Cathedral was designed by French architect Auguste de Montferrand. The cathedral that was consecrated in the name of St Isaac of Dalmatia and took 40 years to build from 1818 all the way to 1858. Due to its extraordinary maintenance costs, it belonged to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Imperial Russia before the 1917 revolution. In 1928 the Bolshevik authorities turned it into a museum. Later, church services on special occasions resumed there in 1990 and gradually became daily ones.
The museum complex currently includes two world-famous St. Petersburg cathedrals - St. Isaac’s Cathedral and the Church of Our Savior on the Spilled Blood. The cathedral’s compound is owned by city authorities but it enjoys the protection of federal agencies, in addition, UNESCO placed it on the list of world heritage sites in 1986.