Orthodoxy Church in Soviet Latvia

Orthodoxy Church in Soviet Latvia

After Latvia became part of the USSR the Latvian Orthodox Church was returned to the jurisdiction of the Patriarchy of Moscow. Church life entered an uneasy period of fighting for survival in an atheist state. Churches were closed and destroyed. Many clergymen suffered repressions. Part of the congregation abandoned the church, fearing persecution. But even in these difficult circumstances the Orthodox Church continued to bring the light of faith to the people.

When independence was restored to Latvia, radical changes began in the life of the Church.

On 27 October 1990, following the death of Metropolitan Leonid, Alexander (Kudryashov) became Bishop of Riga and all Latvia. In 1994 he was ordained Archbishop, in 2002 - Metropolitan of Riga and all Latvia.

At the end of 1992 His Holiness the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia and the Holy Synod took the decision to grant independence and self-government to the Latvian Orthodox Church provided that canonical relations with the Patriarchy of Moscow were maintained.

In 1994 restoration work began on the Riga Theological College.

Massive works were underway to restore the chapels which had been taken away from the Church. Chapels were built in Salaspils, Ogre and Grāveri. The foundations of a chapel were laid in Pļaviņas, and one was built in Iecava. The Monastery of the Holy-Spirit was re-erected in Jēkabpils.

There are currently some 350,000 Orthodox believers in Latvia. Orthodoxy is the third largest religious denomination of the country after Catholicism and Lutheranism.

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