By Derek Sandhaus
From time to time we are overcome by curiosity and decide to wander into private buildings uninvited. Sometimes this requires offering the doorman cigarettes. Other times it’s as easy as someone leaving the door unlocked. This week fortune smiled in the form of a work team sloppily leaving the door of the Russian Orthodox Mission Church wide open.
You may already be familiar with the Mission Church sometimes referred to as Our Lady the Surety of Sinners (which sounds much more severe with a Russian accent). It once served Shanghai’s White Russian population (around 25,000 strong at one point) and later had a brief stint as a securities exchange and nightclub. Since the 2004 crackdown on disrespectful uses of Russian churches, the church has been empty and, quite frankly, feeling a bit neglected.
From what we saw during our
breaking and entering visit, the government has given Our Lady a makeover. All of the frescoes in the dome have been restored (apparently they were hiding behind a few layers of plaster) and it’s starting to look like a church again. At this point is unclear when it is slated to reopen, but the word is that it is being converted into a Russian cultural museum.
For a video of the renovations set to a soundtrack of inexplicably creepy English language chanting click here.
Russian Orthodox Mission Church
55 Xinle Lu (新乐路55弄)