The porta-Church

Church-in-a-box … A Russian military Orthodox chapel

I have to hand it to the Orthodox in this case, with their strong sense of “sacred space.”  This is the property, remember, of what was “the Red Army” not that long ago, in what was formerly the officially and aggressively atheist Soviet Union.  From the Guardian:

The Russian military unveiled an unlikely new weapon in its arsenal this month – an army of parachuting priests. The unit of chaplains, who have joined the Russian Airborne Force to train in parachute jumping and vehicle assembly, will operate out of flatpack churches that can be airlifted in to wherever soldiers may be stationed.

The church could be mistaken for a standard-issue army cabin, taking the form of a khaki-coloured shed on wheels, were it not for the cladding of gilded icons and the majestic onion dome spire sprouting from its rooftop. The mobile prayer room has also been fitted with a “life-sustaining module”, which includes a diesel power source, an air-conditioning unit and a fridge, reported Russia Today.

The chapel is flown in as a kit of parts, delivered via the kind of airborne platform usually used to carry armoured vehicles and other heavy military equipment, and is then assembled on the ground. Within, the gilded interior incorporates crucifixes, bells and icons, as well as a mini theatre – which can be extended sideways with additional wings, thus forming the cross-shaped plan of an Orthodox church.

via Russian army introduces the flying Orthodox church-in-a-box | Art and design | guardian.co.uk.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • tODD

    A portable worship location! What will they think of next?

  • Carl Vehse

    How about a portable inflatable church?

  • Tom Hering

    An all-terrain type for the church militant:

    http://kuksi.com/artworks/sculpture/church-tank-type-5a/39/

  • http://theoldadam.com/ the Old Adam

    It looks like a place set apart for something special.

    And that’s more than I can say for most of these “non-denominational” barns that litter the strip malls and warehouse districts of Southern California.

  • Steve Bauer

    So instead of an aggressively atheist Russian state we have a church wedded to an agressive Russian state. Why am I not feeling comforted?

  • Nils

    Cool idea!

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist

    I want one.

  • George A. Marquart

    It’s an interesting concept. What we are looking at is an altar behind three gates. The middle one, known as the King’s Gate (czar’s door in Russian), may only be used by the celebrant. The two doors on both sides are for the use of other clergy, deacons and elders. In regular churches these doors are part of an iconostasis, which, as the name implies, is covered with icons. The lowest icon, just to the right of the King’s Gate is the one after which the church is named.

    In this case, there is only one icon, and it is not between the King’s Gate and the one to the right. Presumably this altar is dedicated to the person in that icon. I cannot tell what it is but it appears to be an icon of Christ.

    Wikipedia has this entry for a Roman Catholic “War Altar”: A war altar was a mobile altar on which Mass was celebrated before a battle. The ultimate example is the carroccio of the medieval Italian city states, which was a four-wheeled mobile shrine pulled by oxen and sporting a flagpole and a bell. The carroccio also served as the army standard.

    I agree with Steve Bauer @5.

    An altar made according to canon law to accompany cannon is something unique. During WWI they carried “miraculous icons” into battle, but they did not perform very well.

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart


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