New Martyr Natalia, Part 3: The Restoration of the Church

New Martyr Natalia, Part 3: The Restoration of the Church

New Martyr Natalia. Part 1: The Village of Churiki and Its SaintChuriki is one of the oldest inhabited localities in the Ryazan region. This village has always stood at the frontier between two worlds.

“>Part 1: The Village of Churiki and its saint

New Martyr Natalia. Part 2: the Life of Holy Martyr Natalia KozlovaThe “godless five-year plan” was gaining momentum. It was decided to demolish the church in Churiki. Before implementing their plan, the authorities decided to do away with the church’s defenders.

“>Part 2: The Life of Holy Martyr Natalia Kozlova


The church had been in a state of neglect for a long time. From 2008 on locals began to make timid attempts to restore it. And only in the past five years has work begun to bear tangible results.

The village residents still feel the miraculous intercession of St. Natalia, who wants to have the church restored. After eighty years, a cross adorned the Theophany Church. The villagers raised funds all together; they had the iconostasis installed and the main part of the church re-roofed. On September 14, 2018, the feast of the New Martyr Natalia of Skopin, the lesser consecration of the church took place and services began in it, and on November 12, 2022, the greater consecration was performed.


There is a lot of work ahead to clear the refectory area of the church, restore the bell tower and install windows. After that, the stage of interior restoration work will commence. This village church is huge even by the standards of regional cities, but it is in a rather ruinous state. We call on everybody to help us restore this church, for which St. Natalia, its churchwarden, sacrificed her life at the Butovo firing range.

The first step in the restoration of the church is the conservation of the building. It is impossible to do everything at once, but it is necessary to try and stop or slow down the process of its ruination. At the initial stage we need to strengthen the refectory vault and build a roof over it, since the refectory vault, deprived of a roof for decades, could collapse at any moment. In the future, a complete restoration of the church is expected.

God willing, through the efforts of local residents and generous people the house of God will be revived! Together we can help the church! We believe that the Church of the Theophany in Churiki will become a place of permanent pilgrimage. People will want to come to admire the wonderful church and pray in front of St. Natalia’s icon. Every year on September 14 (the saint’s feast-day) a special service is held.


We have no sponsors. But there are ordinary people for whom our church is not just a picture from the news feed.

Now as part of the implementation of the “Support Local Municipal Initiatives” regional program a memorial in honor of Natalia of Skopin has been unveiled. On the site where the saint’s house used to stand an asphalt road 285 yards long was laid, a parking lot for vehicles (290 square yards) was made, and the area near the former house is tiled. A memorial cross was installed, benches were placed and thuyas planted around the perimeter.

Now, eighty-six years later, Orthodox life and weekly Liturgies have been revived in this church permeated by prayer, which had been deserted and abandoned during the years of persecution. Locals who take the fate of their church to heart are involved in clearing the refectory from debris.   

Now there is much talk about the need to create a civil society in Russia. Many lament that our people have no experience of such activity. The story of St. Natalia of Skopin demonstrates the opposite. Weren’t her protest against the illegal arrest of a priest and her collection of signatures in defense of the church acts of civic activism? And isn’t her canonization a lesson for us on how we should follow the path of Christ?

Those who now strive to revive abandoned and miraculously survived churches and save monuments of our history from modern vandals should know that we have a zealous intercessor—a Russian woman in a simple calico headscarf.

Holy Natalia of Skopin, pray to God for us!



The construction of churches in Rus’ was considered as the greatest virtue. They have always been built by everyone together. The last mites of widows and generous donations of rich people were spent on this holy cause. Churiki residents so want to come to church with their children and grandchildren, pray and take Communion…

A huge number of churches are being restored throughout Russia. The revival of Churches in cities and large villages is going on successfully, which cannot be said about small and remote villages, where ruined churches are like a silent reproach. The Church of the Theophany in Churiki in the Ryazan region has gone through so much to survive to this day: wars, desecrations and murders of clergy.

We, a small group of activists from among local residents and concerned lay-people from Moscow and elsewhere, set to work in 2008. Not everyone believed in the success of our undertaking, but the flames of faith are kindled more and more. More and more people are coming to services, more pilgrims are coming here, and more houses are being bought in the village… It means that we are doing the right thing! If you have a desire to contribute to the restoration of the church, join us!


The purpose of our project is to raise funds in order to purchase building materials, pay for the restoration of the roof of the refectory area and stop leaks that are destroying the masonry of the vault and walls. We must urgently strengthen the brick vaults and roof the building. But in the process of preparing for emergency work, it turns out that before strengthening the vault we must restore the refectory walls, which were badly damaged by precipitation and temperature changes. Since leaks are destroying the masonry of the vaults and walls, the sparse wall paintings have become damp and are flaking off the walls, and mold and fungus are appearing.

The money raised is now going towards these projects. And we ask you to contribute to the restoration of the church, the history of which goes back over 140 years. This requires 2 million rubles (c. 29,000 US dollars). The amount is very large, but we hope that bit by bit we will raise as much as we need for the roof over the refectory.


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