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04-03-2010, Nice

Metropolitan Hilarion mourns for late parishioner of Nice Cathedral suffered for protecting unity of Russian Orthodoxy

Head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations Metropolitan Hilarion offers his condolences in connection with the death of Lydia Places, 76-year-old parishioner of St. Nicolas Cathedral in Nice.

"The thought that Lydia Fedorovna was unfairly and heartlessly barred from the Holy Communion for her honest and open position in protecting unity of Russian Orthodoxy intensifies the sorrow of losing the one who was so close to you ," the Metropolitan's message to late Lydia's son Jean-Mark Place reads as cited at the DECR website.

Metropolitan Hilarion noted that Place had worked to preserve "a wonderful Russian church" in Nice for many years.

"As I lift up my prayers for resting the soul of the late servant of God Lydia, I firmly believe that the Merciful Lord will accept her with love in His heavenly dwellings and crown her with eternal glory in His neverending Kingdom," the Metropolitan said.

The reason Places was excommunicated was her article 'A Russian Church of Surprising Beauty' in the 'Russkaya Mysl' paper dedicated to the parochial life of St. Nicholas Cathedral. Places said its Rector and clerics took a frankly russophobe stance, they wished to "obliterate Russian traditions and eradicate them." As a result, in parish life, "anything that is Russian is blocked and restricted".

Soon after the article was published, the Archdiocese head Archbishop Gabriel of Comana excommunicated Places for indeterminate period. Besides, she was barred by correspondence as the parishioner received a registered letter from the Archbishop.

Place more than once requested Archbishop Gabriel to allow her communion. Other members of the Russian Orthodox community of France also wrote open letters to the Archdiocese head, but all their requests were left without an answer.

According to the Cathedral parishioners, Lydia Fedorovna Places complained of heart problems in recent months.