St. Nicholas Floating Lighthouse Chapel
Russia’s first floating lighthouse chapel is dedicated to St. Nicholas, the patron of rivers and those who travel and work on the water. It is located at the confluence of the Irtysh and Ob rivers, the together the longest river in Russia, third longest river in Asia and the fifth longest in the world. The Ob flows into the longest estuary in the world, the Gulf of Ob, which empties into the Arctic Ocean.
The structure is 8 meters high, weighs 10 tons, and floats on a submerged pontoon. It is built like a small Russian church, with a gilded dome. The eight large icons under the dome form an iconostasis and are back lit at night. The lighthouse beacon is right under the cross at the top of the dome. The chapel does not have an entrance and no liturgy will be said there. The only people allowed on board are the technical staff responsible for lighting and the power supply.
When a former captain, Sergei Sandulov, proposed the chapel in 2007, it gathered enthusiastic support. It was built in Nizhnevartovsk and then towed to its permanent seasonal location. The chapel floats there as a lighthouse whose beacon guides ships. It is more than a lighthouse, however, serving also as a spiritual beacon, a symbol of Orthodox Christianity and a monument to those who have been killed in Siberian rivers. Before the rivers freeze and navigation ceases, it is towed to a safer place. There it remains for the five to six winter months when the rivers are frozen and the ice can crush vessels.
The Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill consecrated the St. Nicholas Lighthouse Chapel on September 19, 2013. The Patriarch arrived on the yacht Thais. He descended the ladder and consecrated the chapel with holy water.
Photos: S. Vlasov, Press office of Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, Patriarchia.ru.