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Delegation of students and teachers visits Berlin
From June 19-25, 2017, a group of students and teachers from Saint Tikhon’s University took part in the seventh Joint Conference conducted by our University together with the Humboldt University in Berlin.

Over the course of these seven days, a group consisting of students and teaching staff from the Faculties of Theology and Church Arts accomplished quite a substantial amount of work. Each day, while participating in the sessions of the aforementioned academic gathering – dedicated to the topic “Word and image in the Orthodox and Protestant tradition” – they presented papers and debated theological and cultural questions. The students and their teachers also managed to visit the main tourist sites in Berlin, including the former Reichstag building, now home to the Bundestag, the bicameral legislature of the Federal Republic of Germany; the Berlin Picture Gallery (Berliner Gemäldegalerie), which impressed the group with its collection of art from the Early and Late Renaissance; and the Berlin Cathedral (Berliner Dom).

On Thursday, 22 June, the group went on a day-trip to the birthplace of the German Reformation, Wittenberg. Here, the conference attendees visited Martin Luther’s house, the house of his fellow Reformer Philipp Melanchthon, and also the “Castle Church” (Schlosskirche), where Luther nailed his famous 95 Theses to the door in 1517.

In parallel with the cultural program, the theological conference had a packed schedule organized by Dr. Reinhard Flogaus. During the four-day conference, a number of reports were given by both the Russian and the German side. They treated various art-historical, cultural, and theological topics connected with the Western and Eastern Christian traditions (including liturgical) of understanding the sense and meaning of images and depictions.

In defence of the veneration of icons, apart from references to Sacred Tradition and the views of the Holy Fathers, the Russian side presented the religious and philosophical concept of the image as developed by Fr. Pavel Florensky, Fr. Sergei Bulgakov, and Prince Sergei Trubetskoy, as well as Leonid Uspensky’s theory of iconography. As Dr. Floghaus remarked at the conclusion of the conference, the German side was able to delve deeper into the theology of icons in the Orthodox Church and make sense of the significance of images in the Eastern Christian tradition, which holds icons to be one of the most important means of mystical communion between man and God.

At the end of the conference, the students from Saint Tikhon’s University expressed their deep gratitude to the teaching faculty of Humboldt University for organizing the conference (Dr. Reinhard Flogaus, Prof. Notger Slenczka, Prof. Heinz Ohme, Prof. Martin George), the teachers from our university (The Very Rev. Archpriest Georgiy Orehanov, The Very Rev. Archpriest Nikolai Chernyshev, Peter B. Mihailov, Alexis L. Gulmanov), and also to the students from Berlin, who helped to make this trip unforgettable thanks to their serious preparation and openness to communication.

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