Shock as IRREPLACEABLE holy objects STOLEN during raid at Russian church

·3-min read
St Nicholas Orthodox Church in Ferry Road. Picture: Ed Nix
St Nicholas Orthodox Church in Ferry Road. Picture: Ed Nix

THE priest at a church which was broken into and had money set aside for Ukrainian refugees stolen, has praised the community after more than £10,000 was raised by well-wishers.

St Nicholas Orthodox Church – A Russian Orthodox church in Ferry Road – was broken into and vandalised during the early hours of Saturday morning.

Donations of roughly £500 for Ukrainian refugees were stolen, as well as an assortment of holy objects.

Oxford Mail: Vandalism by the church altar. Picture: St Nicholas Orthodox Church
Oxford Mail: Vandalism by the church altar. Picture: St Nicholas Orthodox Church

Vandalism by the church altar. Picture: St Nicholas Orthodox Church

Father Stephen Platt, parish priest at the church, said while the incident had been ‘very distressing’, the community response had shone through.

He said: “The church community has been absolutely amazing. When the break-in and theft was discovered on Saturday morning, those who had come for the service chose to help clear up and put things back into place.

“Our neighbours have been very supportive and kind, while friends from different Christian congregations and religions have also been very supportive, not least the extended community via social media.

“A collection of money to help Ukrainian refugees has been replaced many times over from donations online.

Oxford Mail: St Nicholas Orthodox Church. Picture: Ed Nix
Oxford Mail: St Nicholas Orthodox Church. Picture: Ed Nix

St Nicholas Orthodox Church. Picture: Ed Nix

“We think the money left on premises from collections was about £500 but we’ve since had thousands come in from donations after the break-in.

“Our community here is very international with at least 20 different nationalities, including people from Ukraine, Russia, Poland, Georgia and many eastern European countries.

“Our Orthodox community in Oxford is very international and I think that’s why we’ve been shown great support from the Oxford community.”

Read again: Church gets ransacked and cash for Ukrainian refugees stolen

Upon publication, £10,158 had been raised via the donate function on the church’s Facebook post about the break-in.

“It was a weekend where we were reminded that people can do very bad things, but ultimately good things have replaced that,” Fr Platt added.

“Holy objects were stolen, which is very sad, but people’s kindness and goodwill have shone through.

“Alongside the cash stolen, objects including a collection of relics, altar crosses and christening crosses were stolen – to the value of about £5,000.

“It was utter shock, disbelief and horror when it was first discovered what had happened.

“Especially for us, seeing the area around the altar had been targeted during the burglary was very distressing.

“To see holy objects on the floor and treated with disrespect goes to the heart.

“None of this compares though to the hardships and tragedies which are happening in the Ukraine and round the world.”

Earlier this week, the Russian Embassy in the UK tweeted that the incident is an example of what ‘ramped up Russophobia leads to’.

A spokesperson for Thames Valley Police said no arrests have been made in connection with the incident.

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