The Imperial Orthodox Palestinian society,
a charitable scientific organization. It was created in 1882 on the
initiative of Grand Prince Sergei Alexandrovich (president for life)
with the purpose of supporting Orthodoxy in the Holy Land (including
Syria and Lebanon), acquaintance of Russians with the Palestine and
pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
The Palestinian Society erected churches
and hostels in the Holy Land, supported teacher seminaries, schools,
ambulance stations and hospitals. The Society negotiated preferential
passing duties for pilgrims due to which many thousands of Orthodox
believers from Russia could visit the Holy Land annually. The
Palestinian Society also carried out archaeological excavations,
scientific expeditions, published hagiographies of Palestinian saints,
descriptions and guides of the Holy Land. The Orthodox Palestinian
Anthology was published from 1881, (known as the Palestinian Anthology
since 1918), and Reports of Imperial Orthodox Palestinian Society from
1891. Many outstanding scientists were members of the society, including
V. V. Bartold, S. F. Oldenburg, I. Y. Krachkovsky, V. V. Latyshev, N.
Y. Marr, and V. V. Struve.
The Administration of the Palestinian
Society, which had sections in many eparchies, was located in St.
Petersburg at 36 Voznesensky Avenue. In 1885, the Chapel of St.
Alexander Nevsky in Old Alexander's Market, which had raised money for
the restoration of the Church of St. Nicholas of Mira in Turkey was
transferred into the ownership of the Palestinian Society. In 1905, the
chapel was sanctified as St. Nicholas’ Church. In 1913-15, the church
dedicated to St. Nicholas of Mira was erected in its place in the
Neo-Russian style. At the same time the Palestinian Society started
building the Russian representative office with a church in the City of
Bari in Italy, but the project was not completed on account of the
In 1918, the Russian Palestinian Society was
transferred to the Russian Academy of Sciences; its Russian properties
The society now functions abroad under the original
name along with the Jerusalem Spiritual Mission of the Moscow
Patriarchate taking care of Russian Churches and Institutions in the
Holy Land. In 1992, it was restored to its former status in Russia.