The official ceremony for the inauguration of Mother Maria Skobtsova Street was held Thursday, 31 March 2016, at 11:15 a.m., in the 15th arrondissement of Paris, orthodoxie.com informs.
On 12 November 2013, at the proposal of the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hildago, the Council of Paris voted in unanimity in favour of naming a new street in the 15th arrondissement of Paris after Mother Maria Skobtsova.
Several personalities took part at the ceremony, from whom we note: His Grace Jean Renneteau, Bishop of Charioupolis and locum tenens of the Archdiocese of Russian Orthodox Churches in Western Europe – exarchate of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, His Excellency Aleksandr Orlov, Ambassador of the Russian Federation to France, and Philippe Goujon, Mayor of the 15th arrondissement of Paris.
On this occasion, the representative of the Mayor of Paris, Mrs. Catherine Vieu-Charier, delivered a speech in which she evoked the luminous personality of Mother Maria Skobtsova, and underlined the fact that nothing is more righteous or legitimate than to pay tribute to this Orthodox woman, socially and religiously engaged in fighting against injustice. Catherine Vieu-Charier concluded by saying that Mother Maria Skobtsova has illumined and will continue to illumine Paris. (read the full text of the speech in French).
In his turn, Mayor Philippe Goujon said that offering the name of Mother Maria to this street (which is close to Lourmel Str., where Mother Maria Skobtsova lived during her stay in Paris) was something logical and indispensable.
For the Orthodox Church, in general, and for the Russian Community in Paris, in particular, Mother Maria is a hero. The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople canonized her in 2004.
The Holy Martyr Maria Skobtsova (in the world, Elizaveta), also known as St Maria of Paris or Mother Maria, was born in Riga, Latvia, in 1891, in an aristocratic family. She was the first woman to study at the Saint Petersburg Theological Academy. According to the Synodal Act of the Ecumenical Patriarchate regarding the Canonization of Mother Maria, in 1935, she became a nun, receiving the name of Maria after St Mary of Egypt. She founded a House of Hospitality and a hostel for the homeless, in the 15th arrondissement of Paris, thus offering a spiritual dimension to her social activities, also contributing to the development of monasticism in the city, in the desert of human hearts. She founded the Orthodox Action, through which she was at the service of the unemployed, of immigrants, of the homeless and of those who could not afford even the daily food. During German occupation, she helped persecuted Jews and especially children. On March 31, 1945, according to certain witnesses, Mother Maria was gassed at the Ravensbrück concentration camp, taking the place of a fellow prisoner sentenced to death.
Maria Skobtsova received the title of Righteous among the Nations on behalf of the State of Israel, and her name is commemorated on the Yad Vashem wall of honour in Jerusalem.
On January 16, 2004, the Ecumenical Patriarchate decided to enroll Mother Maria Skobtsova among the saints, together with four other fellow passion-bearers: George Skobtsov, Fr. Dimitry Klepinine, Elie Fondaminsky and Fr. Alexis Medvedkov.