The Main Cathedral of the Russian Armed Forces emerged against the background of growing cooperation between the Kremlin and the Russian Orthodox Church. A key aspect of that re-energised relationship has been the intensified engagement of State and Church leaders in practices of mutual legitimation. This study examines the case of the new church of the Russian Armed Forces as an illustration of how the Patriarchate and the Russian Government make sense of each other’s power and positions in Russian society. Analysis of the official discourses indicates three key developments. First, both Church and State, in their own right, construct a statist and nationalist normative framework where the well-being and the greatness of “the Fatherland” is of utmost value. The two institutions legitimise each other by representing the other party as acting on behalf of this shared value. Second, the dedication of cathedral to the “Victory in the Great Patriotic War” integrates the Church into this key national narrative and simultaneously incorporates elements of the Soviet past into Russia’s “sacred memory”. Third, the involvement of the Patriarchate and the Kremlin in mutual legitimation constructs a relatively independent Church–State legitimating nexus, making popular support less necessary.
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