Church At World’s End

Photos by Natacha Pisarenko

Sophrony Kirilov pulls hard on the strings of the heavy Russian bells from inside the world’s southernmost Eastern Orthodox church, calling to anybody who wants to pray on this remote Antarctic island.

The 38-year-old Russian priest is clad in a loose black robe and a vest dotted with patches of penguins and seals, marking his four years of service at the bottom of the world.

Kirilov says there’s no place he feels closer to God than in this frigid land.

“In the world, there’s no tranquility and silence. But here, it’s quiet enough,” Kirilov says at the Holy Trinity Church.

The small wooden building is perched precariously on a rocky hill above a smattering of prefabricated houses for scientists and service workers who call this frozen continent home, at least part of the year.

The grayish clapboard church was first built in Russia from Siberian cedar planks treated to withstand the frosts and harsh wind. In 2004, it was disassembled and shipped log-by-log to Antarctica.

In the summer, tourists and the staff of the international stations leave their snowy, muddy boots at the entrance and pray in silence. During Sunday service, Kirilov reads from the scriptures in Russian and sings in an angelic voice.

“Here, you can calmly pray to God in peace and quiet,” says the priest. “Sure, you can do it anywhere in Russia, but here, it’s special.”

Click on any image below to launch the Church At World’s End gallery.


Text from the AP news story, AP PHOTOS: Russian priest finds peace at world’s south end, by Luis Andres Henao.


See more photos of Antarctica by Natacha Pisarenko


Spotlight is the blog of AP Images, the world’s largest collection of historical and contemporary photos. AP Images provides instant access to AP’s iconic photos and adds new content every minute of every day from every corner of the world, making it an essential source of photos and graphics for professional image buyers and commercial customers.  Whether your needs are for editorial, commercial, or personal use, AP Images has the content and the expert sales team to fulfill your image requirements. Visit to learn more.


Written content on this site is not created by the editorial department of AP, unless otherwise noted. 



AP Images on Twitter | AP Images on Facebook | AP Images on Google+



One thought on “Church At World’s End

  1. My fiancé and I are going there in February and want to get married at the church. I was wondering if you know how to contact them about doing a wedding…nothing formal, just short and sweet 🙂

    Thanks in advance!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: