Churches of Antarctica

Antarctica has eight churches: four Catholic, one non-denominational, and three Eastern orthodox.

Trinity Church
José Valenzuela Arce, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The building pictured above is Trinity Church, a Russian Orthodox church on King George Island. Depending on the definition of “church,” this is the southernmost Eastern Orthodox church in the world. (Another one is further south, but it’s technically a chapel rather than a church.) Trinity Church was built in the early 2000s out of wood shipped all the way from Siberia.

Trinity Church is staffed year-round by one or two monks who attend to the religious needs of the nearby Russian research station. They apparently need it, because that station was the site of the first attempted murder in Antarctic history. Unless, of course, you count the still unexplained death of Rodney Marks at the South Pole.

The incident at Bellingshausen Station involved two scientists. Accounts differ about the cause of the dispute: in one version, one scientist wiled away the long Antarctic hours reading novels from the station library; the other apparently delighted in spoiling the endings of those novels. The irked reader stabbed the book spoiler in the heart. An alternative story suggests that one scientist provoked the other by taunting them. Alcohol may have been involved. In any case, the two later made up and the criminal case was dropped.

The Chapel of Our Lady of the Snows, in Argentine territory, is an ice cave. The Chapel of the Snows in the United States’ McMurdo Base is multi-denominational, and it has burned down… twice. So far there are no synagogues, mosques, or temples in the continent.

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