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Sunday, 14 April 2013
Beautiful Orthodox Churches of Russia No. 7
Topic: Beautiful Orthodox Churches

 

Situated just south of the Moscow Kremlin is the Holy Protection Cathedral at the Saints Martha and Mary Convent. Built between 1908 and 1912 by the Russian architect Aleksei Viktorovich Shchusev (1873-1949), is considered one of Russia's most remarkable examples of Art Nouveau style.

It is interesting to note that Shchusev also built the Lenin Mausoleum which houses the mummified remains of Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin.

The frescoes and icons of the church are the work of painter Mikhail Nesterov

The frescoes and icons of the church are the work of painter Mikhail Nesterov, a protogé of the railway tycoon Savva Mamontov. Nesterov's works are noted for their lyrical colours, beautiful design and the accessible saintliness of the personage he depicts on his icons and frescoes.

The sisterhood of Saints Martha and Mary was founded in 1905 by the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, the sister of the last Russian empress, Alexandra Feodorovna. When her husband Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich was killed by a terrorist bomb, the widowed Grand Duchess organized the semi-monastic order called the Sisters of Charity and devoted the rest of her life to aiding the sick and the wounded. On July 1918 she was murdered at Alapaevsk, along with other members of the Russian Imperial family.

In 1922 the Bolsheviks removed valuable gold and silver objects such as ikon oklads, rizas, gospel covers, crosses and other ecclesiastical and liturgical objects.

In 1926, the smaller Church of SS Martha & Mary was closed, though the remaining nuns were able to remove over 200 icons and the “royal doors” from the cathedral by moving them to the Holy Protection Cathedral. Shortly after this, the order was officially disbanded, and eighteen of the remaining nuns were exiled to Turkestan in Central Asia.

In 1928, both churches were finally closed, looted, pillaged, and desecrated. The frescos by Nesterov were covered and the church was turned into a movie theater. From 1945, the Church was used by the Grabar Institute as an icon and painting restoration studio.

In 1992 the celebration of divine services was resumed in the Church of Martha and Mary, and in 1994 the sisterhood was re-established.

In 1999 the Educational Center of the SS Martha and Mary Convent of Mercy was founded, with the blessings of Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia (1929-2008), for the purpose of training Orthodox girls as certified nurses.

The Holy Protection Cathedral was returned to the Russian Orthodox Church in 2006. It has undergone restoration and now holds regular services. 

The gates of the Martha and Mary Convent 

The Martha and Mary Convent is situated at Ulitsa Bolshaya Ordynka, 34 and is open to worshippers and visitors. In 1990, a monument to the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna was erected in the courtyard and can be seen to this day.

© Royal Russia. 14 April, 2013



Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:15 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 14 April 2013 7:23 AM EDT
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