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Topic: Russian Church
The site of the Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow is a very important one for urban developers. After the revolution this, along with ideological principles, became the reason for the decision to destroy the Cathedral. The plan entailed constructing a grandiose Palace of Soviets on the site of the Cathedral. This palace was meant to be the largest building in the world - a monument to victorious socialism and Lenin - the leader of the world proletariat. A new Moscow, with no vestiges of the "cursed past and its' monuments" was to arise around this Palace. A massive wave of propaganda preceded the actual destruction. The newspapers wrote, "the Cathedral is grotesque and totally inartistic", that "the Cathedral is a poisonous mushroom on Moscow's face" and that it was "a source of slothfulness" and so forth.
The first explosions rocked the Cathedral at noon on December 5, 1931, as per the decision of Stalin's politburo. The memorial to military glory and the most important church in Russia was brutally vandalized and destroyed.
It took more than a year to clear the debris from the site. Some of the marble from the walls and marble benches from the cathedral were used in nearby Moscow Metro stations. The original marble high reliefs were preserved and are now on display at the Donskoy Monastery. For a long time, these were the only reminders of the largest Orthodox church ever built.
Russia sank ever deeper into the destructive gloom of atheism…
In February 1990, the Russian Orthodox Church received permission from the Soviet Government to rebuild the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. A temporary cornerstone was laid by the end of the year. The restorer Aleksey Denisov was called upon to design a replica of extraordinary accuracy.
Christ the Saviour Cathedral dominates the Moscow skyline
The lower church was consecrated to the Saviour's Transfiguration in 1996, and the completed Cathedral of Christ the Saviour was consecrated on the Transfiguration Day, 19 August 2000.
In 2000 the cathedral was the venue for the Canonization of the Romanovs when the last Tsar Nicholas II and his family were glorified as saints. On 17 May 2007, the Act of Canonical Communion between the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia was signed there. The full restoration of communion with the Moscow Patriarchate was celebrated by a Divine Liturgy at which the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, Alexis II and the First Hierarch of ROCOR, Metropolitan Laurus, concelebrated the Divine Liturgy for the first time in history.
© Paul Gilbert. 10 February, 2013