Presidential Library Developing History of the Holy Synod Collection Topic: Russian Church
Headquarters of the Holy Synod of the Russian Empire in St. Petersburg from 1835 to 1917 and from 2009 to present day
Note: this article has been edited from its original by Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia
By May 2016, the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library in St. Petersburg will have created a collection titled "Holy Synod in the History of the Russian State", which will include more than 1,000 units.
The activities of one of the two highest authorities of the Russian Empire, will show the impact of the Holy Synod not only on the spiritual but also on the social, and political developments of the country. This project is quite important for the Presidential Library because it is located in a historic complex, which housed the meetings of the Holy Synod from 1835 to 1917. In 2009, when the library opened, the Holy Synod returned to St. Petersburg. Two tablets were placed on the facade of the building at 3, Senate Square: the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Through its project the first national electronic library will show the diversity of development of this authority before the revolution, digitize the books and archival files from the library of the Holy Synod, which after the revolution were scattered around the country and abroad, collect the outstanding publications of the Synodal Press, and the history of life of its Chief Procurators.
By now, a number of editions have been digitized. Work is ongoing in cooperation with the Russian State Historical Archive, Tobolsk Historical and Architectural Museum, St. Petersburg State University, and the Moscow Theological Academy and Seminary.
The library’s comprehensive website already makes available digitized copies of documents from the Holy Synod archive: certificates of birth and death of famous compatriots, register of visits of important guests, legislative activities of the Holy Synod, reports of the Chief Procurator Konstantin Petrovich Pobedonostsev (1827-1907), codes of decrees, photos and other documents. The Presidential Library collection also contains digital copies of the "Church Bulletin issued under the Holy Governing Synod." The edition was published from 1888 twice a month and was the official press organ of the Synod. The journal was supplemented by a literary, journalistic piece, "Additions to the church Bulletin", which included selected patristic works, sermons of modern clergymen of the Russian Church, theological articles and church-historical notes.
The history of the Holy Synod began in the 18th century with the church reforms conducted by Emperor Peter I. In 1723, the newly formed department was recognized by Constantinople Patriarch Jeremiah III as an «equally patriarchal brother in Christ." From that moment began, in fact, a new chapter in the history of Russian Church: if with autocephaly of Constantinople in appointing metropolitans (and, of course, the patriarch afterwards) temporal power, having taking control over the ecclesiastical regiment hierarchically, was still looking back at the authority of pastors and bishops, now the "anointed power" both de jure and de facto took over the control of the "anointing power." The key figure in this scheme was the "sovereign's eye" - the Chief Procurator of the Synod.
In addition to its "direct" spiritual duties, the Holy Synod also performed a number of functions that depended primarily on the ambitions and abilities of the Chief Procurator. For example, Empress Catherine II, admiring the collection of ancient manuscripts of Musin-Pushkin appointed the latter chief procurator of the Holy Synod, instructing the agency to continue collecting ancient manuscripts. In just one year, the dioceses collected over one hundred books.
In the 18th century the figure of Chief Procurator rose continually. For example, Emperor Nicholas I already spoke of himself as of "the head of the Church." However, the Chief Procurator became particularly influential by 1880, when the post was taken by Konstantin Petrovich Pobedonostsev - tutor of the royal family and of the heir to the throne, in particular.
The personality of Pobedonostsev was deep, complex and contradictory. In his youth, he wrote a paper on the liberalization of political system of the empire, while in the "Moscow collection" he inveighed against "false constitutional views." He was close friend of the Russian writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky, whom he established friendly relations with. At the same time, his hostility to Leo Tolstoy was growing (later the chief procurator supported the excommunication from the church of the latter).
Having digitized not only books about the time of Pobedonostsev, but also his correspondence, reports and other materials, the Presidential Library will study the personalities of other chief procurators and members of the Holy Synod. During this work it expects many historical discoveries and findings.
"To the River Jordan" Russian Orthodox Christians Celebrate Epiphany Topic: Russian Church
Epiphany. Artist: Anton Ovsyannikov. 2002
Today, Russian Orthodox believers are marking the feast of Theophany, which is broadly known here as the Baptism of the Lord.
Click on the link below to watch a VIDEO of Emperor Nicholas II attending the Blessing of the Water on the Feast of St. Theophany (Epiphany) at the Stavka, the headquarters of the Russian Imperial Army in Mogliev, 19 January 1915
Historic Orthodox Cathedral in Nice Opens After Restoration Topic: Russian Church
The construction of St. Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral was funded by Emperor Nicholas II, who donated 700,000 francs
Note: this article has been edited and updated from its original by Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia
The famous St. Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral in Nice, France, will open its doors to the public today, as the two-year-long restoration works have been completed. A consecration ceremony will be held today. It was timed to coincide with the Baptism of Jesus. The restoration works were financed by the Russian Government under an order from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The St. Nicholas Cathedral, which was founded over a century ago, has a long and complicated history.
Construction on the cathedral began in 1903 and completed in 1912 - funded partially be Emperor Nicholas II, who donated 700,000 Francs from his personal funds. The cathedral was built on the site where his uncle, Tsesarevich and Grand Duke Nicholas Alexandrovich (son of Emperor Alexander II) had died at the Villa Bermond in April 1865. The land on which the church was built had been purchased by Alexander II shortly after his son’s death. St. Nicholas Cathedral, the largest Russian Orthodox Cathedral outside Russia, was consecrated on 17 December (O.S. 4 December) 1912.
Just two years ago, France’s Court of Cassation confirmed Russia’s rights to the St. Nicholas Cathedral. The legal proceedings took over six years. The building was in a critical condition. There was also a need for finishing the frescoes and decoration works.
Earlier, the French court admitted twice that Russia was the “sole and rightful owner” of the St. Nicholas Cathedral. However, those decisions were disputed by the AKOR Association. Its members claimed that the cathedral was built using the funds of the French Emperor instead of the Russian government.
According to lawyer Alain Confino, Russia’s rights to the cathedral were definitively proved in court. Lawyers had to spend hours working on archives to prove the legal continuity of Russia’s rights and inform French experts of the history of the Russian Orthodox Church.
As reported by the Information Service of the Russkiy Mir Foundation, many rich and influential Russians lived in Nice a hundred years ago. The existing Orthodox cathedral was too small for all parishioners, which prompted the community to build a larger church. The project was financed by the Russian Emperor, the local community and Russian elite. The five-domed cathedral was built using local materials, with the building blending in the Mediterranean landscape.
The cathedral, built as per the design of architect Mikhail Preobrazhensky, is considered one of the most beautiful Russian cathedrals abroad. It is also on the list of France’s historical monuments.
Restoration of Resurrection Cathedral at the New Jerusalem Monastery Complete Topic: Russian Church
The Resurrection Cathedral, New Jerusalem Monastery
The reconstruction and restoration of the Resurrection Cathedral at the New Jerusalem Monastery is now complete, the historic cathedral is once again ready for worship. Situated in the town of Istra, which is about 40 kilometers (25 miles) west of Moscow, the monastery was founded in the 17th century by Patriarch Nikon. The Russian Orthodox Church have not yet set a date for the consecration of the cathedral.
In the historical documents of the 17th century, the main cathedral of the New Jerusalem Monastery was called the Great Church of the Resurrection. It was conceived by Patriarch Nikon in the image of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Holy Land, but its fate over the centuries has not been an easy one. In 1723, the rotunda roof collapsed, a fire three years later caused further damage. For the next twenty years, the church stood virtually without a roof. The final blow came in December 1941, when the Nazis blew up the Resurrection Cathedral along with other monastery buildings.
"For the first time in its 360-year history, the cathedral has been completely restored. All that we have dreamed of and waiting for all these years has finally been accomplished today", - said the governor of the New Jerusalem Monastery Abbot Feofilakt Stavropegic (Bezukladnikov).
During the past few years both locals and Orthodox Christians watched patiently the restoration progress of the Resurrection Cathedral, including the gradual recreation of the unique 12-tiered 24-meter iconostasis made of delicately restored tiles.
In March 2009, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a presidential decree for the restoration and renovation of the New Jerusalem Monastery, considered to be amongst the largest and most ambitious reconstruction and restoration projects in post-Soviet Russia.
For more information on the restoration of the Resurrection Cathedral and New Jerusalem Monastery, please refer to the following articles:
St. Isaac's Cathedral Holds First Christmas Eve Liturgy in 88 Years Topic: Russian Church
St. Isaac’s Cathedral, St. Petersburg's largest Orthodox cathedral, opened its doors on 6 January for a Christmas Eve liturgy, the first time since 1928.
Several thousand Orthodox believers attended the divine liturgy which began at midnight on 6 January, the day before Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas on 7 January in line with the Julian calendar. The Divine Liturgy was headed by Archpriest Aleksei Isayev, the senior priest of the cathedral.
Built in 1818-1858, St. Isaac's Cathedral was originally the city's main church and the largest cathedral in Russia. After the Revolution, the church was plundered in May 1922, the Bolsheviks seizing 48 kg of gold products, and more than 2 tons of silver jewellery. Its rector Archpriest Leonid Epiphany (1872-1937) was arrested on 29 April, 1922, murdered by the Bolsheviks on 20 November, 1937 for "anti-Soviet activities". In 1928 liturgies were discontinued, and the cathedral was permanently closed. On 12 April, 1931 St Isaac’s Cathedral opened as the State Antireligious Museum.
Today, St Isaac’s Cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a state-run museum and monument, attracting 3.2 million tourists last year. Despite its museum status Divine litugies resumed at St. Isaac’s Cathedral in 1990, but only morning liturgies were held on Christmas Day. Evening liturgies were held only at Easter.
In the summer of 2015 the St. Petersburg Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church appealed to the city government with a request to return St. Isaac’s Cathedral, but the city authorities voted that the cathedral would remain the responsibility of the State Memorial Museum.
For more information on the ROC's request to return St. Isaac's Cathedral, please refer to the following articles:
On This Day: Metropolitan Tikhon Elected Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Topic: Russian Church
On 9 October, 1989 Tikhon (Belavin) was canonized during the Bishops Council of the Russian Orthodox Church
Note: this article has been edited by Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia
On 17 November (O.S. 4 November), 1917, in full swing of revolution, the Local Council of Russian Orthodox Church approved the decree on re-establishing of patriarchate, abolished in 1721 due to the adoption of the synodal control system in Russian Orthodox Church.
The next day, on 18 November (O.S. 5 November) 1917, in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow the elections of the patriarch were held. The blind old man Alexei Zosimovsky drew lots from three candidates determined by the Council voting (metropolitan of Kharkov - Antony (Khrapovitsky), of Novgorod - Arseny (Stadnitsky) and of Moscow – Tikhon (Belavin)). The new head of the church became the president of the Council metropolitan of Moscow Tikhon. The enthronement took place on 4 December (O.S. 21 November) on the day of Presentation of the Holy Virgin in the Temple in Assumption cathedral in the Moscow Kremlin.
The reestablishment of the patriarchate occurred in the moment when the country’s rule was in the hands of the political party that was negatively set against the religious institutions. From its side the church was expressing its rejection of the forcible change of political system in the country. That is why the relationship between the new state power and the primate of Russian Orthodox Church were from the very beginning of conflict character.
On 1 February (O.S. 19 January) 1918 the patriarch addressed his flock pronouncing the anathema to the godless rule. It meant that the orthodox population of the country could not acknowledge the Soviet rule legally sound.
As soon as the next day the Soviet of the Peoples’ Commissars approved and published on 5 February (O.S. 23 January) the decree “On separation of the church from the state, and the school from the church”. The decree deprived the church of all its properties and limited its influence on all the fields of social life.
“When Patriarch Tikhon learned of the vengeful execution of the Royal Family in 1918, he commanded that Panikhidas (requiems) be served for Nicolas II as the slain Tsar—regardless of the fact that he abdicated the throne; regardless of the fact that under the Bolshevik terror this was dangerous for the Patriarch himself; regardless, finally, of the fact that ironically, it was the Tsarist government that had for 200 years prevented the restoration of the Patriarchy in general, and would have prevented his becoming Patriarch in particular.”
- Georgiy Velikanov
As the civil war was progressing, the conflict between the church and the Soviet developed. More than once the patriarch was put under house arrest and in May of 1922 an action was brought against him in order to institute criminal proceedings. After the patriarch had written a statement on his repentance for “anti-Soviet deeds”, on 21 March, 1924 the Supreme Court of the RSFSR closed his case.
On 7 April, 1925, on Annunciation Day, the patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Tikhon died at the age of 60. The permission to elect the next patriarch was given only during the Great Patriotic War, on 8 September, 1943.
On 9 October, 1989 Tikhon (Belavin) was canonized during the Bishops Council of the Russian Orthodox Church. The relics of the prelate are kept in the great cathedral of Donskoy Monastery.
On This Day: The Resurrection of Christ the Saviour Cathedral (Smolny Cathedral) was Founded Topic: Russian Church
The Resurrection of Christ the Saviour Cathedral (Smolny Cathedral), St. Petersburg
On 10 November (O.S. 30 October) 1748 in St. Petersburg to the design of the architect Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli was founded the Resurrection of the Christ the Saviour (Smolny) Cathedral of the Novodevichiy Convent.
Having ascended the throne the Empress Elizabeth of Russia (Elizaveta Petrovna) “… in order to provide a peaceful shelter for orphan young girls, who wanted to spend life in seclusion and piety… expressed a will to turn the refuge of her first youth [“Smolny House”] into a convent”.
Construction of the convent ensemble was assigned to an outstanding Russian architect of Italian origin Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli. Preparatory works were launched in 1744 and four years later, on 10 November (O.S. 30 October) 1748 was laid the cathedral’s foundation stone. Under the Highest Order the Archbishop Simon conducted a service in the Church of the Horse Guards Regiment, went around the Smolny Palace with a cross procession, in the presence of the Empress laid a foundation stone of the new convent, which was given the name of Voskresensky after the Resurrection of the Christ the Savior Cathedral. The convent’s ensemble is a cross-shaped square, formed by the buildings of monastic cells and a widows’ house, with a cathedral as its centerpiece. Built on the site of the Smolyanoy Dvor (taryard), the convent was called Smolny, though officially it was known as Voskresensky Novodevichiy Convent.
By 1761 the cathedral had been almost completed, however as the Seven Years’ War broke out the construction works slowed down, while after the death of Empress Elizabeth of Russia they came to nought.
During the reign of Empress Catherine II convent’s buildings with cells were used to accommodate the Educational Society of Noble Maidens (Smolny Institute), which later moved to another building.
In the late 1820s following the instructions of Emperor Nicholas I were mounted works targeted at completion of the cathedral, which were only finished in 1832s-1835s under the direction of the architect Vasiliy Petrovich Stasov.
On 1 August (O.S. 20 July) 1835 the convent was consecrated in the presence of the Emperor Nicholas I, members of his family and top officials. By the imperial order during the consecration the cathedral was called the Cathedral of All Educational Institutions in commemoration of the Empress Maria Feodorovna, widow of Emperor Paul I, who used to donate large sums of money to the public education.
After the 1917 revolution most valuable church belongings were confiscated, the cathedral itself was turned into as a warehouse.
In 1974 the cathedral housed the branch of the Museum of Leningrad History, and from 1990 here has been operating a concert and exhibition hall “Smolny Cathedral”.
Today in the Smolny Cathedral you can listen to religious, classical and modern music, enjoy the performance of well-known Russian and foreign musicians, or take part in photo and art exhibitions. Here take place contests and intellectual games for pupils. Along with the eventful concert, exhibition and educational activities, in summer the cathedral always undertakes restoration and modernization works.
On April 7th, 2010, for the first time in 90 years, a divine liturgy was celebrated in the cathedral. In April 2013, the Russian media reported that the Smolny Cathedral would be returned to the Russian Orthodox Church - PG.
On This Day: Cathedral of Christ the Saviour Founded in Moscow Topic: Russian Church
Stunning nightime view of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour set against the backdrop of snow covered Moscow
On September 22 (O.S. September 10), 1839 the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour was solemnly founded by the Metropolitan of Moscow Filaret on the Alexeevsky hill in Moscow to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the end of the Patriotic War and storming of Paris in March of 1814.
The idea to build the cathedral in order to mark the rescue of the Motherland appeared already in 1812. Originally the magnificent building was planned to be built by the design of the architect A. L. Vitberg, but in 1832 the new project prepared by the architect K.A. Thon was approved instead. The place for the erection was chosen by the Emperor Nicholas himself. It was the territory of the old Alexeevsky monastery, whereas the monastery itself was decided to move to Krasnoye Selo (today the Novo-Alexeevky monastery). Money for building was collected in all the churches of Russia, the enormous sum totaling over 15 mil. roubles was provided by the treasury.
The laying of the foundation stone of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour was a national holiday with military parade and a procession through Moscow to honor veterans of the Patriotic War of 1812 and the prayers for those who perished on the battlefields.
22 (O.S. 10) September 1839 "...Russia’s mother - Moscow seethed in solemn ecstasy, ... Moscow residents flocked from all sides to the place of the solemn procession. The army already in order deployed from the Assumption Cathedral to the very place of foundation of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. On the other side, to the right of the Cathedral of the Assumption, on sidewalks, in windows and on rooftops crowded spectators of the great capital; everywhere prevailed silence .... " The solemn procession - the clergy in full vestments, the emperor and the entire retinue followed on horseback, "... to the place of execution, by the church of St. Basil, along the embankment and Prechistenka by Carriage Court; it was led by Saint Filaret, Metropolitan of Moscow and Kolomna.
Upon arrival at the foundation site and having pronounced a prayer, Emperor Nicholas I in the base of the temple laid a cruciform bronze plaque with the inscription: "In the summer of 1839, the day of September 10th, by order of the Great Sovereign Emperor Nicholas Pavlovich the sacred vow, given by Emperor Alexander I who had passed away, is to be fulfilled by his own hand of Emperor Nicholas, failing to erect a temple of Christ the Saviour on the Sparrow Hills, as planned before, the foundation stone is laid at this place for the construction of the temple thereof.
The cathedral was being built from 1839 to 1883. Its height from the base to the cross reached 103.5 m, the wall thickness was 3 m 20 cm. The double walls had corridors, which contained 177 marble memorials with the description of the events of the Patriotic War of 1812 and Russian campaigns 1813–1814 in the chronological order. The cathedral was decorated by 38 painters: V. V. Vereshchagin, V. I. Surikov, K. E. Makovsky, F. A. Bruni, I. N. Kramskoy, G. I. Semiradsky etc.
The solemn ceremony of the cathedral’s opening took place on 26 May 1883, the year of Alexander III coronation. The veterans of the Patriotic War of 1812 were invited to the ceremony.
On 5 December 1931 the cathedral-memorial of military glory was destroyed by the explosion. It was decided to build the Palace of Soviets (height 500 m.) on its place, but the Great Patriotic War broke out and the building was disassembled. In 1958 the swimming-pool “Moskva” was constructed on this place.
In 1989 it was decided to rebuild the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, and in 1990 a temporary cornerstone was laid to the east of the pool. By December 2000 the decoration work was completed. The new cathedral differs from the original one by the stylobate part (too prolonged basement floor) that houses the Museum, the Hall of Church Assemblies, the Church of the Transfiguration, the Conference Hall of the Most Holy Governing Synod, refectory chambers and different technical services. However the new cathedral includes some old elements – marble memorial plaques from the bypass corridors and the fragments of the main iconostasis.
The interior of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour as it looks today
After the restoration the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour became the Cathedral of the Metropolitan of Moscow, where the main church festive services are held.
St. Isaac's Cathedral to Remain a Museum Despite Request From Orthodox Church Topic: Russian Church
St. Isaac's Cathedral, St. Petersburg
St. Isaac's Cathedral in St. Petersburg will remain the responsibility of the State Memorial Museum after city authorities decided not to transfer it into the care of the Russian Orthodox Church, as the church had requested, the city governor's spokesman Andrei Kibitov wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.
He published an official letter from the deputy governor Alexander Govorunov — acting governor while Georgy Poltavchenko attends the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok — stating that if the cathedral were operated by the church, the maintenance costs would have to be covered by the city budget, and it is too great a burden in a “tough economic situation.”
“Every year the museum spends up to 200 million rubles ($3 million) on restoration works and maintenance. It also pays up to 70 million rubles ($1 million) in taxes to the city budget. Urgent restoration works will require 750 million rubles ($11.2 million) — part of which will be budget funding — until 2020,” Govorunov wrote in the letter.
If these expenses were laid fully on the city budget, funding for other social projects and programs would have to be cut, the acting governor added, concluding that it would be more rational to keep the cathedral within museum operations.
The letter, according to Kibitov's Twitter account, was sent to the St. Petersburg branch of the Russian Orthodox Church on Wednesday.
The Russian Orthodox Church's request to take over the cathedral was addressed to Georgy Poltavchenko, the governor of St. Petersburg, in late July.
St Isaac's Cathedral is St. Petersburg's third most-visited cultural site and listed as an UNESCO cultural asset. The Soviet government turned the cathedral into a museum, but today the space is periodically used for church services.
Tsar Nicholas II Bell Established in the Urals - One of Russia's Largest Topic: Russian Church
The Tsar Nicholas II Bell - which depicts the images of the Holy Royal Martrs - weighing 16.5 tons was installed earlier this week in the bell tower of the Transfiguration Cathedral in St. Nicholas Monastery in Verkhoturye (Sverdlovsk region), a major spiritual center in the Urals. The bell is the third largest in the Archdiocese of Yekaterinburg and one of the twenty largest bells in Russia.
The installation of the bell has been heralded as an historic event, after overcoming numerous obstacles. The bell was delivered to the monastery back in January, however, it’s enormous size was too large to fit into the bell tower passage. As the cathedral is designated an architectural monument, any alterations to the structure had to wait for government approvals and permits to increase the size of the passage. Finally, on August 4th, the bell was hoisted by a giant crane and mounted on the central beam of the bell tower.
The creation of the main bell for the Verkhotursky Monastery was adopted six years ago, a joint decision of the church and regional authorities. The Tsar Nicholas II Bell was produced by the Ural factory Pyatkova in the city of Kamensk. The total cost of the Tsar Nicholas II Bell was nearly 13 million rubles. Nearly half of the money collected - about 6 million rubles - plus the copper and tin was provided by the Ural Mining and Metallurgical Company (UMMC).
According to Archdeacon Dmitry Bazhanov, “with the main bell now in place, work can proceed on the installation of another 12 bells”, at the St. Nicholas Monastery in Verkhoturye. The remaining 12 bells, each weighing from 6 kg to 1140 kg, will be installed over the next 4 to 6 weeks. Once installed and the intricate ringing system arranged, the Verkhotursky bell tower will be one of the best in the Yekaterinburg diocese, and one of the finest bell towers of the Russian Orthodox Church.
St. Nicholas Monastery in Verkhoturye (Sverdlovsk region). Transfiguration Cathedral with bell tower (left), Holy Cross Cathedral (right).