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Saturday, 11 June 2016
On This Day: St. Isaac's Cathedral Consecrated in St. Petersburg
Topic: Russian Church


A stunning moonlit view of St. Isaac's Cathedral in St. Petersburg
Photo © Kirill Kaachkov
 
Note: this article has been edited and revised from its original by Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia

On 11 June (O.S. 30 May) 1858 a new cathedral of the Russian Orthodox Church – St. Isaac’s Cathedral was consecrated in St. Petersburg.

In 1710 on the decree of Peter the Great a small wooden church was erected in St. Petersburg near the Russian Admiralty. The church was consecrated in honour of Saint Isaac of Dalmatia, a patron saint of Peter the Great.

In 1717-1727 a small stone church, designed by the architect Georg Johann Mattarnovy, was constructed on this site. Some years later due to an uneven land subsidence the church’s vaults and walls started to crack and the fire of 1735, caused by lightning, which struck the spire, causing destruction on the church.

The construction of a third church to the design of the famed Italian architect Antonio Rinaldi (1710-1794) was launched in 1768. Building of the church turned out protracted, Rinaldi left Russia and the construction was finished by the court architect of the Emperor Paul I - Vincenzo Brenna.

Unfortunately, the new church did not harmonize with the grand buildings located in the heart of St. Petersburg, so a contest for a new cathedral was announced in 1809. It brought together the finest architects of that time: A. N. Voronihin, A. D. Zaharov, Q. Quarenghi and many others. All of the project’s participants came with a proposal to completely demolish the old cathedral. However it contradicted the principal contest’s condition — Emperor Alexander I ordered to preserve the old church’s altars and add them in the new cathedral’s construction. It was due to this condition that the contest in 1813 didn’t bear fruit. The young French architect Auguste Montferrand was charged to prepare proposals on the reconstruction of the St. Isaac’s Cathedral. The construction works covered 40 years from 1818 to 1858.
 


Breathtaking interior views of St. Isaac's Cathedral
 
The ceremony of the church’s consecration was conducted on 11 June (O.S. 30 May 1858 on the feast day of the Saint Isaac of Dalmatia, and was attended by Emperor Alexander II and members of the Emperor’s family. On the eve of the consecration ceremony was published the “Consecration ceremony of the St. Petersburg Cathedral in honour of Saint Isaac of Dalmatia on 30 May 1858”, which specified the procedure of holding of the consecration ceremony in the cathedral’s three side altars: the main altar — on 30 May, and the side altars — 1 and 8 June.

On the day of the consecration ceremony regiments in full dress uniform were drawn up around the cathedral. Platforms for people were constructed in the Peter’s (Senate) and St. Isaac’s Squares, nearby streets and roofs of neighbouring houses were overcrowded with curious onlookers. The ceremony of the cathedral’s consecration began at 9:00 in the morning and lasted until 4:00 in the afternoon

The St. Isaac’s Cathedral became one of the world’s major cathedrals, its grand dome was the highest point in the Imperial capital. The cathedral’s decoration brought together over twenty different stones: malachite, marble, lapis lazuli and porphyry, as well as numerous gilded and copper sculptures by Peter Clodt, Ivan Vitaly. The cathedral was painted by the prominent artists of the day, including Karl Bryullov, Feodor Bruni, Vasily Shebuev, among others.

Since its consecration the cathedral became the place for holding the city’s festive occasions. Here were conducted grand divine services in honour of patron saints of member of the Russian Imperial family, accompanied by processions and guard’s parades. Military occasions – dates of glorious victories of the Russian arms - were also celebrated at the cathedral.

In June 1928 the St. Isaac’s Cathedral was closed, and its treasures were confiscated by the Bolsheviks. In 1931 the Anti-religious Museum was opened in the cathedral, and later the cathedral’s building received the status of a museum-memorial.

Divine services were revived at the cathedral only on 17 June 1990, when His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia conducted the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom.

Today divine services at the St. Isaacs Cathedral take place on a regular basis on festive occasions and Sundays.
 
For more information on St. Isaac's Cathedral, please refer to the following articles:

St. Isaac's Cathedral + 3 article and 9 colour photos

© Presidential Library / Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 11 June, 2016
 

 

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:35 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 11 June 2016 8:45 AM EDT
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Friday, 26 February 2016
Postage Stamp Dedicated to Patriarch Tikhon Issued in United States
Topic: Russian Church


The envelope is stamped with the date and the words "First day cancellation. USA. New York. Consulate General of Russia"
 
A postage stamp depicting Patriarch Tikhon (1865-1925) has been issued in the United States. It honours the memory of Patriarch Tikhon who in 1898 was appointed Bishop of the Aleutians and Alaska. During his ten years in the United Statesm he helped translate many Orthodox Christian books into English. On 22 May 1901, he blessed the cornerstone for St. Nicholas Cathedral in New York (fundraising for which had begun in 1894 and to which Emperor Nicholas II contributed 7,500 Rubles in 1900) in a great ceremony, and later opened the first Orthodox seminary in Minneapolis in 1905. 

The presentation and cancellation of the stamp took place on 25th February at the Consulate General of the Russian Federation in New York City. 5,000 copies of the stamp were issued. The event was attended by diplomats, journalists and Bishop John, head of the Russian Orthodox Patriarchal Parishes in the US. 

The stamp was originally issued in Russia on 5th November 2015, marking the 150th anniversary of the birth of Patriarch Tikhon. The stamp depicts a portrait of Patriarch Tikhon with silhouettes of churches in the background.

Tikhon (born Vasily Ivanovich Bellavin) was the first Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia after the Russian Patriarchate was reinstated (1917-1925) in the Soviet Union. 

Patriarch Tikhon managed to preserve Orthodoxy amid revolution, civil war and the turmoil that overwhelmed Russia. He made important steps to normalize relations between the Church and the state, called for an end to bloodshed, opposed decrees on separation of Church and state and on the nationalization of Church property. He openly condemned the killing of Emperor Nicholas II and his family in 1918, and protested against the violent attacks by the Bolsheviks on the Church.

In 1923 Patriarch Tikhon was "deposed" by a Soviet-sponsored council of the so-called Living Church, which decreed that he was "henceforth a simple citizen—Vasily Bellavin." This deposition has never been recognized as an act of the Russian Orthodox Church, and is therefore considered invalid by both the Russian Orthodox Church, and the Russian Federation.

In 1924 the Patriarch fell ill and was hospitalized. On 5 April 1925, he served his last Divine Liturgy, and died two days later, 7 April (O.S. 25 March), the Feast of the Annunciation. He was buried on 12 April in the winter church of Donskoy Monastery in Moscow. 

Patriarch Tikhon was canonized a saint by the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) on 1 November (O.S. 19 October) 1981. He was later glorified by the Moscow Patriarchate during the Bishop’s Council of 9-11 October 1989. The day of glorification of Saint Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, is celebrated on 9 October. The relics of the prelate are kept in the great cathedral of Donskoy Monastery.
 

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 26 February, 2016


 


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 11:51 AM EST
Updated: Friday, 26 February 2016 12:02 PM EST
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Friday, 12 February 2016
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.
 

© Presidential Library / Paul Gilbert. 12 February 2016
 

 

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:39 AM EST
Updated: Friday, 12 February 2016 9:13 AM EST
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Tuesday, 19 January 2016
"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

“To the River Jordan” Russian Orthodox Christians Celebrate Epiphany

© TASS / Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 19 January, 2016
 

 


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:59 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 19 January 2016 9:05 AM EST
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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. 

© Russkiy Mir / TASS / Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 19 January, 2016
 

 

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:18 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 19 January 2016 6:55 AM EST
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Friday, 15 January 2016
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:

New Jerusalem Monastery Reborn: Russia's Equivalent to the Holy Land Reopens its Gates - 8 January, 2015

New Jerusalem Monastery - Restoration Update + VIDEO (in Russian) - 11 November, 2014

New Bell Tower Completed at New Jerusalem Monastery in Moscow - 30 September, 2013

New Jerusalem Monastery to Become Major Exhibition Venue - 24 June, 2012

Restoration of the New Jerusalem Monastery - 3 February, 2012

The Revival of the New Jerusalem Monastery - 5 August, 2011

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 15 January, 2016
 

 

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:00 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 14 January 2016 6:46 PM EST
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Friday, 8 January 2016
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:  

St. Isaac's Cathedral to Remain a Museum Despite Request From Orthodox Church

ROC Seek Return of St. Isaac's Cathedral in St. Petersburg

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 08 January, 2016
 

 

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:21 PM EST
Updated: Sunday, 10 January 2016 8:35 AM EST
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Wednesday, 18 November 2015
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.

© Presidential Library / Edited & Amended by Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 18 November, 2015
 

 

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 11:51 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 18 November 2015 11:57 AM EST
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Tuesday, 10 November 2015
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. 

© Presidential Library / Edited by Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 10 November, 2015
 

 

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:49 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 10 November 2015 8:01 AM EST
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Tuesday, 22 September 2015
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.  

© Presidential Library / Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 22 September, 2015
 

 

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:24 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 22 September 2015 6:35 AM EDT
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