The cupolas of the newly reconstructed St. Catherine's Cathedral dominate the skyline of Tsarskoe Selo once again
The 300th anniversary of Tsarskoe Selo ended with an event of great historical significance for Holy Russia on Sunday, 27 June, 2010 when His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia performed the consecration of St. Catherine’s Cathedral in Tsarskoe Selo. The consecration ceremony was broadcast live on television as well as on large screens installed outside the cathedral and was attended by St. Petersburg Governor Valentina Matviyenko.
St. Catherine's Cathedral, Tsarskoe Selo
The majestic five-domed St. Catherine’s Cathedral was originally constructed in Tsarskoe Selo by the famous architect Konstantin Ton, and built in the style of the Suzdal churches. It was founded in 1835 by order of Emperor Nicholas I. The original consecration of the Cathedral took place on November 24, 1840, the commemoration day of the Saint Martyr Catherine, in the presence of Emperor Nicholas I and the Tsarevich Alexander Nikolayevich (the future Emperor Alexander II).
A view of the central dome of the cathedral
Among the interior decoration of the temple stood a carved gilded five-tiered iconostasis, the icons of which were made by famous artists. One the altar of one of the chapels were two beautiful images by the great masters - " The Crucifixion " of Anthony Van Dyck and the " Glory of God " by Paolo Veronese . Also, in the cathedral was the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God adorned with precious stones.
The cathedral was packed with worshippers
In 1917, the first new martyr of the Russian Orthodox Church - Rev. John Kochurov was buried in the crypt of St. Catherine's Cathedral. He had been killed by the Bolsheviks in October 1917, five days after the storming of the Winter Palace in Petrograd.
A view of the main iconostasis of the cathedral
In 1922 the church was looted and in 1938 it was permanently closed. A year later the cathedral was blown up by order of the Soviets. A monument to Lenin was erected in its place, his statue stood on the remains of the cathedral for more than 40 years.
Attendance by His Holiness Patriarch Kirill and St. Petersburg Governor Valentina Matviyenko ensured a heavy police presence
In 1995 the Parish of St. Sophia Cathedral installed a cross next to the statue of Lenin. Regular prayers were held on the spot of the former cathedral, and several years later, the Council for the Conservation of Cultural Heritage of the Government of St. Petersburg made the decision to rebuild the St. Catherine’s Cathedral in Tsarskoe Selo.
Grand Duchess Maria Vladiirovna bearing royal gifts for the reconstructed cathedral
Reconstruction of the new cathedral began in 2006, and was based on old drawings and photographs. Construction was carried out with funds from voluntary donations from businesses, patrons, as well as residents of St. Petersburg and Pushkin. The cathedral was originally scheduled to open 7 December, 2009, the day of St. Catherine, but work was delayed due to limited funding.
St. Catherine's Cathedral from a vintage postcard
On June 5th, Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, Head of the Russian Imperial House visited the cathedral. A royal gift which consisted of the relics of St. Catherine and an icon of Our Lady where presented to the cathedral by Her Imperial Highness. The royal gift was in honour of the 300th anniversary of Tsarskoe Selo.
St. Catherine's Cathedral as it looks today
Governor Valentina Matviyenko said that last year when she was informed that St. Catherine’s Cathedral would be consecrated, that she made a firm decision, no matter how difficult, that she would be present for the opening. “I am happy to be present today, because this is an historic event of great importance”, she said –“in place of defilement, disorder, barbarism, and robbery, we have found such marvellous beauty. "
The height of the cathedral reaches 53 metres, comprises five domes, and can accommodate up to two thousand parishioners. Residents of Tsarskoe Selo and Pushkin are proud to have this majestic cathedral once again dominate their historic city.
Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia
29 June, 2010