Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Sunday, May 5, 2013

St. Petersburg: Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ

"Christ is Risen! Truly, He is Risen!" That is the greeting and response for today, Pascha! (Orthodox Easter).  I was exchanging this greeting (along with thousands of other Orthodox all over the world) with my fellow parishioners and friends at church last night (and early this morning!) during our midnight Paschal service.

Please enjoy the Youtube music below of Rimsky-Korsokov's Russian Easter Overature, while you peruse my blog post today as I reminisce about a beautiful Cathedral in St. Petersburg...

This glorious cathedral was built on the spot where Emperor Alexander II was assassinated in March 1881. The church was built as a memorial by Tsar Alexander III, Alexander II's son, between 1883 and 1907. It was officially called the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ (a.k.a. The Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood ).

Both the interior and exterior of the church are decorated with incredibly detailed mosaics, designed and created by the most prominent Russian artists of the day (Viktor Vasnetsov, Mikhail Nesterov and Mikhail Vrubel).

The cathedral, never used for regular services - just memorials - was closed in the 1930s, when the Bolsheviks went on an offensive against religion and destroyed churches all over the country. It remained closed under the Soviets; to the minds of the Soviets, the mosaic icons were symbols of the absurdity of religion and monarchy. But in 1970 restoration was begun, and it was finally re-opened in 1997 in all its dazzling former glory.

The view of the church from Nevsky Prospect, with its "onion" domes
 shining brilliantly in the afternoon sun was absolutely breathtaking.
Architecturally, the cathedral is different from other buildings in St. Petersburg. The city's architecture is predominately Baroque and Neoclassical (Peter the Great wanted to create a Western city), but the Church of the Resurrection is closer to Medieval Russian architecture. It intentionally resembles the famous St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow.

I was just as blown away by the interior as I was by the exterior of this incredibly beautiful church!  The magnificent iconostasis ("icon screen") in front of the altar area is carved ivory.  The icons may look like they're painted, but they are all mosaics - tiny little squares of glass.

Here was our view looking up into the main dome...
and a close-up view of the main dome (it is the tradition of the Orthodox Church to depict "God is with us" by having a large "Pantocrator" icon inside the central dome of the church.  Pantocrator means "Ruler of all".)

This photo is the view looking up into a side dome...

As you can see, the outside of the church, also covered with mosaics of various saints, was as beautiful as the inside. 

 It was hard to leave this sacred space...

I can't wait to go back!  In the meantime, I'll have to settle for the memories in my photos.  I'm also reminded of this cathedral whenever I am in my own little parish here in California.  You see, all Orthodox Churches, whether Greek, Antiochian, or Russian share many traditions.  I found a children's book that explains many of the facets of an Orthodox church: the architecture, icons, holy altar, priest's vestments, and more... House of God, by Vyacheslav Marchenko, beautifully illustrated by Elena Stefarova.

 There is nothing like the feeling you get when you walk into a Church
and know to be silent and respectful because it is God's house.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, what a beautiful place! It is amazing that all that is done with tiles! And I love the shape of the basilica-- so Russian!
    The pictures in this book too are so sweet, love the little girl with the candles!