Monday, April 9, 2018

Cathedrals tell history of St. Petersburg

After taking the high-speed train to Moscow for a long day of touring there, we returned to St. Petersburg, Russia. For the next day’s tour we visited three cathedrals which gave us a rich introduction to the city’s culture, architecture, and history.
Spilled Blood

The Church of Spilled Blood is one of the most beautiful in St. Petersburg.
Church of Spilled Blood is actually the Church of Resurrection of Our Savior. The blood referred to is Alexander’s—he was assassinated at that spot in 1881. The cathedral was built as a monument to freedom, since he abolished slavery and allowed people to practice Christianity undisturbed. Modeled after a cathedral in Moscow, it is a filled with color. The exterior features nine onion-dome cupolas covered in gold, enamel, and some of the most incredible mosaics anywhere.
Gilded walls and beautiful mosaics decorate the cathedral.
During the oppression of Stalin’s rule, many churches were torn down. Scheduled for demolition in 1941, Stalin claimed the Cathedral of Spilled Blood was too colorful and its fancy domes stood out from the dull, drab style common in St. Petersburg at the time. Instead treasures were put there for safekeeping in World War II, and it was protected from any aircraft damage.

Thank goodness this gorgeous
building and its domes were not
destroyed as planned.
Khruschev decided to restore it as a beautiful museum rather than a church in 1957. Restoration to its previous glorious state took 24 years. Today Sunday services are held there amid tiers of Russian icons that tell stories of Bible characters. While this is a positive return to the religion represented by the church, Russian Orthodox churches do not have pews, so people are obligated to stand throughout the hours-long services.
St. Issac’s

St. Issac Square in the center of the city is dominated by magnificent St. Isaac Cathedral, built between 1818 and 1858. The cathedral is named after a monk of Dalmatian descent whose Saint’s Day is the same as Peter the Great’s birthday (May 20). Its gorgeous conical gold dome makes the cathedral the fourth highest in the world.
St. Isaac's Cathedral is decorated
with 14 colored marbles and 43
types of semiprecious stones.
Peter married Catherine I at this cathedral. Originally made of wood, Catherine wanted it rebuilt in granite and marble, but her son Paul took the marble and used it for another palace. So the cathedral  is built in a classical style of brick—not as impressive as Catherine had intended.

Granite intended for ancient cathedral
was used for another palace. 
Still, it is filled with hundreds of impressive 19th century works of art. White marble with gilding and mosaic icons decorate the cathedral. There’s a glimmering sculpture of Christ of Glory, and many pieces where the stones were laid out so smoothly that mosaics appear as paintings. 

Corinthian columns of Kazan Cathedral were inspired by St. Peter's Cathedral in Rome.
Named for a city in Russia in the 16th century, Kazan Cathedral is known for its elegant dome, marble mosaic floor, and 56 granite monolithic columns inspired by St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome. Its unique bronze sculptures and doors were compared by Michelangelo to Heaven’s doors.
Another view of the cathedral
Kazan Cathedral was built as a monument of joy after the victory over Napoleon in 1812 and became a pantheon of Russian glory.

Its iconic feature is a famous, ornate, “miracle-making” representation of Our Lady of Kazan. People still line up to make requests of Our Lady of Kazan. I don’t doubt that many miracles have happened because of these supplications.

Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier


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