Voices From Russia, Too

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

12 July 2011. Patriarch Kirill Served Liturgy for the 450th Anniversary of the Cathedral of the Protection of the Mother of God (Cathedral of St Basil the Blessed) in Moscow

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In Moscow, Patriarch of Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias served Divine Liturgy in the Cathedral of the Protection of the Mother of God, better known as the Cathedral of St Basil the Blessed, on its 450th anniversary, on 12 July (29 June OS) 2011. His Holiness noted that the cathedral isn’t only an outstanding medieval cultural artefact; it’s also a testimony to the inviolability of both the Russian spirit and the Church. He reminded us that the cathedral was almost destroyed on two different occasions… the first was at the time of Napoleon’s occupation of Moscow, and the second was during the Soviet era. After the service, the Patriarch said, “There are many legends about how this happened. You can believe them, or not believe them, as you will. However, when we see this cathedral standing firmly on the main square of Russia, it does so through the spirit of our people, because of their faith”.

During his remarks, the patriarch remembered the victims of the sinking of the cruise ship Bulgariya. His Holiness made interpolations in the service to pray for the souls of the victims of this disaster. The festival of bell-ringing and the other commemorative events planned for the 450th anniversary of the cathedral were cancelled, due to the day of mourning called by the RF authorities. The Liturgy was held in the central chapel of the cathedral (Chapel of the Protection of the Mother of God). Despite the fact that the cathedral looks impressively large from the outside, on the inside, it’s a warren of small chambers, so a relatively small number of people attended the service. One of those attending the service was the cinematographer Nikita Mikhalkov. After serving the Liturgy, the patriarch visited the restored sections of the cathedral. As a part of the 450th anniversary of the church, work on two of the chapels inside the cathedral is now complete.

12 July 2011

RIA-Novosti

http://ria.ru/photolents/20110712/400483850.html

Patriarchia.ru

Official MP Website

http://www.patriarchia.ru/db/text/1564025.html

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12 July 2011. RIA-Novosti Reports… St Basil Cathedral Seen Against the Backdrop of Russian History

In Moscow, 450 years ago, the Cathedral of the Protection of the Mother of God, or, as it’s often called, St Basil Cathedral, was completed. It quickly became one of the most striking attractions of the capital. The anniversary date of 12 July (29 June OS) wasn’t picked out of a hat, for it was on this day in 1561 that the Cathedral was consecrated, as is indicated by the inscriptions located in the cupola of the central chapel of the cathedral, “The Cathedral of the Protection was consecrated on the feastday of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul”.

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Tsar Ivan Grozny (1530-84), one of the most brutal Russian rulers, founded the Church of the Holy Protection of the Mother of God on the Moat (the original name of St Basil Cathedral) to commemorate his victory in the wars to conquer kingdoms of Kazan and Astrakhan in 1552 and 1554, respectively. The image above is of a manuscript miniature from the Litsevoi Collection, “The consecration of the central chapel of the cathedral on the feastday of the Protection of the Mother of God”, dating, probably, from 1568 to 1576.

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We don’t know what existed on the site in Red Square before the building of the Protection Cathedral. The first reliable mention of the erection of a Church of the Protection of the Mother of God comes in the autumn of 1554; scholars believe that this was a wooden building. It stood for just over six months, and it was torn down before the start of the construction of the stone cathedral on the site in 1555, which stands to this day. The image above is a reproduction of an engraving of Adam Olearius (1603-71), a 17th century German traveller, depicts the Protection Cathedral.

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The Russian architects Barma and Postnikov (others say that Postnik and Barma were the name of a single person) built the Protection Cathedral. According to legend, Tsar Ivan Grozny blinded the architects upon the completion of the cathedral, so that they couldn’t create another building that would eclipse this outstanding masterpiece of architecture. Later, scholars proved this legend nothing but a figment of the imagination. The image above is a fragment of an engraving, A Procession on a Jackass, from the book Journey to Muscovy by Adam Olearius. On the left, you can see the Protection Cathedral.

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Red Square in the Second Half of the 17th Century

Apollinary Vasnetsov

Undated

The Protection Cathedral originally consisted of nine chapels standing on a single ground-floor, one in the centre, and eight surrounding it. In 1588, at the behest of Tsar Fyodor Ivanovich (1557-98) the Blessed, the son of Ivan Grozny, built a tenth chapel over the tomb of the Holy Fool Basil the Blessed, after whom the church got its second, more popular, name. At the end of the 16th century, the present patterned cupolas were erected to replace the originals which were burned in a fire. In the 1680s, the belfry underwent reconstruction. In place of an open two-tier structure, a tower was built.

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A fire badly damaged the church in the reign of Fyodor Ivanovich, after which major reconstruction changed the face of the cathedral. At this time, in the basement arcades, there were 13 chapels; they were once sited along the moat around Red Square at the place of public executions during the reign of Ivan Grozny. Arches were erected over the previously-open external bypass gallery, and a hipped porch was placed over the white stone stairs. The image above is an engraving by Giacomo Quarenghi (1744-1817), The Protection Cathedral and the Spassky Tower in Moscow, from the series, Views of Moscow and its Environs (1797).

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A View of Red Square

Friedrich Hilferding

1787

In the reign of Tsaritsa Yekaterina Veliki, the cathedral underwent substantial repair, the hipped porch connected with the cathedral façade was painted, imitating the stonework inside the church, also there were pictures of saints and holy scenes, were are partially preserved in our time. A painted inscription dating from this time relates the consecration of the chapel of the Protection in the cathedral.

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Red Square in Moscow

Fyodor Alekseyev

1801

Repeatedly, the church was threatened with destruction, but each time it remained intact, and the devastating fires of the 16th and 17th centuries weren’t a serious threat to its continued existence. In 1812, the French ransacked the church. Related to this is one of the legends of the cathedral; supposedly, Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) wanted to take the “Russian Wonder” back with him to Paris, but as it was a technical impossibility to move the cathedral from it site and take it away, he gave orders to blow up the church, and with it, the entire Kremlin. However, a sudden rain prevented this, extinguishing the burning fuses.

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Immediately after the war, the church was repaired and re-consecrated. A landscaped park and open-work iron bars, designed by the famous architect O. Bove, surrounded the area around the cathedral. The above image is an engraving by Friedrich Dürfeldt, Cathedral of St Basil the Blessed in Moscow (1810).

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Location of the church made it a part of and a venue for many turning points in Russian history. The above image shows the last Russian tsar, Nikolai Aleksandrovich (1868-1918), along with his wife Aleksandra Fyodrovna (1872-1918), during a visit to the cathedral in 1902.

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In 1917, the Bolsheviks hit one of the domes of St Basil’s during their shelling of the Kremlin. After the revolution, Fr Ivan Vostorgov (1864-1918), one of the cathedral clergy, was shot, church property was confiscated, its bells were melted down, and the church was closed. The above image shows the commander of the Moscow Military District, Aleksandr Evgrafovich Gruzinov (1873-after 1917), reviewing a parade of the revolutionary forces on 17 March 1917.

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In 1928, the Cathedral of the Protection became a branch of the State Historical Museum, and it remains so today. The above image shows the church in 1920.

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In Soviet times, the existence of the Cathedral of the Protection was threatened again. Some wanted to blow up the church due to the fact that it interfered with the passage of tanks through Red Square during parades and demonstrations, there’s a version that a skyscraper was planned to be built upon its site. Another legend of the history of the Cathedral of the Protection dates from that time… when Kaganovich presented Stalin with a project of reconstructing Red Square to ease the holding of parades and demonstrations by tearing down the Cathedral of St Basil the Blessed, Stalin told him, “Leave it there”.

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One way or another, St Basil Cathedral survived all those who tried to destroy it, now, it’s a major tourist attraction.

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Since Soviet times, no visitor left the capital without a photo like this. The Chilean poet Pablo Neruda (1904-73) and his wife Matilde Urrutia (1912-85) took this snap to remember their visit to the Cathedral of the Protection…

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… along with guests of the Moscow Film Festival, such as Gina Lollobrigida (1927- )…

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… and another Italian actress, Sophia Loren (1934- ).

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In the 50s and 60s, the Cathedral underwent restoration work, during which researchers found the exact date of the building’s completion, 12 July 1561, in an old chronicle.

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In the 1990s, St. Basil’s Cathedral was a silent witness to the ever-churning political turmoil in our country’s history.

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During the August 1991 coup, tanks rolled up right against its walls…

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… and after that, there always seemed to be a demonstration protesting something. The above image is of a demonstration in late 1991. Pickets gathered on Red Square on the first day of the Fifth Extraordinary Congress of People’s Deputies.

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“A Cross-Procession of Repentance” (Крестовый поход покаяния) outside the Cathedral of the Protection, on the eve of the feastday of the icon of the Mother of God “of Kazan”, and on the 270th anniversary of the Russian Empire, in 1991.

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In 1993, the first President of the RF, Boris Yeltsin (1931-2007), spoke at a public meeting in front of the cathedral.

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The Cathedral of the Protection is now included on the List of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Russia. As a branch of the State Historical Museum, it offers regular tours, plus others on major Christian feastdays.

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For the anniversary of the cathedral, there was a large-scale restoration of the interiors of the church, and museum staff developed the first part of a new permanent exhibition. All of this will be open to the public on the day of the church’s anniversary.

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12 July 2011

RIA-Novosti

http://ria.ru/photolents/20110712/388222552.html

12 July 2011. Clap Your Hands and Jump On In! It’s Ivan Kupala Day…

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12 July 2011. VOR Reports… A Russian Wonder… The Cathedral of St Basil the Blessed

On 12 July, the Cathedral of the Protection of the Mother of God on the Moat, better known as the Cathedral of St Basil the Blessed, celebrates its birthday; it’s been 450 years since its foundation. The cathedral always amazed overseas envoys, and all of them called it a Russian wonder.

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According to the chronicles, the construction of the cathedral was finished on 12 July 1561.

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Ivan Grozny built the cathedral to commemorate the conquest of Kazan and his victory over the Tatar Kazan Khanate.

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According to one version, the architects were masters Barma and Postnikov, another account has it that the architect was the famous master of Pskov, Postnik Yakovlev, nicknamed Barma.

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Some also speculate that an unknown Italian master built the cathedral, hence, its unique style that combines traditional Russian architecture with European Renaissance motifs.

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According to legend, Ivan Grozny ordered the creators of the cathedral blinded, so that they couldn’t build a better edifice after this one.

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The cathedral is decorated with 10 cupolas, nine are over the various chapels, the Protection of the Mother of God, the Holy Trinity, the Lord’s Entrance into Jerusalem, Gregory of Armenia, Aleksandr Svirsky, Barlaam Khutyn, John the Merciful (formerly known as John, Paul, and Aleksndr of Constantinople), Nicholas Velikoretsky, and Adrian and Natalia (formerly known as Cyprian and Justina), and a cupola above the belfry.

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The previous St Basil Cathedral had 25 cupolas, one signifying the Lord, and the others stood for the 24 elders seated around his throne.

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Over the centuries, the cathedral bore different names… the Protection of the Mother of God, Holy Trinity, and St Basil. The first two fell out of use in Soviet times, for St Basil was a holy blessed fool, a man of the people, almost a proletarian.

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Despite the strained relationship between the Soviet state and the Church, restorations of the cathedral took place in 1918 and 1937.

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One of the galleries of St Basil’s Cathedral, with frescoes on the walls.

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Frescoes on the walls and vaults of the Cathedral of the Protection on Red Square, better known as St Basil Cathedral.

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On the day of the 450th anniversary of St Basil Cathedral, the staff invites everyone to join the free tours that will take place every half-hour. In addition, on 12 July, a new exhibition will open, “Moscow Fools of the Medieval Period in the History of the Cathedral of the Protection”. On the anniversary, the professional bell-ringers of the Moscow Kremlin will ring the bells in the belfry of the cathedral.

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The second phase of the 450th anniversary celebrations at St Basil Cathedral will begin on 14 October 14, the feastday of the Protection of the Mother of God, the patronal feast of the church.

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12 July 2011

Voice of Russia World Service

http://rus.ruvr.ru/photoalbum/53097906/53097909/index.html

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