Voices From Russia, Too

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

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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