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St. Catherine Cathedral’s Reconstruction Program in Tsarskoe Selo
“St. Catherine Cathedral’s Reconstructionin Tsarskoe Selo” is a charitable foundation established to support the reconstruction of a unique monument of spiritual and architectural significance in the town ofTsarskoe Selo. It is the Russian Orthodox church built on the town square named in honour of the Martyr St. Catherine.
This magnificent five-domed cathedral stood in the center of town until 1939. It was built by the order of Tsar Nicholay I, under the supervision of architect Ê.À. Tone in 1835. K.A. Tone was the architect for many renowned architectural masterpieces built according to famous Suzdal technique, better known as the Russian Byzantine style. At the consecration ceremony on November 24, 1840, the day of St. Martyr Catherine, the town square was renamed to Cathedral Square in the presence of Emperor Nikolay I and his son Alexander.
This Cathedral was not only the central temple of the town, but also the tallest building in Tsarskoe Selo at the time, built specifically to be visible when approaching the town by railroad. The railroad, which was the first branch in Russia, and town’s rail station were being built at the same time as the cathedral, establishing the central geometric axis for the town plan, with central Broad Street connecting to Catherine’s Cathedral.
The most significant and beautiful decoration of the interior of the Cathedral was the gold-carved five-tier iconostasis, consisting of the religious paintings by numerous prominent artists. Among them was Professor Feodor Brunei, whose famous works included “The Last Supper” installation, now on display at the Catherine’s Palace. He has also painted St. Catherine the Martyr and Empress Alexandra depictions. Another prominent artist Egorov painted the icon Reincarnation of the Christ, centred behind the altar, and the icons of archangels Gabriel and Michael on the side gates of the altar. Feodor Brulov depicted Evangelists on the ceiling of the cathedral’s dome and the Three Holy Ghosts icon, along with numerous secondary religious paintings. Other valuable icons located at the cathedral were Vladimir’s Mother of God , framed in gold and silver, and decorated with precious stones. This icon was created in commemoration of the coronation of the Emperor Alexander II and Empress Maria Alexandrovna. Another sacred image, the Moscow Sanctum, was sent to this cathedral in 1867 by the Moscow Metropolitan Head of the Orthodox Church, St. Filaret. The main altar is also decorated by two remarkable art pieces: Van-Deik’s Crucifixion, and The Holy Virgin by Paolo Veronese.
The vaults of the cathedral contained a vestry, a candle pantry, and a temporary burial crypt. In the east corner of the Cathedral, there was the last resting place of the hero of the Great Patriotic War of 1812, general Zaharjevsky (1780-1865).
The Cathedral could accommodate up to two thousands worshipers, who were called to masses by the church’s main cast bell, that weighed 4,576 kilograms. The small stone chapel, located in the open marketplace, Gostinniy Dvor, was assigned to the Cathedral. The large square surrounding the five-domed Cathedral was a central place of people gathering for social and religious events, holidays and town meetings.
From 1872 to 1878 another local church, the church of The Birth of Our Lady, at the all-male academy on Naberejnaya St., was assigned to the Cathedral. In 1922, a large number of valuables from the Cathedral was moved to the museum of Catherine Palace. Among them was the above mentioned Our Holy Lady by Paolo Veronese.
In 1938, the St. Catherine’s Cathedral was closed, and in June of the following year, one year before its 100th anniversary, the Cathedral was demolished with explosives. It was replaced by the statue of Lenin and the main street was renamed after him. Lenin’s statue stood for more than 40 years on the site of the Cathedral. The original historical name of Broad Street (Shirokaya Street) was reinstated in 1990.
Reconstruction of the St. Catherine Cathedral
In the future, Cathedral Square will be rebuilt; the Cathedral of Saint Martyr Catherine will be reconstructed in its past glory of the original architectural style. The striking main bell will announce its presence and again be part of our town. People will gather again on the surrounding square to celebrate social and religious holidays. St. Martyr Catherine Cathedral will once again stand as historical centre of Tsarskoe Selo.
The reconstructed Cathedral of Saint Catherine will be identical to it predecessor, as constructed by the architect Ê. À. Tone in the Russian-Byzantine style. The cutting edge scientific methods will be used to achieve the result. The most important step of the project is the design for reconstruction. This phase will require the use of latest technologies of computer modelling, volumetric calculations, architectural prototyping and engineering computer analysis to account for acoustics, lighting and other aspects of the reconstruction. The walls on the ground floor and the three entrances - western, northern and southern - will be decorated with famous tiles manufactured by the Pytilov factory. The five domes of the Cathedral will be topped by octagonal gilded crosses and accented with installed lighting. Observation decks will be arranged at the top of the domes for tourists. The height of a cathedral will remain historically accurate at 53 meters. The area of the cathedral floor will stay the same at 1145 square meters to accommodate the original number of 2000 churchgoers. In accord with the modern times, the rebuilt Cathedral will be equipped with the latest technological commodities, which will include computers, air conditioning, fire alarm and prevention systems, closed circuit television, and will be connected to town’s communication and utility systems.
The reconstruction of the Cathedral of Saint Catherine will have a major ideological impact on the development of the City of Tsarskoe Selo . It will complement the city’s urban environment, completing the views along Orangereinaya, Leontievskaya, Pushkinskaya and Moscowskaya Streets, and reinforce the significance and beauty of the numerous town parks and parkways. A Church Museum will be established in the cellar of the Cathedral. The reconstructed Cathedral will become an integral part of Tsarskoe Selo’s architectural appearance as well as its religious and social life. It will be one of the most visited and favourite places for its citizens and tourists. It is quite viable that the celebration of the 300th anniversary of Tsarskoe Selo in 2010 will begin with a solemn act of worship and a sacred procession in the rebuilt Cathedral of St. Catherine, just as it was a hundred years ago.
Financial Maintenance of the Program
The total predicted cost of the project of rebuilding the Cathedral of Saint Catherine will be approximately 17 million US dollars. The reconstruction will be funded without government contributions or budget essignments. Financing of the project will come from private donations, corporate contributions, public organizations, and the Russian Orthodox Church funds, transmitted to the charitable fund “St. Catherine Cathedral’s Reconstruction in Tsarskoe Selo”.
Contact information for the charitable “St. Catherine Cathedral’s Reconstruction in Tsarskoe Selo” Fund:
Address: Sofiyskaya Square 1, Pushkin, Sankt Petersburg 196602, Russia
Phone: +7(812) 465-3019, 452-1085
Fax: +7(812) 465-1078
Bank account (US dollars):
Sberbank Bank, Russian Federation, St. Petersburg
SBERBANK (SEVERO-ZAPADNY HEAD OFFICE)
ST. PETERSBURG OFC
In case of clearing or by written order to the charitable fund, in the field “reason for payment” please write “Charitable contribution to fund regulations. Tax deductible”.