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Friday, October 2, 2015

Kazan Cathedral, Moscow, Russia

I saw this cathedral early in my trip to Russia and so I was not yet prepared for the vast number of beautiful churches that are part of the landscape.  So I will have to be forgiven for all of the pictures of buildings that I took.  This small but charming Cathedral was built in the 17th century on the north side of Red Square, near the Resurrection Gate. It was built to commemorate the repulsion of Polish invaders, and in honor of the Virgin of Kazan icon. There are two things that are very important in Russian history.  One is the repelling of enemies--they still have the Monguls firmly in their minds.  The other is the importance of beautiful icons.  One of the most revered icons in Moscow, it has been connected more than once with the struggle to protect Russia from her enemies. In 1812, during the Napoleonic wars, a prayer service was conducted before the icon to plead for the safety of the country, and it was even attended by the great Russian commander, Field Marshal Mikhail Kutuzov.
The building is a cube topped with a cluster of domes and encircled by a gallery. In the north-west corner there is a bell-tower, and in the north-east the chapel of Averkiy Ierapolskiy. The Cathedral was restored between 1925 and 1933 by the great architect-restorer Pyotr Baranovsky. However, this did not stop the Soviet authorities from taking the decision in 1936 to have the Cathedral demolished.
Fortunately, thanks to Baranovsky, blueprints of the building survived, and in 1989 one of his former students, Oleg Zhurin, took charge of the project to rebuild the Cathedral. This was the first church to be rebuilt in post-communist Moscow. On 4 November 1990, Patriarch Aleksei II laid the first stone of the new building, and three years later the Cathedral was back in all its former glory.

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