Cathedral of the Dormition

Cathedral of the Dormition

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The Cathedral of the Dormition is a Russian Orthodox church dedicated to the Dormition of the Theotokos
Dormition of the Theotokos
The Dormition of the Theotokos is a Great Feast of the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches which commemorates the "falling asleep" or death of the Theotokos , and her bodily resurrection before being taken up into heaven. It is celebrated on August 15 The Dormition...

. It is located on the north side of Cathedral Square
Cathedral Square
Cathedral Square may refer to:*Cathedral Square, Brisbane, Australia*Cathedral Square, Christchurch, New Zealand*Cathedral Square, Glasgow, Scotland*Cathedral Square, Moscow, Russia*Cathedral Square, Mobile, Alabama, United States...

 of the Moscow Kremlin
Moscow Kremlin
The Moscow Kremlin , sometimes referred to as simply The Kremlin, is a historic fortified complex at the heart of Moscow, overlooking the Moskva River , Saint Basil's Cathedral and Red Square and the Alexander Garden...

 in Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, where a narrow alley separates the north from the Patriarch's Palace with the Twelve Apostles Church
Church of the Twelve Apostles
The Church of the Twelve Apostles is a minor cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin, commissioned by Patriarch Nikon as part of his stately residence in 1653 and dedicated to Philip the Apostle three years later....

. Southwest is Ivan the Great Bell Tower
Ivan the Great Bell Tower
The Ivan the Great Bell Tower is the tallest of the towers in the Moscow Kremlin complex, with a total height of . It was built in 1508 for the Russian Orthodox cathedrals in Cathedral Square, namely the Assumption, Archangel and Annunciation cathedrals, which do not have their own belfries...

. Separately in the southwest, also separated by a narrow passage from the church, is the Palace of Facets
Palace of Facets
The Palace of the Facets is a building in the Moscow Kremlin, Russia, which contains what used to be the main banquet reception hall of the Muscovite Tsars. It is the oldest preserved secular building in Moscow. Located on Kremlin Cathedral Square, between the Cathedral of the Annunciation and the...

 .The Cathedral is regarded as the mother church
Mother Church
In Christianity, the term mother church or Mother Church may have one of the following meanings:# The first mission church in an area, or a pioneer cathedral# A basilica or cathedral# The main chapel of a province of a religious order...

 of Muscovite Russia. In its present form it was 1475-79 at the behest of the Moscow Grand Duke Ivan III
Ivan III of Russia
Ivan III Vasilyevich , also known as Ivan the Great, was a Grand Prince of Moscow and "Grand Prince of all Rus"...

 by the Italian architect Aristotele Fioravanti. From 1547 to 1896 it is where the Coronation of the Russian monarch
Coronation of the Russian monarch
The Coronation of the Russian monarch was a religious ceremony of the Russian Orthodox Church, the state church of the Russian Empire, in which the Emperor of Russia was crowned and invested with regalia, then anointed with chrism and formally blessed by the church to commence his reign...

 was held. In addition, it is the burial place for most of the Moscow Metropolitan
Metropolitan
Metropolitan may refer to:* A metropolis* A metropolitan area* A metropole, "mother country", or central part of a colonizing state* Metropolitan bishop or archbishop, leader of an ecclesiastical "mother see"...

s and Patriarch
Patriarch
Originally a patriarch was a man who exercised autocratic authority as a pater familias over an extended family. The system of such rule of families by senior males is called patriarchy. This is a Greek word, a compound of πατριά , "lineage, descent", esp...

s of the Russian Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church
The Russian Orthodox Church or, alternatively, the Moscow Patriarchate The ROC is often said to be the largest of the Eastern Orthodox churches in the world; including all the autocephalous churches under its umbrella, its adherents number over 150 million worldwide—about half of the 300 million...

.

Early history


Archaeological investigations in 1968 indicated that the site of the present Cathedral was a medieval burial ground, supporting hypothesis that a wooden church existed on the site in the 12th century. This was replaced by a limestone
Limestone
Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate . Many limestones are composed from skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral or foraminifera....

 structure in the 13th century, which is mentioned in historical records.
In the 14th century, Metropolitan Peter
Metropolitan Peter
Saint Peter, Metropolitan of Moscow and all Russia was the Russian metropolitan who moved his see from Vladimir to Moscow in 1325. Later he was proclaimed a patron saint of Moscow. In spite of the move, the office remained officially entitled "Metropolitan of Kiev and All Rus'" until the...

 persuaded Ivan I
Ivan I of Russia
Ivan I Danilovich Kalita was Prince of Moscow from 1325 and Grand Prince of Vladimir from 1328.-Biography:Ivan was the son of Prince of Moscow Daniil Aleksandrovich....

 (Ivan Kalita) that he should build a cathedral
Cathedral
A cathedral is a Christian church that contains the seat of a bishop...

 to the Theotokos
Theotokos
Theotokos is the Greek title of Mary, the mother of Jesus used especially in the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Catholic Churches. Its literal English translations include God-bearer and the one who gives birth to God. Less literal translations include Mother of God...

 (Blessed Virgin Mary) in Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

 like the Cathedral of the Dormition
Assumption Cathedral in Vladimir
Dormition Cathedral in Vladimir used to be a mother church of medieval Russia in the 13th and 14th centuries...

 in the capital city Vladimir. Construction of the cathedral began on August 4, 1326, and the cathedral was finished and consecrated
Consecration
Consecration is the solemn dedication to a special purpose or service, usually religious. The word "consecration" literally means "to associate with the sacred". Persons, places, or things can be consecrated, and the term is used in various ways by different groups...

 on August 4, 1327. At that time Moscow became the capital of the Vladimir-Suzdal' principality, and later of all Kievan Rus.
By the end of the 15th century the old cathedral had become dilapidated, and in 1472 the Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

 architects Kryvtsov and Myshkin began construction of a new cathedral. Two years later, in May 1474, the building was nearing completion when it suddenly collapsed because of an earthquake — an extremely rare event in Moscow.

Present structure


Following the disaster, Ivan III
Ivan III of Russia
Ivan III Vasilyevich , also known as Ivan the Great, was a Grand Prince of Moscow and "Grand Prince of all Rus"...

 then invited Aristotele Fioravanti, a celebrated architect and engineer from Bologna
Bologna
Bologna is the capital city of Emilia-Romagna, in the Po Valley of Northern Italy. The city lies between the Po River and the Apennine Mountains, more specifically, between the Reno River and the Savena River. Bologna is a lively and cosmopolitan Italian college city, with spectacular history,...

, Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, to come to Moscow and entrusted him with the task of building the cathedral from scratch in the traditions of Russian architecture
Russian architecture
Russian architecture follows a tradition whose roots were established in the Eastern Slavic state of Kievan Rus'. After the fall of Kiev, Russian architectural history continued in the principalities of Vladimir-Suzdal, Novgorod, the succeeding states of the Tsardom of Russia, the Russian Empire,...

. The Assumption Cathedral in Vladimir was once again taken as a model for the building, and so Fioravanti travelled to Vladimir in order to study Russian methods of building. He designed a light and spacious masterpiece that combined the spirit of the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 with Russian traditions. The foundation for the new cathedral was laid in 1475, and in 1479 the new cathedral was consecrated by Metropolitan Geronty
Gerontius, Metropolitan of Moscow
Gerontius was Metropolitan of Moscow from 1473 until 1489 and a writer. Gerontius was the Bishop of Kolomna. In 1473, he was appointed Metropolitan of Moscow. In the late 1470s, he was in conflict with Ivan III, among other things, over the consecration procedures of the new churches...

. The interior was painted with fresco
Fresco
Fresco is any of several related mural painting types, executed on plaster on walls or ceilings. The word fresco comes from the Greek word affresca which derives from the Latin word for "fresh". Frescoes first developed in the ancient world and continued to be popular through the Renaissance...

es and adorned with many icon
Icon
An icon is a religious work of art, most commonly a painting, from Eastern Christianity and in certain Eastern Catholic churches...

s, including the Theotokos of Vladimir
Theotokos of Vladimir
The Theotokos of Vladimir , also known as Our Lady of Vladimir or Virgin of Vladimir and "The Vladimir Madonna" - is one of the most venerated Orthodox icons and a typical example of Eleusa Byzantine iconography. The Theotokos is regarded as the holy protectress of Russia...

 and Blachernitissa
Blachernitissa
Blachernitissa , also called Theotokos of Blachernae or Our Lady of Blachernae , is a 7th-century encaustic icon representing the Most Holy Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary...

.

The design of the new church, with its five domes, symbolic of Jesus Christ and the Four Evangelists
Four Evangelists
In Christian tradition the Four Evangelists are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, the authors attributed with the creation of the four Gospel accounts in the New Testament that bear the following titles:*Gospel according to Matthew*Gospel according to Mark...

) proved immensely popular, and was taken as a template for numerous other churches throughout Russia.
In 1547 the coronation
Coronation
A coronation is a ceremony marking the formal investiture of a monarch and/or their consort with regal power, usually involving the placement of a crown upon their head and the presentation of other items of regalia...

 of the first Russian Tsar, Ivan the Terrible, took place in this cathedral. From 1721 it was the scene of the coronation of the Russian emperors
Coronation of the Russian monarch
The Coronation of the Russian monarch was a religious ceremony of the Russian Orthodox Church, the state church of the Russian Empire, in which the Emperor of Russia was crowned and invested with regalia, then anointed with chrism and formally blessed by the church to commence his reign...

. The ritual installation of metropolitans and patriarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church
The Russian Orthodox Church or, alternatively, the Moscow Patriarchate The ROC is often said to be the largest of the Eastern Orthodox churches in the world; including all the autocephalous churches under its umbrella, its adherents number over 150 million worldwide—about half of the 300 million...

 also took place in this cathedral, and their tombs are to be found here.

The cathedral suffered from many disasters in its history, including fires in 1518, 1547, 1682 and 1737, and looting under the armies of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was a dualistic state of Poland and Lithuania ruled by a common monarch. It was the largest and one of the most populous countries of 16th- and 17th‑century Europe with some and a multi-ethnic population of 11 million at its peak in the early 17th century...

 during the Time of Troubles
Time of Troubles
The Time of Troubles was a period of Russian history comprising the years of interregnum between the death of the last Russian Tsar of the Rurik Dynasty, Feodor Ivanovich, in 1598, and the establishment of the Romanov Dynasty in 1613. In 1601-1603, Russia suffered a famine that killed one-third...

 in 1612. During the French occupation of Russia
French invasion of Russia
The French invasion of Russia of 1812 was a turning point in the Napoleonic Wars. It reduced the French and allied invasion forces to a tiny fraction of their initial strength and triggered a major shift in European politics as it dramatically weakened French hegemony in Europe...

, it was looted and used as a horse stable.

It was thoroughly restored in 1894-1895 and from 1910-1918. On November 21, 1917 the cathedral was the setting for the installation of Tikhon (Belavin), the Metropolitan of Moscow, as the first patriarch of the restored Patriarchate of Moscow. However, following the 1917 Russian Revolution, the new Bolshevik
Bolshevik
The Bolsheviks, originally also Bolshevists , derived from bol'shinstvo, "majority") were a faction of the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party which split apart from the Menshevik faction at the Second Party Congress in 1903....

 government closed all churches in the Moscow Kremlin, and converted the cathedral into a museum. By special permission from Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and communist politician who led the October Revolution of 1917. As leader of the Bolsheviks, he headed the Soviet state during its initial years , as it fought to establish control of Russia in the Russian Civil War and worked to create a...

, the last Pascha
Pascha
Pascha may refer to:*Easter, central religious feast in the Christian liturgical year*Paskha , an Easter dish served in several Slavic countries*Paska , an Easter bread served in Ukraine...

 (Easter service) was held in 1918. The final moments of this Paschal service was the subject of an unfinished painting by Pavel Korin
Pavel Korin
Pavel Dmitriyevich Korin was a Russian painter and art restorer. He is famous for his preparational work for the unimplemented painting Farewell to Rus.-Life and career:...

 entitled Farewell to Rus. Most of the church treasures were transferred to the Kremlin Armory, or were sold overseas.
There is a legend that in the winter of 1941, when the Nazis
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 had already reached the threshold of Moscow, Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

 secretly ordered a service to be held in the Dormition Cathedral to pray for the country's salvation from the invading Germans.

The building was repaired in 1949/50, 1960 and 1978.

In 1990 the Dormition Cathedral was returned to the church for periodic religious services, only a few years before the dissolution of the Soviet Union
Dissolution of the Soviet Union
The dissolution of the Soviet Union was the disintegration of the federal political structures and central government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , resulting in the independence of all fifteen republics of the Soviet Union between March 11, 1990 and December 25, 1991...

. It was restored to the Russian Orthodox Church in 1991.

Architecture


Dormition Cathedral is a tremendous 6 pillared building with 5 apses and 5 domes. It was modeled after the Assumption Cathedral in Vladimir, in that it made extensive use of limestone masonry on a high limestone base, and was laid out as a three nave
Nave
In Romanesque and Gothic Christian abbey, cathedral basilica and church architecture, the nave is the central approach to the high altar, the main body of the church. "Nave" was probably suggested by the keel shape of its vaulting...

 church with a vaulted cross-dome. It is built of well trimmed white-stone blocks. However, Fioravanti did not use cantilever
Cantilever
A cantilever is a beam anchored at only one end. The beam carries the load to the support where it is resisted by moment and shear stress. Cantilever construction allows for overhanging structures without external bracing. Cantilevers can also be constructed with trusses or slabs.This is in...

 vaults as was common in Russian architecture, but introduced groin vault
Groin vault
A groin vault or groined vault is produced by the intersection at right angles of two barrel vaults. The word groin refers to the edge between the intersecting vaults; cf. ribbed vault. Sometimes the arches of groin vaults are pointed instead of round...

s and transverse arches. For the upper portion of the building, he used specially-made brick
Brick
A brick is a block of ceramic material used in masonry construction, usually laid using various kinds of mortar. It has been regarded as one of the longest lasting and strongest building materials used throughout history.-History:...

s, larger than the standard Russian size, which reduced weight and allowed for more slender arch supports. Thus, the easternmost pair of columns in front of the apse
Apse
In architecture, the apse is a semicircular recess covered with a hemispherical vault or semi-dome...

s are typically Russian in the use of massive rectangular open piers, whereas the remaining four are simplier Corinthian columns. The slim shape of these columns contributes significantly to the light, spacious effect of the interior.

Inside, the church decoration is dominated by its fresco
Fresco
Fresco is any of several related mural painting types, executed on plaster on walls or ceilings. The word fresco comes from the Greek word affresca which derives from the Latin word for "fresh". Frescoes first developed in the ancient world and continued to be popular through the Renaissance...

 painting. The huge iconostasis
Iconostasis
In Eastern Christianity an iconostasis is a wall of icons and religious paintings, separating the nave from the sanctuary in a church. Iconostasis also refers to a portable icon stand that can be placed anywhere within a church...

 dates from 1547, but its two highest tiers are later additions from 1626 and 1653/1654 under Patriarch Nikon
Patriarch Nikon
Nikon , born Nikita Minin , was the seventh patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church...

. It addition to its liturgical function, the iconostasis also served as a sort of trophy wall, in that Russian Tsars would add the most important icons from cities they had conquered to its collection. One of the oldest, icon with the bust of Saint George dates from the 12th century and was transferred to Moscow by Tsar Ivan IV
Ivan IV of Russia
Ivan IV Vasilyevich , known in English as Ivan the Terrible , was Grand Prince of Moscow from 1533 until his death. His long reign saw the conquest of the Khanates of Kazan, Astrakhan, and Siberia, transforming Russia into a multiethnic and multiconfessional state spanning almost one billion acres,...

 on the conquest of the city of Veliky Novgorod in 1561.

However, one of the most important cult images of the Russian Orthodox Church, the Theotokos of Vladimir
Theotokos of Vladimir
The Theotokos of Vladimir , also known as Our Lady of Vladimir or Virgin of Vladimir and "The Vladimir Madonna" - is one of the most venerated Orthodox icons and a typical example of Eleusa Byzantine iconography. The Theotokos is regarded as the holy protectress of Russia...

kept at the Cathedral from 1395-1919 is now at the Tretyakov Gallery
Tretyakov Gallery
The State Tretyakov Gallery is an art gallery in Moscow, Russia, the foremost depository of Russian fine art in the world.The gallery's history starts in 1856 when the Moscow merchant Pavel Mikhailovich Tretyakov acquired works by Russian artists of his day with the aim of creating a collection,...

.
Near the south entrance to the Cathedral is the Monomach Throne of Ivan IV (1551).

In the Arts


The plaza in front of the Cathedral is the setting for the famous Coronation Scene in Mussorgsky's
Modest Mussorgsky
Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky was a Russian composer, one of the group known as 'The Five'. He was an innovator of Russian music in the romantic period...

 opera Boris Godunov
Boris Godunov (opera)
Boris Godunov is an opera by Modest Mussorgsky . The work was composed between 1868 and 1873 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. It is Mussorgsky's only completed opera and is considered his masterpiece. Its subjects are the Russian ruler Boris Godunov, who reigned as Tsar during the Time of Troubles,...

.

External links