Trinity Izmailovsky Cathedral – the Cathedral of the Life-Giving Trinity of the Izmailovsky Life Guards Regiment, one of the monumental temples of St. Petersburg. The Orthodox Cathedral of Military Glory is located in the Admiralteisky district, in the center of the northern capital, at the crossroads of Troitsky and Izmailovsky avenues.
Life Guards Izmailovsky Regiment
The Izmailovsky Life Guards regiment was formed in Moscow on September 22, 1730 by order of Empress Anna Ioannovna, daughter of John Alekseevich, brother of Emperor Peter I.
The Life Guard – the honorary selected military units of loyal people – was created by the empress as a reliable support to the throne, which was under the monarch. The privileged regiment was named at the place of residence of the empress, the village of Izmailovo near Moscow.
Empress Anna Ioannovna, who became the chief of the regiment, approved the first banner of the personal guard – a cloth of crimson velvet with golden flaming ornaments in the corners. In the center is the empress’s gold monogram superimposed on the blue St. Andrew’s cross. The regimental holiday is established on the day of the Holy Trinity.
A regiment of 2,192 people, divided into 12 companies with a place of permanent deployment in St. Petersburg, was located in the south of the city. From that time on, the tradition of the royal patronage of the Izmailovsky regiment began. Each monarch approved a new regiment flag and flags of its 12 companies.
The Izmailovites remained faithful to tradition: in 1762, the guards were the first to swear allegiance to the new Empress Catherine II, who overthrew her husband Peter III from the throne. During the uprising of the Decembrists in 1825, the Izmailovsky regiment remained loyal to Nicholas I.
Trinity Izmailovsky Church – Cathedral of military glory
The guards of the imperial regiment, who did not know defeat on the battlefield, prayed in a marching tent, which served as a garrison temple. During the time of Elizabeth Petrovna, a wooden garrison church was built . The Empress personally embroidered graceful covers for the temple and donated gilded vessels.
The church was not heated, so in winter the military prayed in a small church built in the barracks. Emperor Nicholas I decided to build a new stone church for the Izmailovsky regiment and allocated for this not only money from the treasury, but also invested personal funds.
Construction of a stone cathedral
On May 13, 1828, in a solemn atmosphere for the imperial regiment, a new church was laid in honor of the Holy Life-giving Trinity. The builders had 7 years of complex work ahead of them, which were meticulously controlled by Nicholas I. The sovereign entrusted the design and construction of the Cathedral of military glory to the famous architect Vasily Petrovich Stasov.
9000 four-piled piles are driven into the foundation of the cathedral, the base of the temple is made of granite. The walls and pillars were made of bricks with metal bars of strip iron.
The complex and painstaking work – the erection of the central drum with the dome – ended in disaster: in November 1832, the finished dome, freed from the forests, was torn off by a storm. The emperor punished the architect with a 10-day stay in the guardhouse.
On May 25, 1835, the solemn consecration of the cathedral took place . The entire Izmailovsky regiment arrived at the opening of the majestic snow-white temple with blue domes.
Nicholas I presented the consecrated cathedral with jasper vessels in a gold setting, a jasper tabernacle in the form of a temple with columns of pink agate and a three-tiered bronze chandelier for 370 candles weighing 5 tons, the largest in Europe. 65-year-old V.P. The sovereign awarded Stasov with the Order of St. Stanislav and a monetary prize.
“Civil” parishioners of Holy Trinity Cathedral
Petersburgers often came to the Trinity-Izmailovsky Cathedral, a regimental church. By the end of the 19th century, 8,000 people a year were confessing in the cathedral.
Here Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky got married with his second wife Anna Grigorievna Snitkina, in a happy marriage with whom he lived until his death. In the fall of 1894, in the Izmailovsky Cathedral, they said goodbye to the composer and pianist Anton Rubinstein.
The parishioners of the cathedral were actively involved in charity work. In 1845, an orphanage for military orphans was opened at the church . Charity extended to civilian parishioners.
The Society for the Aid to the Poor, which consisted of 140 people, made substantial monthly donations. The Monk John of Kronstadt became a philanthropist member, and Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich actively helped the society. The poor were given benefits and provided inexpensive rooms for rent.
In February 1918, the barracks of the Preobrazhensky regiment were occupied by the Red Army, and the regimental clergy was abolished. Valuables for 2 kg of gold and 300 kg of silver were taken out of the cathedral. For resistance to the Soviet regime during the confiscation of valuables in the church, 86 clergymen were put on trial, of which 10 were sentenced to death.
The banners of the ley guards regiment, kept in the cathedral, were taken out. A cafe, a beer stall and a warehouse were set up in the buildings. In 1932, the Presidium of the Leningrad City Council decided to wipe the cathedral off the face of the earth and build a theater for workers in its place.
Desperate parishioners defended the cathedral, but in March 1938 the temple was closed, and the building was transferred to the Lensovet Theater for decorative workshops. A year before the Great Patriotic War, it was decided to arrange a crematorium in the Trinity-Izmailovsky Cathedral, but a group of scientists convinced the party leadership that the project was inexpedient.
During the Leningrad blockade, a bomb shelter was arranged in the basement of the church, and the entire premises were filled with the corpses of Leningraders who died of starvation. The building of the cathedral was damaged by bombing, so that the biggest damage was repaired only in 1956. The building gradually fell into decay.
The revival of the Trinity-Izmailovsky Cathedral began in 1990, when the destroyed building with damp bare walls was handed over to the Leningrad diocese. The painstaking tireless work on the revival of the temple began.
In 2003, on the day of the patronal feast, the cathedral received as a gift from the President of Russia Vladimir Putin an icon of the Holy Trinity, made in the 15th century. On October 1, 2005, the reconstructed triumphal column “Military Glory” was inaugurated.
On August 25, 2006, the scaffolding of the central dome caught fire. The fire, which was extinguished only with the help of helicopters, burned down the central wooden dome, which had served for 170 years.
The interiors and 4 small domes of the temple suffered from the water, but the Trinity-Izmailovsky Cathedral was not closed for parishioners for a day. Already in the first two months, 6 million rubles were collected in donations from individuals and organizations for its restoration.
On October 9, 2008, a cross was installed on the main dome of the cathedral, which became a symbol of the revival of the temple, a 9-meter cross – an exact copy of the predecessor who crowned the temple since 1835.
Despite the misfortunes, the Trinity-Izmailovsky Cathedral has returned to its former greatness, marking its 200th anniversary in 2020. A Sunday school for adults, a youth community and a shelter for orphans have been opened at the church, an icon-painting workshop has been created .
The most beautiful military-church ensemble is the pride of St. Petersburg, a visit to which for pilgrims and tourists is free.
The architecture of the Trinity-Izmailovsky Cathedral
In the center of the ornate Trinity Square, sparkling with a gilded cross and bright blue domes decorated with bronze stars, stands a handsome cathedral, visible from a distance of 20 km from the city. The majestic temple rises 80 meters and accommodates 3000 worshipers.
The building, painted white, was built in the style of late classicism by the Russian architect Vasily Petrovich Stasov in 1835. The architect, designing the cathedral, shifted his attention to the colonnade and blue-star hemispheres.
Against the white background, the blue five-domed domes with the stars scattered over them contrast. The painting was done on the personal instructions of Nicholas I. There are 280 stars on the large dome, 208 on each of the four small ones. According to legend, the color of the cathedral domes matched the color of the uniforms of the Izmailovsky regiment guards.
The facades of the temple are decorated with austere porticoes, covered galleries formed by a colonnade with ceilings. The roof of each is supported by 6 stately graceful columns. Small domes of the church rise above the porticoes.
The imposing columns of the temple, the pilasters of which are trimmed with white marble, display antique motifs and an imperial spirit. The perimeter of the building is decorated with a magnificent sculptural frieze. In the niches of the western portico there are bronze sculptures of angels.
Sending a report to the emperor, Stasov wrote: “This temple, with its elegance and colossal appearance, astonishes everyone looking at it.” The splendor and elegance of the monumental temple evokes a sense of celebration and joy.
Column of Glory
On the east side of the temple is the Column of Glory, erected in honor of the victory in the Russian-Turkish war. An unusual monument designed by the architect Grimm was opened in 1886 with the personal participation of Emperor Alexander III.
The 28-meter-high monument was assembled from 108 cast-iron cannons that came to St. Petersburg as trophies of war. An allegorical sculpture of Glory, the goddess Nike, holding a laurel wreath in her hand, rises above the tools, placed in 5 tiers.
Below, on a granite pedestal, there are plaques listing the main battles of the Russian-Turkish war and the distinguished commanders.
In 1930, the monument was removed and melted down, planning to erect a monument to the Decembrists on the site of the memorial, which was never done. Today there is an exact copy of the old Column of Glory, made in 2005.
Interior and shrines
The interior of the cathedral is spacious and light. The main dome is as high as it floats in the air. Under the immense cylinder of the central light drum, which is supported by a group of columns with gilded ribs, it is free and joyful, light and free.
The interior is decorated with 24 columns arranged in groups and skillfully complemented by pilasters. The intricate painting of the walls and vaults is illuminated by 5 light domes . The floor in the temple is made of huge polished stone slabs.
The multi-color palette of the interior is breathtaking. Columns and pilasters faced with white marble are in harmony with small domes painted with gold stars on a blue background. Looking at them, a feeling of endless space and lightness is created.
Above the altar barrier, shining with gold on the white background of the temple, there is a canopy with the image of the Holy Trinity and the inscription: “By this sign, conquer.” Here is a gilded cross and a symbol of the Holy Spirit – a dove.
The semicircular iconostasis is decorated with columns with icons in the niches between them. In a round frame and carved gilded radiance – the image of the Lord of hosts. The central icons of the first tier are the Savior and the Mother of God. On the Mountainous Place there is an icon “The Taking of the Mother of God into Heaven”. In the Royal Doors – “Annunciation” and “Evangelists”.
The side-altars of the temple, separated from the main interior by arches and columns, enhance the feeling of spaciousness. At the arch of the south side-altar there is an image of the Life-Giving Trinity, made in 1406.
Trophy banners, flags and keys from captured fortresses and cities were kept in the temple. Many Turkish banners obtained during the war between Russia and Turkey.
In 1836, commemorative marble plaques with the names of the officers of the Izmailovsky regiment who died in the battles at Austerlitz and Borodino, Kulma were installed in the walls of the cathedral . Regimental banners and trophies of military campaigns were kept here.
Shrines of the Trinity-Izmailovsky Cathedral
The temple contains:
- Icon of the Holy Life-Giving Trinity.
- Part of the relics of the holy blessed eldress Matrona of Moscow.
- The holy relics of Peter and Fevronia of Murom.
- The relics of three saints: Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, John Chrysostom.
- Icon of the holy blessed Xenia of Petersburg, painted from the lifetime portrait of the blessed eldress.
- Icon of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker.
- The image of the icon of the Mother of God “Port Arthur”;
- The image of the Mother of God “Help in childbirth”.
- Icon of the Mother of God “Quick to Hearken”.
- The miraculous image of the icon of the Mother of God “The Tsaritsa”.
- Icon “Savior with children”.
Multi-meter canvas icons:
- Apostles Peter and Paul;
- The Most Holy Theotokos with the Eternal Child in her arms;
- Saint Catherine;
- Saint Alexander Nevsky;
- Isaac of Dalmatia.