Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow

I promised a while ago to write about the history of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow. This is the place that a group of pseudo-feminists in Russia has defiled as part of its self-promotion strategy. As I said before, you have to be a real hater of the Russian culture to vandalize a cathedral with such a painful and tragic history.

The foundations of the Cathedral were laid down to commemorate Russia’s defeat of the invading Napoleonic troops in 1812. For decades, people from all over the country donated money (often as little as a few kopecks) to create this beautiful work of art. This was a huge project for such a miserably poor country. Only in 1883 was the Cathedral finally finished and consecrated. For seventy years (which is the same number of years that the USSR managed to exist), people saved and donated money, while the most outstanding Russian artists worked on decorating the cathedral. It became a symbol of Russian creativity and a beacon for all Russian Orthodox believers.

After the death of Lenin, Stalin, who wanted to eradicate every vestige of religious feeling and put his own brand of religious Communism in its place, decided to demolish the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. He was planning to erect a temple to the Communist God, Lenin, in its place. It was going to be called “The Palace of the Soviets.” You can see in the picture on the right what it was going to look like.

In 1931, the cathedral was demolished. Remember that the Cathedral had been filled with frescoes by the leading Russian artists of the XIXth century. You do not need to be religious to appreciate the barbarity of this destructive act. One of the goals of the Nazis was to destroy the cultural heritage of the Slavic peoples. The Soviet Communists had started this project long before Hitler even came up with this plan.

It took almost a year to clear all the rubble from the site. Then, the construction of the Communist Temple began.

It never managed to progress beyond the attempts to lay the foundations, though. The site where a humongous cathedral had stood for years with no problems whatsoever suddenly started to get flooded. Stalin exterminated several groups of architects and engineers but nothing could be done. The flooding continued. For the religious people, it was a sign that God was not going to allow this site to be defiled by the Palace of the Soviets. Soon, the project was abandoned.

In 1992, the Russian Orthodox Church started collecting money to rebuild the Cathedral. Once again, people from all over the country began to donate money for the construction. These were the years of great poverty for the Russian people, yet they found money for this testament to their desire to salvage their cultural heritage from complete oblivion.The Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow was consecrated in 2000.

I hope that now everybody understands why it bothers me so much that the pseudo-progressive Western media are glorifying a bunch of money-hungry idiots who vandalized this place of worship with its unique and painful history.

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21 comments on “Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow

  1. I believe that in the Bolshevik times the site became a public swimming bath because they couln’t build anything on it. Oh, and I can see the second picture now, thanks.

      • When I visited Russia in 1995 they were just starting the rebuilding, but I visited the Danilov Monastery, where one of the churches was in a similar style. It had not been demolished, but had been used as a reform school, with toilets in the altar. What struck me was the concern to rebuild it exactly as it had been before. In some rebuilt churches the ikons were in a better style than the ones the Bolsheviks destroyed. But in these churches they tried to restore them exactly. There was a concern to restore the status quo ante, as if to say to the Bolsheviks, “You thought you could destroy this, but you could not.”

      • And the beautiful cathedrals that were destroyed in Ukraine! What an atrocity!! Those cathedrals that weren’t destroyed were defiled.

        There is a beautiful novel from the 1960s by a Ukrainian writer, Oles Honchar, titled “The Cathedral.” It’s about Ukrainian villagers who unite to defend a Cathedral built by the Cossaks and that is used as a repository for potatoes. That was a very dangerous thing to write during those times. Of course, there isn’t a single word about religion in the novel. The villagers defend the Cathedral because of its aesthetic and historic value. But the religious message is still implicit. People who support the Cathedral become better human beings, kinder, gentler. It’s like they see the light when they realize the Cathedral’s importance.

  2. Wow, thank you for that bit of history. Your anger makes total sense to me now.

    (I can see the second picture, too. “Soulless” is the word that first comes to my mind.)

  3. Nice post! I had no clue about the cathedral’s story. As you know, I’m not a religious person in the common sense, but cathedrals fascinate me. On the other hands, those kind of monstruosities in the second picture also fascinate me. It makes me sick when I think about it, but I can’t avoid it!

  4. This is such a great post.

    I must say… that I like the architecture of the Palace of the Soviets. But I am known to like the ugliest buildings.

  5. I have been here. :) I think this is an interesting bit of history and I completely agree that the Soviets were mostly Philistines when it came to architecture (I do however find the metro stations and propaganda posters interesting). On the other hand, I was inclined to feel that there were too many churches being built all over Moscow, and that cannot be such a good thing in my book. It reeks of a society with many problems that’s turning to “opium” for relief. These are probably funded by the ill-gotten gains of mafia-businessmen billionaires anyway. This one probably has a lot of cultural and historic value, I doubt the same can be said of all the others.

    • There is this great joke where a Russian gangster gets out of his huge Jeep and leaves $100 in a church’s donation box. As he walks back to his Jeep, a lorry hits him and speeds off. As he lies there bleeding, another gangster arrives in a Jeep, gets out and heads to the same donation box.

      “Buddy, wait, don’t go!” the wounded gangster says. “That fucken thing is broken.”

      So yes, you are absolutely right.

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