Holy Trinity Cathedral in Pskov

Holy Trinity Cathedral (Pskov).

Holy Trinity Cathedral (Pskov)

The Cathedral of the Holy Trinity was built in 1682-1699 (the first temple – in the middle of the X century), is a part of the architectural ensemble of the Pskov Krom and is its main building.


History [ edit ]

The first Holy Trinity cathedral in Pskov was built of wood at the command of holy Princess Olga in the middle of the X century: “Blessed Olga came near the river, speaking Pskov, and stood at the mouth of the river… And suddenly a great vision saw bright beams lighting up the place, prophesying and proclaiming: on this place there will be a church of the Holy Trinity and the great and glorious city…”.

The second cathedral was erected in stone in the XII century by Vsevolod-Gavriil, the first prince of Pskov. Its image can be approximately represented by an icon of the prince at the altar in the Trinity cathedral (Vsevolod-Gabriel is depicted full-length, holding in his palm a model of the temple).

The most remarkable was the third Trinity cathedral of 1367 (consecrated on 30 of January 1368), which played a major role in the development of local architectural tradition. Reconstruction of the cathedral shows 25 (!) thrones (with temples of Dovmont town), one-domed powerful temple and 32 (!) slopes of its overlap.

During a great fire in 1609 almost everything in the cathedral burned down, but the fire did not affect the reliquaries with the relics of Vsevolod-Gavriel and Dovmont-Timothei. In 1623, a new oak cross of Olga was erected instead of the cross of Princess Olga, which burned down in a fire in 1609.

The current Trinity cathedral, the fourth in a row, was laid in 1682 on the same place where the previous temples stood. The construction was completed in 1699.

The temple has two stories. There are windows on the north and south walls. In the cathedral were originally prince Alexander Nevsky and Prince Gavriil of Pskov side chapels, which was consecrated on April 8, 1703. Under Archbishop Simon (Todorsky) in the basement of the cathedral was arranged a chapel in honor of Princess Olga. This side chapel was destroyed by fire in 1770.

The iconostasis in the main church is seven-tier carved, gilded and executed at the end of the XVII-beginning of the XVIII centuries. The upper tiers were made at the end of the XVIII-beginning of the XIX centuries. In 1759 Pechersky monk Jason “corrected” and gilded it again.

Simultaneously with the temple, separately from it, the bell tower was built. It is based on a fortress tower that used to stand there. The base of the bell tower was built by Pskov masters. It was rebuilt in the late XVIII – early XIX centuries. The upper part of the bell tower was wooden, after the fires in 1770 and 1778 it was rebuilt in brick. The clock on the tower was first established in the XVIII century, at the present time on the tower is a German clock, installed in 1884.

In 1770 for the strengthening of the walls of the building after the fire there were built buttresses.

In XVII-XVIII centuries the basement of the Trinity cathedral became a burial vault for Pskov bishops.

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After the construction of the warm Annunciation Cathedral was finished in 1836, divine services in the Trinity Cathedral were held only in summer.

On August 22, 1852 the gilded central dome of the cathedral was opened. The gilding was made at the expenses collected from the Pskov citizens by subscription, a considerable sum was contributed by the mayor of the city. In 1856 the iconostasis was gilded again, the icons in the side-altar church of St. Alexander Nevsky were renewed.

At the entrance to the cathedral instead of the wooden one, a stone watchtower was built in 1891. In 1894-1895 the cathedral was plastered from the outside. April 22, 1901 held the full consecration of the Trinity Cathedral, renovated at the expense of the Synod and its own.

There was no parish patronage or parochial school at the Trinity Cathedral, as there was no parish. There was an almshouse for 9 people attached to the Church of the Holy Myrrh-bearers.

In March of 1922 a campaign to repossess the Church’s valuables began. Twice the commission on confiscation of valuables could not get into the Trinity cathedral, their appearance was met with indignation and violent protests of believers. It was only when “the commission managed to get into the cathedral unnoticed that the seizure was nevertheless made.

On October 4, 1922 in the Trinity cathedral a diocesan congress of the Pskov clergy took place. There were 80 people at the congress. The Renewed faithful hoped to approve a new version of the charter, which would have allowed them to seize power in the diocese and eliminate priests loyal to Patriarch Tikhon, but their hopes ended in failure: the Pskov diocese remained loyal to the patriarch.

Already in 1923, the cathedral was in the hands of the newcomers. According to the documents, a parish church council governed the cathedral, and the cathedral was called “City Cathedral”. It is known that the “new believers” were not able to entice the faithful to join them. This is proved by a letter of the council of the cathedral of September 15, 1924, to the provincial insurance department: “In view of the insolvency of the council, because of the very scanty material resources, which can hardly be used for settlements with the parish, the watchmen and the urgent needs of the cathedral, the council “categorically refuses to pay the insurance” and asked to “take the insurance off the cathedral for all future time”. On September, 22nd, 1924, the provincial insurance department in its turn informed the provincial executive committee that “in spite of all the taken measures, the due insurance payments were not made in time”. On November 13th , 1924 the Pskov provincial executive committee made a decision about the cancellation of the contract “with the group of believers, using the Holy Trinity cathedral”, the reason being “non-fulfillment of the concluded contract by the group of believers”. The cathedral was handed over to the other Renewed Church-Parish Council of the cathedral.

At the session of Pskov district executive committee of December 15, 1935 the petition of the church twenty about the closure of the Trinity cathedral was heard. It was decided to satisfy the petition “to transfer the building of the cathedral to museum for organization of branch museum (antireligious)”. In 1938 an antireligious museum was opened in the cathedral. They installed a Foucault pendulum in the cathedral and blasphemously displayed the relics of saints.

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During the Great Patriotic War, the Germans allowed the Pskov Orthodox Mission to open the cathedral. The Trinity Cathedral was the first temple opened by Metropolitan Sergius (Voskresensky) on Pskov land. Services went every day in the morning and evening, and the temple was always full of people. Proclaiming “religious freedom” in the occupied land, the Nazis hoped that the churches they opened would become centers of anti-Soviet propaganda. But the churches became centers of revival of Russian national consciousness and Orthodoxy.

On January 1, 1942, as propaganda, the occupiers organized the transfer to the cathedral of the Tikhvin icon of the Mother of God that had been saved from the burning temple in Tikhvin. However archpriest George Benigsen in the presence of German commanders in his sermon spoke about a feat of Alexander Nevskiy who released Pskov and Novgorod from invaders. On the Easter night of 1943 the cathedral was overcrowded with the praying people among whom there were a lot of youth. The service was led by Exarch Metropolitan Sergius; with his sermon, he brought tears of tenderness and joy to the congregation. This service was broadcast on the radio. A grandiose procession with the relics of St. Vsevolod Gabriel took place on November 21, 1943; the procession participants carried the miracle-working icon of the Mother of God, bugles and crosses.

While retreating, the Nazis mined the Trinity cathedral. Surprise mines they have established even at a Tsar gate. When demining the cathedral sappers were killed, the lower tier of the iconostasis was damaged. The deminers managed to prevent the explosion of mines which had been set in other parts of the cathedral.

After the war, the necessary repairs and restorations in the cathedral were carried out on church funds under the leadership of Yuri Pavlovich Spegalsky. In official reports it was especially emphasized that “the plan of works for 1946 did not include the Trinity cathedral”.

For the first time after 1917 in the Trinity cathedral were met July 23, 1946 Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexy I. Numerous crowds of people with flowers came to greet the Patriarch. The Patriarch consecrated the newly opened cathedral during the war years.

A memo from the director of the local history museum to the regional Communist Party committee on April 18, 1962 suggested that the cathedral be turned back into a museum to be called the “House of Scientific and Technical Propaganda”. It was suggested to return the Foucault pendulum to the cathedral, “leaving the iconostasis, leave the relics in place, equip a planetarium and create an exhibition hall. However, the Soviet authorities did not dare to close the cathedral, the cathedral remained active.

In the 1980s it was re-consecrated a chapel of St. Seraphim of Sarov; all the interior decoration of the chapel was made under the project of the architect S. P. Mikhailov. Lost by this time, part of the tiles outside replenished St. Petersburg ceramists E. Pearl and V. Tsivin.

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Modern condition [ edit ]

At present there are three chapels in the cathedral besides the main church: the Kazan icon of the Mother of God, the Prince Alexander Nevsky and the Venerable Seraphim of Sarov. The southern side-chapel in honor of the Kazan icon of the Mother of God was consecrated after the destruction of Kazan Church in 1960. All the property of the Kazan church was transferred to that side-chapel. The three-tier iconostasis is transferred from the church in the village of Kunest.

The Trinity cathedral.

Usually when I go to see another Old Russian fortress, it associates in my mind first of all with the walls and towers. The interior buildings I often perceive as separate objects, especially if we are talking about churches. However, there are exceptions to all the rules, and one of them was the Pskov Holy Trinity Cathedral. In this sense, Pskov is unique, because its churches are more than just places of worship.

In addition to the fact that they supported the morale of the Pskov citizens during the siege, some of them had also administrative functions – in particular, the Trinity Cathedral. Until the 16th century Pskov was a trading republic, and on the Veche Square in front of the cathedral princes were elected and other important decisions for the citizens were taken.

Religion of medieval Pskov

Although religious and cultural differences were more acute in the Middle Ages than they are today when it comes to trade, they often receded into the background. This is why medieval ports and mercantile towns have always been centers of religious tolerance and cultural exchange between peoples.

In this sense, I am rather surprised by Pskov: being for the rest of Russia essentially a window to Europe, this city remained independent and isolated until the early 16th century, and the Pskovites did not particularly pity outsiders. Suffice it to say that all deals with foreign merchants were carried out outside the Pskov fortress, to penetrate beyond the walls of which the foreign guests were forbidden on pain of death. Of course, there were no Catholic or Lutheran churches on the territory of Old Pskov. On the contrary, in terms of concentration of orthodox churches per square kilometer, the city is probably not inferior to Suzdal.

Outwardly, I found the main cathedral in Pskov more graceful than the other local churches, which are roughly executed. The thing is, in comparison with other temples of Pskov, this church in its present form was built only at the end of the XVII century.

History of the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity

According to legend, the first church at the place of the present church was ordered to be laid in the X century by princess Olga, who herself was from these places. This fact is remarkable if only because then Christianity was not yet an official religion in Russia, so you can say with certainty that we are talking about one of the first, if not the very first Russian Christian Church.

The first temple was wooden, and there were three stone cathedrals, including the present one, at different times on this place. The first was built in the 12th century by order of Grand Prince Vsevolod-Gavriel, the future saint of Pskov, whose relics are still housed in the walls of the Trinity Cathedral. In 1363 the church collapsed, and a new stone church was erected in its place; it had stood for over three centuries, but in 1609 it was badly damaged by a fire, and in 1682 it was decided to build the church as it is now.

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The construction was finished only in 1699. At the end of the XVIII century, the open side galleries were added to strengthen the construction.

How to get to the Trinity Cathedral

The temple is located on the territory of the Pskov Kremlin or, as it is also called, the Kroma. Once behind the fortress gate, you will not recognize the Trinity Cathedral, which is not only the main, but also the only church in the walls of the Kremlin.

To get to the Pskov Kroma on foot or by car, Olginsky bridge over the Velikaya River should be a guide. The Krom is on the right bank of the river and if you stand with your back to the water, it will be on the left of the bridge. Address of Trinity cathedral – Kremlin street, 2/1.

From Pskov railway station to the Kremlin go by bus. In this case you need to get to the stop Ploshchad Lenina, the ones that go on routes number 1, 5, 8, 11, 14, 15 and 17 will suit you. The cost per trip is 20 rubles. Read more about how to get to Krom here.

It is important to remember that the Kremlin itself is a pedestrian area and no vehicles are allowed to enter it.

Terms of access to the Trinity Cathedral

You can enter the territory of the cathedral free of charge. However, keep in mind that it’s a working cathedral, so adhere to the appropriate dress code. It is allowed to take photos inside without flash.

In addition, near the entrance to the Kremlin there is a small tour agency where you can book a tour without an appointment. I recommend doing this, especially since for a mini-group the cost of an hour walk around the Kremlin with a visit to the cathedral is only 600 rubles.

The Cathedral itself is open to the public daily from 08:00 to 20:00.

There are regular divine services:

  • liturgy – 09.00, Monday-Saturday,
  • early liturgy – 07:30, Sunday,
  • late liturgy – 09.30, Sunday,
  • Vespers service – 17.00, every day.

You can find out about services on church holidays and other important events on the official website of the Pskov diocesan administration.

Trinity Cathedral icons in Pskov

When I climbed the steep stairs and got inside the temple, I immediately noticed that the imposing iconostasis was set against the bare walls. Wall frescoes were lost during the aforementioned fire of the XVII century, but the icons in the cathedral fully compensate for their absence, being the hallmark of the temple. Suffice it to say that even if you type in the search engine “Trinity Cathedral of Pskov” The icons will appear if not in the first, then in the second ten thematic images.

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As for the icons themselves, to me, as to the person not religious, the strongest impression was made by a modern painting “Cathedral of Pskov Saints”, which depicts all canonized natives of the Pskov land, starting with Princess Olga.

In my mind there is no connection between such a great number of saints and the free spirit of the Pskov inhabitants, bordering in some places on cruelty.

Besides, at first I was quite surprised to see above one of the icons a triangle with an eye in the middle, which is often called Masonic. In fact, the Freemasons borrowed it from the iconography and the eye is nothing else but the All-seeing Eye of the Lord. As for the triangle, it is just a symbol of the Trinity, so it is especially appropriate in the Trinity Cathedral.

Other popular icons include the images of the Mother of God of Chira and the Mother of God of the Holy Protection of the Holy Mary of Pskov written in the 16th century, the myrrh-streaming icon of St. Panteleimon (16th-18th centuries) and others.

Relics of the Trinity Cathedral

In addition to the rich iconostasis, the cathedral houses the relics of several Pskov saints. In particular, on the request “Trinity Cathedral of Pskov relics” you can easily find a photo of the richly decorated reliquary of the above mentioned Prince Vsevolod-Gavriel.

In addition to him and the Lithuanian Duke Dovmont, who found shelter in Pskov and was baptized under the name Timothy, within the walls of the cathedral there are also saints of less noble descent. Thus in the Trinity cathedral rests hegumen Joasaf who founded the Snetogorsky monastery near Pskov in the XIII century. In the year 1299 he was killed during an attack on Pskov by Livonian knights and has been revered as a martyr ever since. One more saint, foolish Nikola Salos, lived in the 16th century and is famous for not being afraid to accuse the pious Ivan IV the Terrible of cruelty, thus preventing mass executions of Pskov inhabitants.

A final word or two

Any fortress, first of all, is a monument of defense architecture. But we must remember that in the Middle Ages people sincerely believed that the intercession of the higher powers can be no less help in the battle than the walls and towers. That is why in every fortress, whether it be the Old Russian Kremlin or a Western European citadel, there was invariably at least one cathedral or just a church.

When it comes to Pskov, I equally perceive the Kremlin, the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity and the walls of the Falcon City as part of a single system of fortifications, which provided Pskovites with both physical and spiritual protection. The Church of the Holy Trinity is a full-fledged hallmark of the city and not a single album dedicated to the beauty of the Pskov land can do without a photo of the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. Pskov is a place where religion for centuries has been perceived not as a system of prohibitions, but as the basis of the free spirit of the Pskov people.

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