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Author Topic: St. Basil's Cathedral  (Read 4158 times)

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Offline Jack

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St. Basil's Cathedral
« on: January 22, 2005, 01:48:24 PM »
Dan, thanks for the cool looking new design board.

Their are a lot of guys here posting on the RWD that I am sure have many good photos of their trips to the FSU.

Here is, as I recall, my first photo of St. Basil's in Red Square. I took this photo in 1996, but it looks much the same today as it did 444 years ago when it was completed.
You ever hear of the "holy fool" Basil the Blessed (1468-1552)?
Moscow's, and one of the world's, most recogizable landmarks, St. Basil's Cathedral, was named after him. I write that Basil died in the year 1552 but I have read other accounts that say he died on August 2, 1555 and August 2, 1557.  According to tradition Basil was clairvoyant from an early age. In the burning summer heat and in the winter's harsh frost, Basil walked about barefoot through the streets of Moscow. Often Basil walked through Moscow wearing nothing more than a long beard. He would throw rocks at wealthy peoples houses and stole from dishonest traders in Red Square. Especially for the wealthy, he was an annoyance. In the eyes of some, he was a troublemaker. There are tales of him destroying the merchandise of dishonest tradesmen at the market on Red Square. Once he upset a stand with kalachi, and then he spilled a jug with kvas. Angry merchants throttled the blessed one, but he endured the beatings with joy and he thanked God for them. Then it was discovered, that the kalachi were poorly cooked, the kvas was badly prepared. The reputation of Blessed Basil quickly grew: in him they perceived a fool, a man of God, a denouncer of wrong. Czar Ivan the Terrible feared no man but Basil. Basil was also given to eating meat on Good Friday. Once he went to Ivan and forced the Czar to eat raw meat during the fast saying, Why abstain from eating meat when you murder men? Countless Russians died for much less, but Ivan was afraid to let any harm come to the saintly Basil. Basil was so revered by Muscovites that, when he died, his thin body was buried, not in a pauper's grave on the city's edge, but next to the newly erected Cathedral of the Protection of the Mother of God. The people began to call the church St. Basil's. Not many years passed before Basil was formally canonized by the Russian Church.

The Protection of the Mother Cathedral was ordered built by Ivan the Terrible and was built starting in 1555 and completed in 1561. On completion of the church it is said Ivan ordered the architect to be blinded so he could never build such another beautiful Cathedral like it again. St. Basil's is a delightful array of swirling colors and redbrick towers. Its design consists of eight chapels, each topped with an onion dome. The cathedral's beautiful exterior mask a much more modestly decorated and somewhat less spectacular interior.
Located at the southern end of Red Square, St. Basil's has narrowly escaped destruction a number of times. In 1812, the French army stabled their horses in St.Basil's Cathedral. Before leaving Moscow, Napoleon ordered it to be blown up, but cold, hunger and fear of sabotage by the people of Moscow prevented the order from being carried out. Although another version has said that Napoleon was so impressed with St. Basil's that he wanted to take it back to Paris with him, but lacking to the technology to do so, ordered instead that it be destroyed with the French retreat from the city. The French set up kegs of gunpowder and lit their fuses, but a sudden, miraculous shower helped to extinguish the fuses and prevent the explosion.  Early in this century the cathedral almost fell prey to the atheist principles of the Bolshevik regime. In 1918 Lenin's communist authorities shot the church's senior priest, Ioann Vostorgov, confiscated its property, melted down its bells and closed the cathedral down. In the 1930s Lazar Kaganovich, a close colleague of Stalin and director of the Red Square reconstruction plan, suggested that St. Basil's be knocked down to create space and ease the movement of public parades and vehicle movement on the square. Stalin rejected his proposal.  Years later St. Basil was ordered destroyed again. This time the courage of the architect and devotee of Russian culture, P. Baranovsky, saved the church. When ordered to prepare the cathedral for destruction he refused and threatened to cut his own throat on the steps of the church, then sent a bluntly worded telegram to the leader of the party himself relating the above. For some reason Stalin cancelled the decision to knock the church down and for his efforts Baranovsky was rewarded with five years in jail.
The cathedral is now a branch of the State Historical museum. The first divine service was held in October, 14, 1991, however regular divine services are not made.

Offline evinierato

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St. Basil's Cathedral
« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2005, 03:08:19 PM »
In all my years of living in the FSU and Moscow, I never learned Jack's story.

Most interesting. Thanks for the post.



Offline Bruno

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St. Basil's Cathedral
« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2005, 08:18:32 AM »
And a last little detail : It is said that Ivan the Terrible had the architects blinded so that they could never again design a building so beautiful.

Strange thanks for a good work !!!

Offline anono

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St. Basil's Cathedral
« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2005, 01:51:16 PM »
dang! jack's a history brainiac too! 

now tell us the story about the first inhabitant's of kiev :-)
« Last Edit: January 26, 2005, 01:51:00 PM by anono »


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