What a thrill it was yesterday for Russians to experience the formal consecration and reopening of the Cathedral of Saint Nicholas in Kronstadt! The Naval cathedral of Saint Nicholas, built in 1903–1913, was the main temple of Russia’s Baltic Fleet and dedicated to the memory of all fallen seamen.
A marvel of modern technology at the time, the cathedral was equipped with an independent central heating and a central vacuum cleaning system using a complex network of pressurized manifolds and valves and an electrical lighting system requiring 5 thousand light bulbs.
The Soviets closed the cathedral in 1929 and it was used for decades as offices and later as a museum. Video before the rehabilitation of Cathedral interior:
Yesterday Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill along with President Medvedev and his wife Svetlana attended the consecration ceremony of the Naval Cathedral. The ceremony was led by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.
The Naval Cathedral of Saint Nicholas in Kronstadt is the main temple of the Russian Navy, founded in 1902 by decree of Emperor Nicholas II in honour of the 200th anniversary of the Russian Navy by Peter the Great. In 1929 the Cathedral was closed and desecrated by the Communists.
In 2009 a board of trustees was established to restore the cathedral which is expected to be fully restored in time for the 100th anniversary of its first consecration, which will be celebrated in 2013.
Modeled after the Orthodox Cathedral of Saint Sophia (6th century AD) in Constantinople, the exterior walls are covered with granite, gray and yellow brick and decorated with polished frames and columns of portals with Terra-cotta ornaments, and mosaics. In May of 2011 Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia toured the restoration efforts along with Russian First Lady Svetlana Medvedeva.
The Cathedral can accommodate 5,000 worshipers and its unfinished restoration was a theme of some military opposition groups during the political rallies after the Duma elections in December 2011 and Presidential election of March 2012.
After the ceremony, President Medvedev addressed the dignitaries and Naval officers present for the ceremony.
(President Medvedev): Your Holiness, residents of Kronstadt, friends,
Today is a great day in the history of Kronstadt and our country: the Naval Cathedral of Saint Nicholas has just been consecrated. I am very glad that it happened during the Bright Week. I would like to sincerely congratulate all of you on this very important event.
The Naval Cathedral has a very complicated history, in which, like in a drop of water, the dramatic 20th century history of our nation is reflected. It was built and consecrated in the beginning of the century; this was done by popular demand of sailors, who were personally involved in collecting donations and contributed to the construction of the cathedral in cooperation with the Admiralty. St John of Kronstadt also participated in the cathedral’s consecration. Unfortunately, because of subsequent events, the cathedral was desecrated and for a long time the building was used for other purposes. But a city like Kronstadt, a city that is home to Russia’s naval base, must have its own large naval cathedral.
I am truly happy that through the blessing of the Patriarch, the hard work of so many people and the substantial donations, this pearl of Russian ecclesiastical architecture has been restored to its original glory. I will say even more: as His Holiness and I have just noted, the cathedral looks better than it did 100 years ago. And that is wonderful because Kronstadt has its own, special naval traditions. Our naval base is located here, our sailors live here, and everything breathes the history of the great Russian fleet. Therefore, immediately after the consecration, the sailors will be able to come to the cathedral to pray and remember their comrades, and to receive blessings for future feats of arms. Nothing strengthens the army and navy as much as spiritual unity.
Citizens of Kronstadt, friends, for decades we looked at the cathedral and thought to ourselves: when will it again become as beautiful as it used to be? Now it has happened. Thank you to everyone who took part in this initiative. My heartfelt congratulations to you on this historic occasion.
Restoration Board of Trustees:
Svetlana Medvedeva (First Lady of Russia), deputy head of Presidential Administration Alexander Beglov, the Orthodox Metropolitan of St. Petersburg Ladoga Vladimir, the head of the Federal Service for Supervision cultural heritage projects Kibovsky Alexander, the presidential envoy in the Northwestern Federal District Ilya Klebanov, Saint Petersburg Governor Valentina Matvienko, and State Duma deputy Leonid Slutsky.
Russian readers can read more about this historic cathedral at http://lifeglobe.net/blogs/details?id=538.