St. Petersburg, Russia

Curch of St. Catherine the Martyr, St. Petersburg, Russia

The first church, built of wood, was constructed here in the 1740s by cavalrymen from the Caucasus. Later it became a ‘pox’ church – that is a church reserved for sufferers of smallpox. The priests then serving the church were permanently quarantined within its compounds, surely not a posting to fill any priest with joy!

This wooden church survived for around 60 years before being burnt down in 1809. The current church was erected in stone by 1823 with a Greek Orthodox layout of cross-shape church with a central dome. It was crowned by a lead-covered wooden angle holding a gilded sword. Inside was an icon for Catherine the Martyr who was popular in St. Petersburg as two Empresses bore her name.

After the Revolution the church managed to survive longer than most without being closed, but closed it was in 1931 when it was handed over first to the Hydrological Institute and then later to the Petroleum Research Institute.

Neither organisation had much use for a church building and so it slowly began to degenerate until the fall of Communism and the revival of the church in Russia. The church is now under restoration and a copy of the original lead angel now waits near the entrance for it to be returned to its rightful place atop the dome.

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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