St. Catherine the Great Martyr Church (Moscow)

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The Church of St. Catherine the Great Martyr in-the-Fields located in Moscow, Russia is the representation church (podvorye/metochion) for the Orthodox Church in America to the Church of Russia. The church was built in the mid-eighteenth century, as St. Catherine's Church 'na Vspolie' ('in the fields') in the region of the city of Moscow assigned to the cosmetics guild.


During the sixteenth century a settlement for cosmetics merchants was established by Tsarina Anastasia Romanova, wife of Ivan IV, in the Zamoskvorechie ("the area beyond the River Moscow"). Later in the century, Tsarina Irina Feororovna (wife of Tsar Feodor I) directed the building in that area of a church dedicated to St. Catherine. Initially, believed to have been built of wood, the church was damaged during the Time of Troubles as the area was the battleground between Russian defenders and Polish and Lithuanian forces.

Subsequent to the battles, repairs and additions were made to the church. A side-[[chapel], dedicated to St. Nicholas, was added to the church in 1636 as stone began to be used. In 1696, the church underwent restoration, including the presentation of new antimins to the church. During the eighteenth century the parish church underwent major changes and reconstruction, as the style of the architecture of the church was changed to that of European baroque and rococo, with pavilion gardens and aristocratic elegance. In a church dedicated to her patron saint, Catherine II produced a new architecture in the city of Moscow that was also a monument to the work of the architect Karl Blank, a favorite of Empress Catherine II. This church was unheated and became the "summer" church of the St. Catherine complex. Construction began on May 25, 1766. The church was consecrated on September 28, 1767. A second, heated winter church was built in the mid-nineteenth century, between 1870 to 1872.

The winter church was built with three altars, the main one dedicated to the Image of the Savior Not Made by Hands and the two side altars were dedicated to Ss Nicholas and Alexander Nevsky. The three altars were consecrated respectively on November 21, November 24, and November 10, all in 1872. The bell tower was enlarged at the same time, and modified in harmony with the existing architecture. Before its closure during the Soviet period, Patr. Tikhon, the newly elected patriarch, visited the Church of St. Catherine for pastoral services and especially for Divine Liturgy on St. Catherine's feast day, December 7.

Before being closed by the Bolsheviks in 1931 the church was stripped of most of its furnishings. Its clergy were among the many Orthodox Christians who were declared enemies of the state and martyred. In 1922, some 200 kilograms of gold and silver objects were confiscated from the church by the Soviets. By the time the church was closed all icons were stolen. The church was used for offices of a machine equipment institute, as well as being reconfigured with three floors for communal residences. Early in the 1980s, restoration work began on the buildings by the Igor Graber State Restoration Center.

With the collapse of the Soviet government in the early 1990s much of the lost real property of the Russian Orthodox Church began to be returned. The Church of St. Catherine was among some of the earliest to be returned. With this newly regained freedom, the Russian Orthodox Church was able to restore communion with her sister Local Churches. In 1992, Archpriest Daniel Hubiak arrived in Moscow from the Orthodox Church in America to establish a representation church (a metachion) to the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church, a facility that was part of the Tomos of Autocephaly of 1970. This became possible with the advent of democracy in Russia.

Church of St. Simeon the Stylite and Bell Tower over the Gate, St. Daniel Monastery, Moscow

Initially, services in English by Fr. Daniel were conducted in the bell tower Church of St. Symeon the Stylite at the Monastery of St. Daniel until a suitable church could be found. Because of its central location the Church of St. Catherine was placed at the disposal of the OCA.

By 1994, the green onion dome with its gold cross appeared once again as St. Catherine's Church, and the church was reopened for worship as the primates of the Church of Russia and the OCA, His Holiness Alexei II and His Beatitude Theodosius respectively, jointly served a prayer service in St. Catherine's Church for the first time in sixty years. Fr. Daniel Hubiak was appointed rector of the reopened church.

His Holiness Alexei II and His Beatitude Theodosius concelebrated the Divine Liturgy and consecrated the Representation Church of the Orthodox Church in America, St. Catherine the Great Martyr, on June 11, 1999.


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