The Army Cathedral of Christ’s Resurrection in the last 100 years
100 years ago in 1919, the Don Cossacks were to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Army Cathedral of Christ’s Resurrection. 20 years before, the board of the Don Army had made a petition to the Imperial Archaeological Commission (IAK) to assist in the restoration of the Resurrection Cathedral and its interior decoration. At first, this correspondence was not fast, but the less time left before the anniversary of the cathedral, the more intense and businesslike it became, especially after 1911.
Unfortunately, the celebration of the anniversary of the cathedral was not destined to come true. In the anniversary year of 1919, the Don and all of Russia were swept by the civil war. The victory of the Soviet army followed by white emigration, the seizure of church property, the actions of the Militant Atheists Union, … Despite this, until 1936 the cathedral remained open. Then it was closed. And in 1939 a local museum was set up in the gallery. The Great Patriotic War prevented the compilation of its exposition. During the war in 1942, prayer returned to the church — worship services were held in it before the Khrushchev anti-religious campaign. Due to the lack of restoration, the cathedral came in such a terrible state that it could not but cause a bitter feeling of regret for our history. In 1958, the temple was transferred to the branch of the Novocherkassk Museum of the Don Cossacks and the domes were restored.
During the time of Leonid Brezhnev in the late 60s, historians began to sound the alarm, attracted the attention of the authorities, and on October 9, 1968, the Rostov Region Executive Committee decided to create in Starocherkassk the Don Historical and Architectural Museum-Reserve at the expense of local funds. However, local capacity was very limited in comparison with the amount of work and costs required. It was imperative that the Council of Ministers of the RSFSR allocate money for restoration.
Historians and local authorities did not manage to reach the Council of Ministers, so they appealed to the well-known don writer M.A. Sholokhov. On December 30, 1970, in response to a letter from M.A. Sholokhov, the Council of Ministers of the RSFSR adopted a resolution “On the organization of the Starocherkassk Historical and Architectural Museum-Reserve in the Rostov Region” and allocated the necessary funds.
Before starting work, the restorers had an internship in the Vladimir workshop. First of all, it was decided to protect the choir painting from further destruction, fully reinforce the gesso and the paint layer, and then carry on all other restoration work. The paintings here are unique and have no analogies in Russian monumental painting. This painting was in a terrible state: about 20 percent of it was shed, most of the surviving were kept by a miracle, everywhere there were swelling, peeling. For more than five months, the restorers strengthened the painting choir, then their clearance began. The author’s painting was freed from dirt, soot and later recordings, it became clearly readable and revealed subtle relations of green, blue and pink colors.
The temple icon is always interesting, it is usually decorated, better than other icons. A more talented artist painted it – if several masters worked on the iconostasis. In the fall of 1972 in Starocherkassk, right in the Cathedral, preventive sealing of the icon “The Resurrection of Christ” was carried out with tissue paper. A few months later it was taken from the iconostasis, packed and brought to Rostov for restoration.
A number of restoration works were also carried out in the 80s, in particular, the “Coronation of the Virgin” canvas in the altar was restored.
Since 1931, the import, printing and sale of the Bible, as well as other Orthodox literature, were banned in the USSR. These books were equated with anti-Soviet, since, in the opinion of the party, they contradicted the ideas of Marxism-Leninism. Because of this, the restorers were not sufficiently informed even in simple matters related to the gospel. So, for example, the icon of the meeting of Christ with the Samaritan woman in the subchamber row of the iconostasis of the cathedral was restored and signed “The Temptation of Jesus by the Devil.”
In the 90s the revival of the Cossacks begins. In November 1990, the Constituent Congress of the Don Cossacks took place, one of whose meetings was held on the Maidan in front of the cathedral. It was attended by 417 delegates led by 74 elected atamans from all districts of the former Great Don Army.
On April 16, 1990, on Monday of Holy Week, after the completion of the next stage of the restoration of the cathedral, the church was solemnly consecrated by the Metropolitan of Rostov and Novocherkassk Vladimir (Slobodan).
In 1994, the St. Donskoy Starocherkassk Monastery opened. Archimandrite Modest was appointed as its deputy. The revival of the monastery had to start almost from scratch. The first year the brotherhood had to spend the winter in a rented unheated room. They climbed into sleeping bags for the night, because the floor on which they slept was covered with a crust of ice by morning. Father Modest cried when said that “it is very necessary to restore the monastery.”
By presidential decree No. 176 of 02/20/1995, the Starocherkassk Historical and Architectural Museum-Reserve is included in the List of Historical and Cultural Heritage Objects of Federal (All-Russian) Value.
On February 7, 2008, the building of the Army Cathedral of Christ’s Resurrection building was transferred to the Don monastery for the holding of regular Divine services and the revival of spiritual life. Previously, the Army Cathedral of Christ’s Resurrection was a “cold” church. Maintaining the right temperatures in such temples is accomplished with a complex system of ventilation channels in thick walls: in the summer they keep cool and in the winter – warm. In 2012, work was carried out to restore the heating system of the cathedral. For the first time in many decades, it became possible to hold divine service in the Cathedral in the winter. In the same year it was time to restore the painting of the domes. Green color – a symbol of eternal life and the Holy Spirit – was decided to replace by the traditional black monasteries – the color of monasticism, austerity and dedication of their lives to God.
On October 13, 2015, within the Primacy visit to the Don Metropolis, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia led the solemn evening service in the cathedral on the eve of the Our Lady’s Intercession feast. This is the first service of the Patriarch within the walls of Starocherkassk Cathedral. In memory of this service, an inscription was made on one of the iron plates.
In the spring of 2016, archpriest Valery Voloschuk, chairman of the Art and Architecture Commission of the Rostov-on-Don diocese, was appointed senior priest of the cathedral. Together with him, the parish of St. George the Victorious assumed the care of the Army Cathedral of Christ’s Resurrection.
Recently authorities of Rostov region decided to allocate funds for the restoration of the bell tower. There is a discussion of the project creation for the reconstruction of the cathedral. An important point is the restoration of the unique iconostasis, which was so thoroughly discussed 100 years ago by the Imperial Archaeological Commission. We ask for your prayers.
Lord, bless us to return the former beauty to our cathedral!