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The construction of the Cathedral

Prehistory

In October 1888, when the memories of the emperor’s visit to Ekaterinodar were fresh, a report astounded the whole town. On the 17th of October the emperor’s crashed when crossing the station Borki. As the accident did not affect the royal family, the day came to be celebrated for all Russia.

In a year, on the 17th of October, 1889 it was set up by the public of Ekaterinodar to immortalize the historical event with a monument. After a public prayer in the Alexander Nevski Cathedral the town, merchant and petty bourgeois councils gathered at the Town Council Hall to hold a conference. It was decided to build a majestic Cathedral with seven altars, the main being consecrated in the name of St. great martyr Catherine, the others – after the patron saints of members of the royal family: Mary, Nicholas, George, Michael, Xenia and Olga. 

Raising the money

The fund-raising for the construction began. The Ekaterinodar Town Council promised to direct 2% of the income for the work of mercy. Money boxes were maintained in several social and
credit agencies, donations were being made by individuals and establishments. A large plaster model of the Cathedral was exhibited in the Town Council Hall to display the grandeur and beaty of the future Cathedral. The town authorities, the merchant, petty bourgeois and other councils yearly provided money for the process, including voluntary donations. 50.000 rubles were raised by 1896. 

The location

A special committee elected by the Town Council first designed a place in the 113th square of the town (now the square between Kirova, Gorkogo, Frunze and Pashkovskaya streets) for the future Cathedral. But the negotiations with its residents failed. By the year 1896 the initiators of the building had a sum of almost 50.000 rubles at their disposal. It was enough to begin with, but the question with the location was still open.
In February, 1896 the Town Council proposed building the Cathedral on the St. Catherine Square, the town’s center. The little St. Catherine’s church which stood there was so old that it was about to ruin. The Council decided to abolish the old church to give place to a majestic historic Cathedral.
For many years the church’s clergy collected donations for the restoration, which were redirected for the building of the seven-altar St. Catherine Cathedral, with the permission of the diocesan authorities and the consent of the church’s parish.

 Laying of the foundation stone

The project of the Cathedral was designed by a local architect Ivan Malgherb. The project in its entirety was approved by the engineering and building committee under the economic administration of the Holy Synod in September 1899. The ceremonial laying of the foundation stone happened on the 23rd of April, Sunday, 1900. After a divine service in the Alexander Nevski Cathedral a religious procession moved out to the construction site. The building was blessed by archbishop of Stavropol and Ekaterinodar, His Eminence Agafodor. 

Building

The building started in 1900, but it was frequently suspended because of insufficient funding. The first two years the work went rapidly, about 2.5 million bricks were laid. Later the process was held up due to insufficient funding and revolutionary events, and the unfinished Cathedral lonely raised above the square until 1908. The brick laying was finished only in 1909.

The “Kubanskiy Kray” newspaper from 20.09.1911 wrote: “That Sunday the St. Catherine square was filled with people willing to witness the lifting of the cross onto the main dome of the seven-altar Cathedral. The cross, about 45 poods (about 1617 lbs.), was already lying on the square, wrapped in tissue and towels and fixed to a steel wire rope.

The crowd grew, and soon made it impossible for cabs to pass through Kotlyarovskaya St. At about 2:00 p.m. the workers took up the steel rope and the winch; the people all took of their hats and crossed themselves. In an hour the cross reached the dome and was secured to it.

In 1911 the wife of I. Dobrovolski, a merchant, passed away and was later buried in one of the burial vaults in the lower part of the Cathedral. In her memory I. Dobrovolski decided to sponsor the building of the Cathedral’s lower part, and the building of the upper part was suspended.

The exterior works were finished by 1912, but the work yet to be done still lacked funding. The mayor of Ekaterinodar M. Skvorikov repeatedly had to appeal to the people for financial support: “Only if those, who cherish the memory of events mentioned above, incorporate in their assistance, would it be possible to push through and accomplish the building of the Cathedral, that will become the town’s primary adornment and a monument for the whole region”.

The building of the region’s largest Cathedral, with a capacity of 4 thousand people, was finished only in 1914. The cost of the construction, without the internal finish, summed up to 300 000 rubles. I. Izhakevich, member of the Kiev Association of Religious Painters, participated in decorating the walls.

The ceremonial consecration of the main altar took place on the 23rd of March, 1914.
The new Cathedral acquired an informal name – the Red Cathedral. Its brick was red, and the Cathedral was majestic and beautiful, as in old Russian, “red”! (translator’s note - The old Russian word, meaning “beautiful” now stands for “red”.)

2011-01-13  |  Print version

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