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St. Sophia. A general view from St. Sophia Square.
The Cathedral of St. Sophia in Kiev was founded by Grand Prince Yaroslav the Wise on the site of his victory over the Pechenegs, in the "field outside the city," to quote the words of a contemporary chronicler.1 On this emplacement the Grand Prince built a new part of the city of Kiev, broadening considerably the area encompassed by the citadel in the time of Grand Prince Volodymyr. He enclosed it with additional earthworks and walls pierced by three gates. Almost simultaneously with p10 the construction of the St. Sophia Cathedral, Yaroslav had built the Monastery of St. George and the Convent of St. Irene, the Church of the Annunciation on the Golden Gate, and other buildings within this enclosure.
The exact date of the construction of the cathedral has to be deduced by reconciling the contradictory data of the chronicles. Whereas the Sofiys'ky, Voskresens'ky and the Nykonovs'ky chronicles and the so‑called Rus'ky Vremennyk date the Pecheneg invasion and the foundation of the St. Sophia Cathedral in 1017, the author of the Primary Chronicle registers the attack of the Pecheneg nomads under the year 1036 and attributes the construction of the city walls, the Golden Gate, St. Sophia and the Monastery of St. George and the Convent of St. Irene to 1037. The same construction date is given by such recensions as the Laurentian, the Koenigsberg, the Hypatian, the Arkhangel, and other chronicles.
The Primary Chronicle gives the following information on the building activities of Grand Prince Yaroslav under the year 1037:
Yaroslav founded the great citadel of Kiev, by which citadel is the Golden Gate. He founded there also the Church of St. Sophia, the metropolitan church, and afterward the Church of the Annunciation of the Holy Virgin on the Golden Gate then the Monastery of St. George and [the Convent of] St. Irene.
Archpresbyter P. Lebedintsev, in his work on the St. Sophia of Kiev,2 expressed the opinion that the year 1037 should be accepted as a plausible date for the foundation of the cathedral. It is true that the Novgorod Chronicle relates under the year 1017 that "Yaroslav went to Berest'e and St. Sophia was founded in Kiev" and, according to Thietmar, Bishop of Merseburg, the Polish King Boleslaw the Bold and Prince Svyatopolk the Accursed3 visited the Church of St. Sophia in 1018. Lebedintsev thinks, however, that these references may be to a wooden church of St. Sophia erected by Grand Prince Yaroslav on the site of a St. Sophia Church supposedly built by the Princess St. Olga in the fifties of the 10th century. This construction, also a wooden one, burned some time between 1017 and 1018. As for the duration of the construction of St. Sophia, Lebedintsev thinks that it took no less than five and no more than fourteen years.
If we admit the evidence of chronicle sources which assign the first consecration of the St. Sophia Cathedral by Metropolitan Theopemptus to sometime between 1042 and 1049, the hypothesis of Lebedintsev might carry a certain amount of weight. However, some modern scholars (D. Aynalov, V. Zavitnevych, N. Sychov,4 and others) believe p11 that St. Sophia was built between 1017 and 1037 and the first additions made in the twelfth century.
Sophia — God's Wisdom — the name of this temple of the capital city, was borrowed from the name of the principal church of Constantinople, Hagia Sophia. The Hypatian Chronicle mentions and explains the name of the church in the following passage: "He founded the Church of St. Sophia, God's Wisdom, as a metropolitan cathedral." It was built by masters thoroughly familiar with the achievements of Byzantine art. In fulfilling the great task assigned them by the Grand Prince, they incorporated national art forms into the design and construction, erecting this impressive edifice in the Ukrainian-Byzantine style of their times.
The Church of St. Sophia was the most imposing building of Kiev and the glory of the architectural ensemble of the capital of Grand Princely Ukraine. Towering proudly above the surrounding buildings, it crowned the mountain over the banks of the Dnieper on which were situated the administrative center, the citadel of old Kiev and the residence of the Grand Prince of Ukraine‑Rus′. The Chronicles have this to say on the adornments and treasures which Prince Yaroslav lavished upon his metropolitan church:
Yaroslav, as we have said, was a lover of books, and as he wrote many, he deposited them in the Church of St. Sophia which he himself had founded. He adorned it with gold and silver and churchly vessels. . .5
Thus we learn that Yaroslav not only had the church adorned with gold and silver and precious icons but also had founded a library in it. In his eulogy on Grand Prince Volodymyr, Metropolitan Hilarion gives the following testimony of Prince Yaroslav's activities:
He (i.e. Yaroslav) accomplished what you (i.e. Volodymyr) left unaccomplished, as Solomon with David's endeavors. In his wisdom, he erected God's dwelling, a large and holy one, for the sanctification of your city, and enriched it with all kinds of adornments: silver, gold, gems and venerable vessels. Therefore this church became famous and admired in all neighboring lands for in the whole northern region, neither westward nor eastward, is there a shrine to equal it."6
The Church of St. Sophia in Kiev was the see of the metropolitans "of Kiev and all Ukraine‑Rus′." Here took place the ordination of the higher priestly hierarchy. It was here also that in 1051 the first metropolitan of Ukrainian nationality, Hilarion, performed divine service. Religious ceremonies connected with the accession of the Ukrainian grand princes to the throne were celebrated in the cathedral. And here, according to later tradition, Grand Prince Volodymyr Monomakh was said to have been crowned with the diadem and adorned with the shoulder cape (barma) of the Byzantine emperors.7 The chronicles contain direct p12 evidence of the ecclesiastical ritual performed in St. Sophia on the accession of a grand prince to the throne. "Vyacheslav Volodymyrovych entered Kiev, rode to St. Sophia and assumed the throne of his father and grandfather." In another passage we read: "Ryuryk (Rostyslavovych) entered St. Sophia and having made adoration to the Saviour and the Mother of God, assumed the throne of his grandfather with great glory and honor."8
The Church of St. Sophia also served as a burial place for the grand princes and metropolitans of Ukraine. The founder of the cathedral Grand Prince Yaroslav the Wise (d. 1054), his son Grand Prince Vsevolod (d. 1093), his grandsons, Grand Prince Volodymyr Monomakh (d. 1125) and Prince Rostyslav Vsevolodovych (d. 1154) are buried here. In the southern lateral nave rest the remains of the Kievan metropolitans from the period of the Grand Princes. In the same nave are the tombs of the metropolitans of the epoch of the Cossack hetmans and of later periods — Sylvester Kosov (1647‑1657), Raphael Zaborovs'ky (1731‑1747), Arsenius Mohylyans'ky (1758‑1770), Gabriel Kremenets'ky (1779‑1783), Samuel Myslavs'ky (1783‑1796), Hierotheus Malyts'ky (1796‑1799), and Serapion Oleksandrivs'ky (1802‑1824). Gedeon Chetvertyns'ky (1685‑1690) is buried near the St. Volodymyr altar and Metropolitan Eugene Bolkhovitinov (1822‑1837) in the Nave of the Presentation.
St. Sophia — the palladium of the Ukraine, was yearly visited by a vast multitude of pious pilgrims from all parts of the Ukraine and from foreign lands, who spread abroad the tale of its dazzling beauty and enormous riches.
St. Sophia Square for hundreds of years has been the scene of numerous lay and ecclesiastical festivals. In front of the cathedral the clergy and people of Kiev organized a solemn reception for Hetman Bohdan Khmelnyts'ky, who entered the capital after his victorious campaign of 1648. Also before the cathedral the independence of the Ukraine was declared by the Fourth Decree ("Universal") of the Ukrainian Central Rada on January 22, 1918. From the same place on January 22, 1919 the unification of all Ukrainian lands into one all‑embracing Ukrainian State was proclaimed.
The ancient Church of St. Sophia has not remained in its original form. As a result of frequent wars the church was repeatedly sacked and damaged, because the wealth of the Kievan State and the opulence of its churches attracted numerous invaders. In 1169 Kiev was plundered and razed by the Prince of Suzdal', Andrei Bogolyubski. The prince robbed its inhabitants, monasteries and churches, including St. Sophia, and carried away all precious objects, ecclesiastical vessels, icons, crosses, service books and even bells. In 1180 the church was damaged by fire. In p13 1203 Kiev suffered another pillaging attack under the siege of Prince Ryuryk Rostyslavovych. In the Laurentian Chronicle there is the following description of this event:
On the second of January, Kiev was taken by Ryuryk and the descendents of Oleg and by (the troops of) the whole Cuman land, and they did such evil in the Rus′ land as had not befallen Kiev from the time of its baptism . . . not only did they take and burn Podol'e (the lower city), but they also took the mountain (the upper city) [Hora], and they ransacked the metropolitan Church of St. Sophia and they did the same to the Tithe Church of the Holy Virgin and to all the monasteries, and they stripped some icons while others they took with them, along with venerable crosses and holy vessels and books and the vestments of the first princes of blessed memory which had been hung in holy churches in memory of them. (PSRL, 1, 2, 2nd ed., Leningrad 1926, p418).
In 1240 Kiev suffered its first Mongol invasion. Hordes of Khan Batu destroyed, among the buildings of the city, the Tithe Church and severely damaged St. Sophia whose exterior and interior richness impressed them greatly. Inside the church they sought treasures in the walls, in the vaults, in the tombs of the princes; and they carried away all that fell into their hands. After this invasion the Church of St. Sophia began to decay. So diminished was the population that for a long time no services were held there. Furthermore, there was a long vacancy on the metropolitan throne following the disappearance of Metropolitan John I after the Mongol invasion. Not until ten years after the sack of Kiev did Metropolitan Cyril III (1250‑1280) have the church restored. Again in 1375 more repairs on the church were made by Metropolitan Kyprian.
In 1416 Kiev was ruined and ransacked by the Khan of the Crimean Tartars, Edigai, and in 1482, by Khan Mengli-Girai. Having robbed St. Sophia, Mengli-Girai sent a golden chalice with paten to the Muscovite Prince Ivan III as a token of respectful friendship. In the same year, when it came to a final partition of the metropolitan see of Rus′ into the metropole of Moscow and that of Kiev and Lithuania, Grand Duke Withold of Lithuania decreed that "the Kievan Metropolitan should occupy the throne in St. Sophia." But the Metropolitan did not obey the duke's injunction for a long time and lived in the Lithuanian city of Novgorodok or in Vilna. One of the metropolitans, Macarius, decided to visit devastated Kiev and the Church of St. Sophia in 1497 but before reaching the city he was killed by the Tartars. Eighty years passed after this event before a metropolitan dared live permanently in Kiev, and the Church of St. Sophia remained in neglect. In a report submitted towards the end of the 16th century by a Kievan official to the Polish king it is written that "the church has become a den for wild beasts and weeds grow on its naked vaults."
During the rule of the 16th century Metropolitan Eliah Kucha (1577‑1578), Bohush Hul'kevych-Hlibovs'ky, the vicar of the church undertook some repairs. In the words of a contemporary document, he "helped and assisted considerably in the repairing of the great Church of St. Sophia, covering it with a roof and shingles, which he for out of his own p14 purse."9 Nevertheless, a new period of decay began. In 1595, only one year after Metropolitan Michael Rohoza had accepted union with the Catholic Church, the Galician nobles were calling the attention of the Kievan Metropolitan Onesyphor Divochka to the fact that the "Archepiscopal Church of Kiev (i.e. St. Sophia) has been given to some heretic."10 They also pointed out that, under the administration of this "heretic," the cathedral of Kiev lacked roofing, its ceiling and vaults were in need of repair, the building had settled and threatened to collapse — for which reasons services in the church had been discontinued.
The Catholic Bishop of Kiev, Wereszczynski, has left the following description of St. Sophia in 1595:
This priceless shrine was of elaborate construction, not only were its walls faced with stone resembling chalcedony but within, instead of paintings, it was adorned with holy images in multicolor, gold, enameled stones. So skillfully were these icons made that the saints represented upon them might appear to be alive. . . The church is crowned by twelve cupolas and over the middle, in lantern form, rises the thirteenth, the dome. Inside, this dome is embellished with exquisite mosaics of the four Evangelists and the other Apostles and admits sufficient light into almost all the church. Many are those who agree that in all Europe no church can be found which would outshine those of Constantinople and of Kiev by the richness of their adornment. . . Unfortunately at the present time this shrine has become a shelter for cattle, horses, dogs and swine and its rich adornments are washed away by rain trickling down through the holes in the roof. In some places its walls have begun to collapse. . . Half of the cause of all this lies with the negligence of the Kievan metropolitans and the indifference of the nobles of the Greek faith.11
Detailed as is this description it hardly attests to the Catholic bishop's objectivity, since it is difficult to place the blame for reducing the church to this state on the Ukrainian metropolitans.
In 1596, Heidenstein, secretary to the Polish King Sigismund III, described the church as follows:
The Church of St. Sophia is in such a deplorable state that services have been discontinued there. . . Even today one can distinguish traces of its past greatness and opulence. The whole shrine is covered with mosaics and frescoes after the model of Constantinopolitan and Venetian churches. It is second to none with respect to its structure and the skill of its workmanship. The narthex and the columns are of porphyry, marble and alabaster. Still this most beautiful edifice is in such a state of neglect that it lacks a roof and every day brings it nearer to complete ruin.12
The description of the St. Sophia Cathedral which we owe to another observer of the end of the 16th century is not devoid of interest:
p15 Among the ruins there towers the Church of St. Sophia, built long ago after a Greek model with a great expenditure of money and labor. Its floor is covered with mosaics, and gold and azure are still shining in its vaults and chapels. In the edifice itself the columns are of porphyry and alabaster.13
Between 1610 and 1633, the Church of St. Sophia was in the possession of the Uniates. But even before that time a certain Priest Philip gave a silver ark belonging to the church to the Archpriest (protopope) Ivan Ostrovets'ky who took the reliquary and "sold to various persons stones hewn from the pillars and steps."14 In 1605 the Church of St. Sophia was taken away from Priest Philip and again became the cathedral of the metropolitan and the church for all clergy and faithful of Kiev. However this did not last long for, as a contemporary document records, "in 1609 there were no services in St. Sophia and priests stopped coming with crosses to celebrate there."15
In 1621, the inhabitants of Kiev complained that a certain pan Sadkowski "stripped the Church of St. Sophia, took the lead away (i.e. pulled off the lead layer from the roofs of the cathedral) and deliberately covered the roof with slats so that the building's remaining parts might fall down as other walls had already done." The petitioners asked that the church at least be thatched "in order that it may not rot away."16
Athanasius Kal'nofoys'ky, a monk of the Kievan Pechers'ka Lavra Monastery describes the state of St. Sophia in a passage of his Teraturgima (1638): "on the 6th of September, 1625, when Thomas Zamoiski was voivode, the entrance of the cathedral was blocked by a piece of a wall which had fallen and by a heap of rubble. Fissures could be seen in many places in the walls."17
The Ukrainian clergy made every effort to reclaim their church from the Uniates, even approaching the Polish king on this matter. In 1632, King Wladyslaw finally granted that the church be returned to the Orthodox, but it was not until the next year that the Metropolitan of Kiev, Peter Mohyla, took over the cathedral from Joseph Velyamyn Ruts'ky, the vicar of the Uniate metropolitan. The church, however, "had no roof and lacked adornments within and without."18 It is probable therefore that the mosaic floor of the church was destroyed some time between 1497 and 1633. P. Lebedintsev places this loss in the years 1610‑1633.19 The L'viv (Lemberg) printer M. Sl'ozka informs us in his edition of a collection p16 of liturgical texts called The Flower Triodion (1642) that the Metropolitan P. Mohyla had ordered services in St. Sophia resumed and started restoration of the church. In order to rebuild the half-ruined and devastated cathedral, time and great sums were needed, but the metropolitan was not deterred by such difficulties. The expenses of the restoration were covered by contributions of the metropolitan and various patriotic donors. Mohyla covered the church with a new roof, filled the cracks in the walls and the domes, and added four small apses in the external galleries, which he provided with new altars. He buttressed the main altar apse; he restored the more important parts of the interior and the main altar table. With respect to this latter, only the marble slab of the original is preserved, the rest having been destroyed under the Soviet regime. The floor was covered by multicolored tile. The metropolitan also ordered a new iconostasis which, according to Paul of Aleppo, the archdeacon of Macarius, Patriarch of Antioch, "defied all description for the beauty and variation of its carvings and gilding." Moreover, Metropolitan Peter Mohyla provided the church with liturgical books, vessels, and other ecclesiastical objects. He died in 1647 before the completion of the restoration. A great deal of the work must have been left undone, for Paul of Aleppo, a member of Patriarch Macarius' party which visited Kiev in 1654 on its way to Moscow, describes St. Sophia in the following terms: "Unfortunately, one half of it, from the western nave, is in ruins. . . at present, on the right hand as you enter the western gate are two ruined and abandoned tabernacles."20
Two years before (1651), the army of the Hetman of the Duchy of Lithuania, Janusz Radziwill, had entered Kiev. The Dutch painter Abraham van Westervelt, who was among those in the hetman's retinue, made a series of drawings of contemporary Kiev among which are several of St. Sophia. The church, especially its exterior galleries, appears to be in utter ruin in Westervelt's sketches.
The restoration begun by Peter Mohyla was continued by Metropolitan S. Kosov between 1647 and 1657. He finished the rebuilding of two chapels. Under the rule of these two metropolitans the external appearance of the church differed but little from the original. The years between 1657 and 1685 are known as the period of "Ruin." During this time the Ukraine was torn by internal struggles which followed Hetman Bohdan Khmel'nytsky's death and the country's union with Muscovy. In this period the higher clergy seldom lived in Kiev and as a result the Church of St. Sophia stood neglected. In 1685 Prince Gedeon Sviatopolk-Chetvertyns'ky ascended the metropolitan throne. He allowed the Kievan metropole to become dependent upon the Patriarch of Moscow. In so doing he disregarded the stubborn resistance of the Ukrainian clergy and the faithful who wished to maintain the contemporary character of their own church. p17 Gedeon Chetvertyns'ky ordered the western part of the church to be cleared and the western wall restored. Probably at this time the central composition of the fresco depicting the family of Grand Prince Yaroslav was destroyed. The two chapels next to the western main portal which led to the St. George and St. John the Baptist naves were restored at this same time. The removal of the rubble from the St. George Chapel led to the discovery of the sarcophagus of Grand Prince Yaroslav. The sarcophagus was moved to the altar of St. Volodymyr nave in the northeastern part of the church where it stands today.
Under the rule of Metropolitan Barlaam Yasyns'ky (1690‑1707), a final restoration of the church was made possible by the liberality of Hetman Ivan Mazeppa. It was in the Mazeppa period, which saw the rise of so many buildings constructed in the so‑called Ukrainian Baroque style under the auspices of the Hetman and of the Cossack nobility, that the reconstruction of the Church of St. Sophia was completed. Except for the western part, we still see the church as it was restored in the Mazeppa period.
During the repair of the southern and northern lateral galleries a story topped with two cupolas was added over each and new naves and altars in these new additions were installed. The restoration made necessary certain changes in the roof. The ruined spires of the towers were covered by new cupolas. The southwestern cupola was completely dismantled and built anew over the baptistry so as to obtain a symmetry with the northwestern tower. Naves with the Ascension and Transfiguration altars were constructed under these towers. The exterior entrances to the towers were walled up and new openings cut from the interior of the church. The walls of the church were made flush with a cornice and adorned with baroque pediments; the western wall was outfitted with a beautiful baroque fronton (removed, along with some of the pediments, in 1887). All the cupolas, which were originally hemispherical, were given the pear-shaped baroque form characteristic of the Ukraine. The warped walls of the southern and northern lateral galleries were buttressed to support both the first story and the western exterior wall which were being erected above them. Two of the buttresses supporting the altar apses had been built as early as the time of Peter Mohyla, as may be ascertained from the sketches of Westervelt. The construction of the three-story brick bell tower belongs to the same period. The tower replaced a previous wooden one probably built under Mohyla. The successors of Metropolitan Barlaam Yasyns'ky introduced an ever-increasing number of oil paintings in the interior of the church, thus covering the original frescoes. In the thirties and forties of the 18th century, the Church of St. Sophia was enriched by Metropolitan Raphael Zaborovs'ky, who equalled Hetman Mazeppa in his love of the arts, and who restored and introduced necessary architectural changes in most of the churches of Kiev. Since the walls of the Mazeppa bell tower had begun to warp, Zaborovs'ky instructed the architect J. Schädel to rebuild its two upper stories. He had two large bells cast for the tower and enclosed the precinct of St. Sophia with a brick wall. In the interior, he had a new three-story p18 iconostasis built, with a royal gate of silver and gold, to replace that from time of Metropolitan Mohyla. Zaborovs'ky also adorned the church with silver chandeliers.
St. Sophia. A drawing of the eighteen-forties.
By "Her Majesty's Ukase," dated 1786, the Cathedral of St. Sophia was shorn of all its estates, the major part of its lands and its fishing tithe. The same ukase ordered discontinued the payment of a treasury subsidy to the cathedral. At the same time the monks were expelled from the cathedral monastery, and the church itself was renamed the Sophia Cathedral Church of Kiev (Kievo-Sofiiski Kafedral'ny Sobor).
Between 1742 and 1757 the Kievan Metropolitan Timothey Shcherbats'ky had the roofs of St. Sophia covered with tin and the bulbs of the cupolas gilded. In 1843 a piece of plaster unexpectedly fell down in the Theodosius altar next to the archpresbyter's sacristy, laying bare ancient frescoes. When the painter F. Solntsev, a member of the Academy of Arts, was notified of this disclosure, he expressed the opinion that the walls of the whole church might be covered with similar frescoes. A report on this important discovery was submitted to Emperor Nicholas I who "deigned direct the Holy Synod" to "find the means for the uncovering p19 and restoring of ancient frescoes on all the walls and pillars of the Cathedral." Following this directive, a special committee was appointed which consisted of Metropolitan Philaret, Governor-General D. Bibikov, Academician F. Solntsev and several architects.
St. Sophia's western façade before the alterations of the 19th century.
The year 1843 opened a rather gloomy period in the history of St. Sophia, ironically enough spoken of as a period "of complete restoration of its magnificence and order without and within." In reality, the main frescoes and part of the mosaics of the time of Grand Prince Yaroslav, which had withstood the impact of more than eight centuries, were painted over with oils.21 A certain Fogt, "master of housepainting," was entrusted with the removal of the plaster covering the frescoes. The restoration of uncovered frescoes began in the same year (1843). First, Peshekhonov was given the task and Academician Solntsev was to supervise the painter's work. Two years later Peshekhonov was dismissed for incompetence and his task taken over by an old monk of the Lavra Monastery, Irenarchus, whom the historian of Kiev, N. Sementovsky described as "a man completely unacquainted with the style of ancient icon painting."22 By 1862 p20 we find still another, a priest by the name of Joseph Zheltonozhsky, working at the restoration of the frescoes.
In this period almost all the frescoes of St. Sophia were thus "restored," the only exceptions being those of the Michael altar. Between 1843 and 1853 a total of 2,487 entire fresco compositions, individual figures and ornaments, were either re‑touched or painted over completely. It is true that Academician Solntsev cannot alone bear the responsibility for this "restoration." In the first place, he was not the only member of the committee and, in the second, he was too busy a man to be able to supervise the work or to convince other to employ the proper restoration methods known at that time.
Academician Solntsev made a very important contribution to the subsequent scholarly investigations of the church by his exact survey of the building. His reconstructions and detailed sketches of mosaic and fresco compositions later appeared in two luxurious atlases.23 A series of other works were carried out in the interior of the church. The dome, the vault of the main nave and the background between the figures of the saints were gilded. To open a view upon the altar mosaic, the upper story of the main iconostasis was removed and the remaining part gilded once more. In 1864 the floors of the church in all the naves, galleries and even the steps of the towers were covered with cast-iron plates patterned in relief. In the same period a new story was added to the bell tower and its cupola covered with copper and gilded.24 In 1882 an exonarthex was built on the site of the collapsed western part of the gallery between the baptistry and the northwestern tower. Under it a furnace room was installed at a considerable depth to provide heating for the cathedral. In the process of laying the channels, which ran deep under the floor, parts of the original flooring were completely destroyed.25
About this time the beautiful Baroque pediment of the western facade, dating from the end of the 17th and the beginning of the 18th century, was remodeled. Also the roof of the cathedral was changed from ridged to semi-circular, following the shape of the arches, vaults and cupolas, as it was in the time of Yaroslav the Wise. Thereafter, no important restoration activity was undertaken in St. Sophia for a long time except for routine repairs and clumsy attempts at fastening the mosaics to the walls where they had pulled away. They were reinforced simply by driving large nails into the walls.
p21 It was only after the beginning of the Ukrainian struggle for independence in 1917‑1919 with the creation of the independent Ukrainian State that a more thorough investigation of the Church of St. Sophia was made possible. From 1917 on, research was carried out by the Central Committee for the Preservation of Ancient Monuments and Art and, from 1918 on, by the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences. Detailed photographs were made of the interior and exterior of the church by N. Negel, S. Arshenevs'ky, M. Makarenko and Y. Krasyts'ky.
During the Russian attack on the Ukraine in January 1918, the Cathedral of St. Sophia was seriously damaged by the artillery fire of Muraviev's Bolshevik troops. The Russians ignored the fact that the Government of the Ukrainian Democratic Republic had declared Kiev an open city in order to preserve its architectural monuments and had departed the capital.26 Bolshevik artillery fire did not spare the most important ancient monuments of the capital which were hit by some 200 to 250 shells. The valuable collections of Ukrainian art, such as those of Professor V. Krychevs'ky and M. Tereshchenko, and the house of the President of the Ukrainian Democratic Republic, M. Hrushevs'ky, were destroyed. The Old City and the quarter of the Pechers'ke also suffered appreciable damage. Several dozen shells hit the area about the Golden Gate, the Tithe and St. Andrew Churches and the walls of the St. Michael Monastery. Some of them struck the refectory church of the St. Sophia Monastery, the St. Sophia bell tower and the cathedral itself. One of the shells hit the walls of the cathedral's old altar. Fortunately the mosaics were saved although they became loose and in places fell down. During the second Soviet attack of October 1918, a shell pierced the church's western wall above the gallery.27
In the first years of the Soviet regime, scholarly investigation of the Church of St. Sophia continued by the St. Sophia Commission under the Ukrainian Archeological Committee of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, the Department of Architecture of the Ukrainian Museum Horodok (formerly Kiev-Pechersk Monastery) and the Central Authority for Inspecting Art Monuments of the Country. The photographs of the cathedral made by I. Morhilevs'ky, D. Demuts'ky, M. Skrypnyk and I. Stalyns'ky belong to this period. Some of them have been used in the present work. As a result of the intense and well-planned activity of these institutions and through state subsidies and contributions of private individuals, the church was repaired and the western wall, which was hit by a shell in 1918, reinforced. Moreover, the 19th century oil paints were removed p22 from a part of the ancient frescoes; the mosaics were cleaned and reset and the frescoes which had been pulled loose were fixed. This work was supervised by the artist M. Boychuk in 1919. At the same time investigation of the original architecture of the church proceeded by taking soundings and by stripping a part of the walls of their plaster. The survey of the church was continued and small sections of the original floor were discovered. A number of articles and monographs on the church were then published by such authors as F. Shmit, M. Makarenko, I. Morhilevs'ky, O. Novyts'ky, M. Novyts'ka, F. Ernst, V. Lyaskorons'ky and others.
While this research work was going on, the Soviet authorities began to carry out propagandistic and anti-religious measures. Soviet tourist guides do not disguise the reason for this decision. For instance, in one of them we read, "For many years, the church was not only a center for the religious deception of the masses, but also a nest of counter-revolutionaries, where all the black forces of reaction were concentrated. . ." Two other passages inform us: "During the Great October Socialist Revolution the priests of the cathedral indulged in propaganda against the Communist Party and Soviet power, while proclaiming long life to the power of the Ukrainian bourgeoisie, the Central Rada." "In 1920 an autocephalous church was founded in the cathedral where Petlura's officers, in priestly disguise, conducted their base work which aimed at the separation of the Soviet Ukraine from Soviet Russia."28 In fear of this last type of activity the Party and the Soviet Government, acting "in the name of the working masses," transformed St. Sophia into a historical monument and named it the St. Sophia Museum in which was conducted research closely associated with the anti-religious program. After the official discontinuation of divine service in St. Sophia Cathedral, the clergy of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Church and its Metropolitans, Basyl Lypkivs'ky and Mykola Borets'ky, were either sent to forced labor or liquidated as "bearers of the opiate of religion." In a short time two metropolitans, thirty bishops, thousands of priests and tens of thousands of the faithful fell victim to the Government's oppressive measures.
Simultaneously, the Soviet Government began to confiscate the cathedral's most precious ecclesiastical objects. The treasures, allegedly set aside to satisfy the needs of the industrialization of the U. S. S. R., and for the relief of the famine-stricken population of the Volga region, were sold abroad, and gold and silver objects of high artistic value melted down into bars. The resistance offered by scholars and museum workers was to no avail and was followed by severe repressive measures. Some of the most prominent of the Ukrainian art historians such as Professors F. Ernst, D. Shcherbakivs'ky and M. Makarenko paid for the protest with their lives, while many others simply disappeared and were replaced p23 by Communist Party members. The remaining museum personnel no longer dared to defend the art treasures. As a consequence of this the valuable collection of the bishop's vestry, the so‑called skarbets', was lost. It contained such relics as the silver-plated cross of Metropolitan Macarius (16th century), the six‑armed cross of Metropolitan Joseph Tukal'sky, a panagia (an image worn around the neck by bishops) with a crucifixion and a head of St. John the Baptist, a panagia in the form of an eagle above which angels held a crown (18th century), a panagia of Gedeon Chetvertyns'ky set with amber, a panagia of R. Zaborovs'ky set with diamonds and rubies, and a panagia of Samuel Myslavs'ky (1784). One ivory panagia bore the inscription "In the year 1580 Gedeon (i.e. Balaban), Bishop of Lviv". Moreover, the vestry contained valuable gold-plated mitres, set with precious stones, and richly bound gospels dating from the 17th to the 19th centuries, etc. Among the precious vestments confiscated by the Government the following deserve special mention: the robe of Gedeon Chetvertyns'ky made from gold brocaded satin embroidered with pearls and diamonds and his amber-encrusted staff; two silver brocade sakkoi of Raphael Zaborovs'ky embroidered with diamonds; a brocade sakkos and an omophorion of the Metropolitan Joasaph Krokovs'ky; a Georgian omophorion dating from 1611 with scenes representing the twelve annual feast days embroidered in gold upon it; a sakkos made from a Venetian mantle which had covered an 18th century statue of the Madonna. Between 1935 and 1937 eight Baroque iconostases, all works of local Ukrainian artists of the 17th and 18th centuries, were dismantled. The most valuable of them was the iconostasis of the Altar of the Presentation (18th century), which had formed the middle story of the main iconostasis and was transported to this altar in 1888. Other destroyed iconostases were those of the St. Nicholas and St. Andrew altars, the valuable iconostasis of the Epiphany Altar on which the story of Christ's baptism was carved, that of the Transfiguration altar on which Mount Tabor and the Transfiguration were depicted and that of the Passion altar representing the Crucifixion. The Government ordered the gold leaf stripped from these monuments of Ukrainian Baroque wood carving and the carving themselves burned. The royal gate, weighing 114 kilograms and made of silver reliefs covered with gold, which was located in the main iconostasis, the work of the Kievan masters Volokh and Zavadovs'ky (1747), was taken away. Among the other objects removed from the cathedral were four silver candelabra of the 17th century, which hung from brackets in front of the icons of the main instai, and the silver vestments of the four main icons, the so‑called Namisny ikony. The silver coffin containing the relics of Metropolitan Macarius, which had stood in the St. Michael nave in front of the iconostasis, was also removed. Chandeliers from various parts of the church disappeared: one, which hung above the central part of the temple, a bronze work in the Ukrainian Baroque style of a prominent master which was donated by Metropolitan Raphael Zaborovs'ky in the thirties or forties of the 18th century. Two larger chandeliers were removed from before the altars of Joachim and Anna and that of the Three Pontiffs. p24 A third, donated by Metropolitan Timothey Shcherbats'ky and of the same workmanship as the vestments of the Namisny icons was taken from before the ambo. The altars were stripped of their gold-plated decorations, and silver candelabra, candlesticks, liturgical vessels and rich vestments, rugs, and icons were seized. Finally, the cathedral library containing a large number of rare editions was confiscated. The Ostroh Bible of 1581, the L'viv Acts of the Apostles and Epistles of 1574, about a thousand manuscripts, autographs of Metropolitan Peter Mohyla and Dmytro Rostovs'ky and many other old theological works, indicative of the religious scholarship of the 17th and 18th century, were among the choice pieces thus lost by the library. Only a part of the library's rare editions and an insignificant portion of the treasures of the bishop's vestry could be saved for the so‑called Ukrainian Museum Horodok, situated near the Kievan Lavra, and for the library of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences. Unfortunately, most of these remnants were plundered by the Germans during the occupation of 1941‑1943. The bells with baroque reliefs and inscriptions were removed from the St. Sophia bell tower: the "Raphael" bell cast by the celebrated Master Motoryn in 1733 and weighing about one and a half tons; the "Eagle" bell, weighing over a ton; and ten other bells of various weights.
But this short list in no measure covers the great number of objects of material and artistic value which the church possessed before the advent of the Soviet regime. Many exhibits of the so‑called St. Sophia Architectural and Historical Museum, such as the exhibits dating from the period of the Grand Prince belonging to the Section of Architecture and Painting, and many icons of the 17th and 18th century were stolen by the Germans in 1943.
Between 1920 and the forties, almost no restorations were made in St. Sophia except the repair of the western part of the arch, damaged by a Bolshevik shell in 1918, and routine repairs of the roof. In 1938‑1939 an exhibition of projects by the architectural units of the Ukrainian S. S. R. was arranged in the Nave of St. John the Theologian. In the process of the remodeling, the shape of the 17th century windows was changed, all the religious paintings were whitewashed, a new floor was laid, and — to cap it all — a monstrous gypsum statue of Stalin installed. When large exhibition frames with architectural models and parts of the statue of the "genius of mankind" were being carried up the narrow spiral staircase to the St. John nave, the 11th century frescoes of the northwestern tower were badly scratched. About the same time the Dormition nave was transformed into the museum office where all the wall paintings were covered with whitewash, among them the beautiful 18th century picture of the Holy Virgin's Dormition. A parquet floor was laid on a damp and badly insulated foundation so that it moulded and buckled in places and the damp rot also endangered other parts of the building. The Transfiguration and Ascension Chapels, in both towers, were converted into auxiliary museum offices, a photographic laboratory, and so forth. Here, changes were made in the ceiling, the walls were plastered over and all the 18th century Baroque iconostases were dismantled.
p25 In each of these remodeled rooms primitive stoves were installed from which the smoke escaped by stove-pipes leading through the windows. The premises of the bishop's library and vestry were used for the exhibition rooms of the architectural museum, which contained photographs and drawings of churches of the Grand Princely period and specimens of architectural details of 11th and 12th century Kievan churches dismantled by the Soviet authorities. In one of these rooms, which had direct entrance from the southwestern tower, a part of the mosaics and frescoes of the dismantled St. Michael (St. Demetrius) Monastery were exhibited. The mosaic figures of St. Demetrius of Thessalonica and some other frescoes were taken to the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow.
In spite of the difficulties, a considerable amount of research was carried on in these years. In addition to restoration of the frescoes, the fixing and cleaning of the mosaics, and the reconstruction of the original floor, in 1935‑1936 the bases of the octagonal columns were uncovered in the western wing of the crossing, as were the marble thresholds of the main (i.e. western), southern, and northern entrances. In the central part of the church the floor was stripped down to the original level and this led to the discovery of the true proportions of the interstices between the arches, piers and columns, and the remnants of the lower part of frescoes. Excavations were made in both towers and in the northeastern part of the St. Volodymyr nave. In the southern wing of the crossing of the plan, a slab of slate encrusted with smalt was discovered and fragments of a mosaic floor were found in the eastern part of the church. A room, probably a treasury (gazophylakion), was discovered under the southwestern tower. Up to that time it had been walled up and its existence unknown. On the walls and vaulted ceiling of this room a fresco ornament was found which was in an excellent state of preservation because, fortunately, it had not been painted over as had the other frescoes of St. Sophia. The northwestern tower yielded much new material. There, fragments p26 of mosaic floor and glazed slabs, small single fragments of smalt and the raw materials for its preparation, came to light.
In addition, an interesting seal belonging to an 11th century patriarch was found. This seal was made of tina1 and was about four centimeters in diameter. On one of its faces the Holy Virgin of Blachernae is represented, the other carries the Greek inscription:
ΡΟΜΗϹ ΚΑΙ ΟΙ
Patriarch's seal (lead)a2 of 11th century.
"Eustratius, by the Grace of God, Archbishop of Constantinople, the New Rome, Oecumenical Patriarch." M. Karger rightly believes that this seal belonged to the Patriarch Eustratius Garides, who ascended the throne in 1081, and that it found its way to Kiev in connection with the correspondence carried on between Eustatius and the Kievan Metropolitan John II (1077‑1089).29
In 1945 a deep ditch was dug across the precinct of St. Sophia by the authorities of public works. During this excavation walls of the Grand Princely period were disclosed near the northwestern corner of the cathedral. In 1946 archeological diggings were undertaken on this site and ruins of a large three-chambered brick kiln unearthed. During the same period a trial shaft was dug near the northern wall of the garage (the northeastern corner of the St. Sophia courtyard). Fragments of marble, slate, mosaics tesserae and frescoed plaster, shards of window glass, pieces of tin roofing and parts of a large carved slate slab, which probably belonged to one of the parapets of the galleries of the Sophia Cathedral, were uncovered in this shaft. All of these fragments must have been thrown there during one of the restorations, probably in the 17th or 18th century.30
By Decree No. 793 of the Council of the People's Commissars of the Soviet Union, dated April 18, 1945, the Council of the People's Commissars of the Ukrainian Soviet Republic was permitted to found the Academy of Architecture of the Ukrainian S. S. R., superseding the Ukrainian branch of the Academy of Architecture of the Soviet Union. The same decree enjoined the president of the latter academy (Comrade Vesnin) to p27 transfer to the Ukrainian Academy all the property and valuables of the Ukrainian branch of the All‑Union Academy which they had held as of April 1, 1945. The Museum and Architectural Monuments Division is the twelfth among the institutions of the academy. It includes the Museums of Architecture and Applied Arts and the St. Sophia Monument.31 From that time on, the Cathedral of St. Sophia has been under the immediate supervision of the Ukrainian Academy of Architecture with offices now located in the former Palace of the Metropolitan, which stands across the courtyard from the main portal of the cathedral.
General view of eastern façade of St. Sophia.
1 Povest' Vremennykh Let, p. ex., PSRL, I (2nd ed., Leningrad 1926), p150 f. The event, recorded under the year 1036, is described as follows (here and in subsequent quotations the translation by S. H. Cross, The Russian Primary Chronicle , has been used):
While Yaroslav was still at Novgorod, news came to him that the Pechenegs were besieging Kiev. He then collected a large army of Varangians and Slavs, returned to Kiev, and entered his city. The Pechenegs were innumerable. Yaroslav made a sally from the city and marshaled his forces, placing the Varangians in the centre, the men of Kiev on the right flank, and the men of Novgorod on the left. When they had taken position before the city, the Pechenegs advanced, and they met on the spot where the metropolitan Church of St. Sophia now stands. At that time, as a matter of fact, there were fields outside city. The combat was fierce, but toward evening Yaroslav with difficulty won the upper hand.
2 P. Lebedintsev, "O sv. Sofii kievskoi," Trudy 3‑go arkheologicheskogo S'ezda (Kiev, 1875); also as a separate reprint.
4 D. Aynalov, "K stroitel'noi deyatel'nosti knyazya Vladimira," Sbornik v pamyat' kn. Vladimira (Petrograd 1917); V. Zavitnevych, "K voprosu o vremeni sooruzheniya khrama sv. Sofii v Kieve," K 300-letnemu yubileyu (1615‑1915) Kievskoi Dukhovnoi Akademii; Sbornik statei, I (Kiev, 1917); N. Sychov, "Iskusstvo Kievskoi Rusi," Istoriya iskusstv vsekh vremen i narodov, (Leningrad 1929).
5 Povest' Vremennykh Let, p. ex., PSRL, I (2nd ed., 1926), p153. S. H. Cross, Russian Primary Chronicle, p226.
6 p. ex., A. I. Ponomarev, Pamyatniki drevne-russkoi tserkovno-uchitel'noi literatury, I (1894), p74.
7 P. Lebedintsev, "O sv. Sofii kievskoi. . .," p11.
8 Letopis' po Ipatskomu spisku (The Hypatian Chronicle), ed. of the Archeographic Commission (St. Petersburg, 1871), pp290 and 457 f. Cf. also, Sbornik materialov po istoricheskoi topografi Kieva i ego okrestnostei (Kiev 1874).
9 Akty zap. Rossii, III, no. 83; S. Golubev, "Materialy dlya istorii zapadno-russkoi tserkvi," Chteniya obshchestva Nestora letopistsa, V, (Kiev 1891), p197.
10 Akty zap. Rossii, III, no. 146.
11 Josef Wereszczynski, Bishop of Kiev, "Sposób osady nowego Kijowa. . ." in: Pisma Polityczne, ed. K. J. Turowski, Biblioteka Polska, fasc. CXXIV‑CXXVI, (Kraków, 1858), pp35‑57, esp. 36 f.
12 Sbornik materialov po istoricheskoi topografi Kieva, II (1874); P. Lebedintsev, "O sv. Sofii kievskoi. . . ." p14.
13 Severny arkhiv, (1822, no. 1); N. Zakrevski, Opisanie Kieva II, p782.
14 O. Levitski, "K istorii vodvoreniya v Kieve unii," Chteniya obshchestva Nestora letopistsa V (Kiev 1891), p142.
15 Trudy 3‑go arkheologicheskogo S'ezda v Kieve, I, p67, and III, p137.
16 S. Golubev, Kievski mitropolit Petr Mogila i ego Spodvizhniki, II (Kiev 1898), p415.
17 Teratourgima lubo cuda . . . Athanasiusza Kalnofoyskiego, (Kiev, 1638), p196. Cf., also, F. Ernst, "Kyyivs'ka arkhitektura XVII viku," Kyyiv ta yoho okolytsya v istoriyi i pamyatkakh, (Kiev, 1926), pp141‑145.
18 Akty Yugo-zapadnoi Rossii III, no. 18.
19 P. Lebedintsev, "O sv. Sofii kievskoi. . . ." p14 f.
20 For the most recent edition of the account of Paul of Aleppo, cf. "Voyage du Patriarche Macaire d'Antioche," texte arabe et traduction française par Basile Radu, Patrologia Orientalis, XXVI, fasc. 5, (Paris 1949). The English quotation has been taken from F. C. Belfour, The Travels of Macarius. . . I (1936), p225.
21 V. Chagovets, "Kievskaya Sofiya," Chteniya obshchestva Nestora letopistsa.
22 N. Sementovski, Kiev, ego svyatyni i drevnosti, (Kiev 1871), pp69‑103.
23 "Kievski Sofiiski Sobor," Drevnosti rossiiskago gosudarstva, I‑IV, ed. Russkoe Arkheologicheskoe obshchestvo (St. Petersburg 1871‑1887).
24 P. Lebedintsev, "Vozobnovlenie Kievo-Sofiiskago Sobora v 1845‑1853 gg.," Trudy Kievskoi Dukhovnoi Akademii, (Kiev 1878). Cf. also for comparison, idem, "O naruzhnosti Kievo-Sofiiskago Sobora v drevnem vide," Kievskie Eparkhial'nye Vedomosti, (Kiev 1862, no. 7).
25 M. Karger, Arkheologicheskie issledovaniya drevnego Kieva. Otchety i materialy (1938‑1947 gg.), (Kiev, Akad. Nauk. Ukr. S. S. R., 1951), p229.
26 From the proclamation of the Ukrainian Central Rada to the citizens of the Ukrainian Democratic Republic, dated March 11, 1918, in Kiev: "The Russian Government of the Bolshevik People's Commissars . . . staged an all‑out attack against Kiev and began to cover it with merciless artillery fire. . . In order to avoid the destruction of the capital of the Ukraine, the Central Rada and the Council of People's Ministers decided to leave Kiev."
27 F. Ernst, Khudozhestvennyya sokrovishcha Kieva, postradavshiya v 1918 godu, (Kiev, 1918), pp3‑8; G. Lukomski, Kiev, (Munich, 1923), p38.
28 Confidential instruction for St. Sophia guides, drawn up by the authorities of the State Architectural and Historical Monument "The Sophia Museum" and endorsed by the Art Administration of the Council of People's Commissars of the Ukrainian S. S. R. in 1939.
29 M. Karger, "K istorii Vizantiiskoi sfragistiki," Vizantiiski sbornik (-Leningrad 1945), pp260‑264.
30 M. Karger, Arkheologicheskie issledovaniya drevnego Kieva. . . (1951), pp246‑251.
31 Vistnyk Akademiyi Arkhitektury U. R. S. R., I (Kiev 1946).
a1 a2 Sic. In the text the seal is described as "tin"; in the caption to the photograph, as "lead". Although the Ukrainian text of this passage also describes it as "made of tin" (виготовлена з цини), the Ukrainian caption to the photograph probably gets it right, describing it as "Олів'яна": pewter, an alloy of tin with a lesser amount of lead, and sometimes traces of other metals. The melting point of pewter is much lower than that of lead, making it more practical to use in sealing the commoner important documents; many seals used on medieval documents, casually described as lead, are in fact pewter.
b So the word divisions and orthography in the printed text. The inscription, seen in the illustration on p25, is better transcribed as follows (word spaces and end-of‑line hyphenation added by me, as well as the correction of the transcription error in line 7):
ΕΛΕΩº ΘΥ ΑΡΧΙ-
ΡΩΜΗϹ ΚΑΙ ΟΙ-
Εὐστράτιος ἐλεημοσύνῃ Θεοῦ ἀρχιεπίσκοπος Κωνσταντινουπόλεως νέας Ῥώμης καὶ οἰκουμένικος πατριάρχης
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