St. Catherine's Church

Saint Petersburg, Russia

The Catholic Church of St. Catherine is one of the oldest Catholic churches in Russia. On December 12, 1705 Peter the Great signed a charter that would allow the construction of Catholic churches in Russia. The church itself (though not the building with which it is today associated) was founded in 1710.

In 1738 Empress Anna granted permission for the church to erect a structure on Nevsky Prospekt, the main street of St. Petersburg. The project, however, met continued problems. The initial designs were based on work by Domenico Trezzini, the architect who designed the Peter and Paul Cathedral and was then deceased. His designs, however, were abandoned in 1751. In the 1760s, the French architect Jean-Baptiste Vallin de la Mothe drew designs for the church, but he returned to France in 1775 and it fell to the Italian architect Antonio Rinaldi to complete the church. On October 7, 1783, the church was completed. Because the Empress at the time was Catherine II of Russia (also known as Catherine the Great), the church was named after St. Catherine of Alexandria.

St. Catherine's is connected with many important personalities of Imperial Russia. In 1798, Stanisław August Poniatowski, the last king of Poland was buried at the church (in 1938, after 140 years in the crypt, he was returned to Poland), as was, in 1813, the French general Jean Victor Marie Moreau. One parishioner of the church was Auguste de Montferrand, who would go on to build the Saint Isaac's Cathedral. Auguste de Montferrand married in the church and later had a wake here before his wife took his coffin back to France. Even in Imperial Russia, several well-known aristocrats had accepted Catholicism.

The church was run by different monastic orders in its history. Originally run by Franciscans in 1800 Emperor Paul I turned the church over to the Jesuits. In 1815, the church was run by Dominicans, and finally in 1892, the church ceased to be governed by an order and fell under the auspices of Diocesan priests, though a Dominican community remained at the church. On the eve of the

Under the Soviets, the activities of the church were repressed. The rector of St. Catherine's Church, Monsignor Konstantin Budkevich, was shot in the Lubyanka Prison on Easter Sunday, 1923. The church, however, remained open until 1938. In 1938 the church was closed and ransacked. Artifacts, icons and books from the church's splendid library were thrown out to the street. The church was further damaged by a fire in 1947, that destroyed the internal decorations of the church and its organ.

For 30 years, the building was used only as storage space for the nearby 'Museum of History of Religion and of Atheism' located in former Our Lady of Kazan Church. In late 1970s plans were made to rebuild the church as an organ hall for the Saint Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra. These plans were never completed, however, as the building was again ravaged by fire in 1984. Instead the government used the building as offices and apartments.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Catholic Church in Russia began to operate once more in the early 1990s. The first stage of restoration was finished by October 1992, with a temporary altar in place for worship. In October 1998 a Chapel of the Annunciation was opened. The main altar was completed and blessed in 2000. The restoration of most of the church was completed in 2003, and the central gates were opened.Restoration of the interior of the church is ongoing.

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Founded: 1783
Category: Religious sites in Russia

More Information

en.wikipedia.org

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User Reviews

BradJill Travels (3 years ago)
The Catholic Church of St Catherine is located on Nevsky Prospekt. Constructed between 1738-83, this is the oldest Catholic church in the Russian Federation. Historically, the church was closed in 1938, damaged by fire in 1947 and then again in 1984. Finally, after the fall of the Soviet Union, the Catholic Church of St Catherine was rebuilt and reopened in the early 1990s. There is a billboard inside the church with photos and a historical timeline if you want to learn more about the history of the church. Architecturally, you find a simple but attractive facade with portal and columns lining the entrance. The ceiling dome is quite visible as well from street level. The interior is based on a latin cross layout, the walls are soft colours, lined with marble columns. There is a nice fresco above the alter. Otherwise, a rather simple but nice visual affair inside the church. In the end, you can make a quick visit to Catholic Church of St Catherine and spend 10-15 minutes here while you are browsing and visiting other attractions along Nevsky Prospekt.
Bertrand Carneiro (3 years ago)
This is a nicely maintained Roman Catholic cathedral. Sunday 9.30am mass was in English. cathedral is centrally located in Nevsky prospect and is right by the side of the road.
Chirine Ballan (3 years ago)
Romanov family resting place in St Catherine Chapel St Petersburg, Russia Utterly breathtaking interior, extremely moving given the nature of the family's death. May the nation never ever forget what they did to them. RIP Most definitely a place to visit.
Patrick Amaechi (3 years ago)
The church is so beautiful, it's interior is well finished with good architectural design
Rose Piccinino (3 years ago)
I have attended this year's Easter Vigil, which was very well-organised. Even though this normally takes a long time, I really enjoyed this mass. The music and the community feeling were amazing. I followed the readings on my mobile in Maltese (my language) but otherwise felt part of this community. Thank you for making me and a lot of other visitors most welcome!
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