Church of Preobrazheniya Gospodnya (the Transfiguration of the Lord) on Preobrazhenskaya Square

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Temple guards

In the 18th century, the Preobrazhenskaya (of the Transfiguration) Church was the main temple of the village of Preobrazhenskoye, the residence of Peter the Great, "the capital of Peter's reforms." The original church was built on the territory of the courtyard of the Preobrazhenskiy Regiment and actually served as a military temple of the first regiment of the Russian guard. This tradition was maintained and honored by the guards and the imperial court even at the end of the 19th century. The main throne of the Preobrazheniye (Transfiguration), which gave the temple the name, by which it became best known, was consecrated in 1750.

Probably, this can be considered the final stage in the construction of a wooden church in Preobrazhenskoye, the beginning of which was laid by sergeant of the Preobrazhenskiy Regiment Ivan Yeliseyevich Tretyakov. In 1747, Tretyakov bought the building of an old wooden church in the neighboring village of Semenovskoye and transferred it to Preobrazhenskoye; there, it was also consecrated in the name of Peter and Paul. The construction of a new stone church building, which survived until 1964, began in the 1760s. In May 1765, the parishioners chose a new place for the church, 4 fathoms away from the wooden one. In January 1766, the parish received a charter for the construction of a church, and in 1768, the new church was consecrated. Some historians believe that, by that time, only the refectory with the Peter and Paul chapel had been built, and the construction of the main bulk of the Transfiguration Church is attributed to 1781.

The temple icon of the Transfiguration of the Lord was donated to the Church of the Imperial Guards by the Preobrazhenskiy Regiment during its stay in Preobrazhenskoye on August 6, 1856, on the day of the regimental feast, which coincided with the patronal feast of the temple. On May 23, 1883, the temple was visited by Emperor Alexander the 3rd and Empress Maria Feodorovna, who arrived at Preobrazhenskoye for the celebrations on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the Preobrazhenskiy Regiment. It was in the Transfiguration Church that the solemn ceremony of consecrating the regimental guards’ banners took place. Preobrazhenskiy and Semyonovskiy regiments of the guard marched that day at the temple. In memory of this event, in 1884-1886, a second chapel was built in the temple in the name of St. Alexander Nevskiy. In 1886, the old Peter and Paul chapel in the refectory was rebuilt and re-consecrated. The Church of the Transfiguration was also renovated in 1896 and 1902.

Honored icons of the church, in addition to the temple, were the image of the Sign of the Mother of God, according to legend, donated to one of the previous churches of the Transfiguration by Peter the 1st; icon of Saints Peter and Paul; an ancient image of John the Baptist, as well as icons of St. Nikolay, Mother of God "Joy of All Who Sorrow" and the Trinity; in the 20th century, icons of the Mother of God “The Healer”, the Mother of God "Comfort and Consolation", and Kuzma and Demyan’s icons, transferred from other churches in Moscow, were added to them. On the site of the temple, surrounded by a fence with a gate, there were one-story stone and 3 wooden houses of the church clergy. The building of the Church of the Transfiguration, with slightly heavy-weight proportions, had a “ship” composition, traditional for Russian churches of the 18th-19th centuries (a temple, a refectory, and a bell tower on the same axis). The peculiarity of the temple was "half-domes", somewhat archaic for the time of its construction, which completed the curtains of the walls of the church quadrangle. The bell tower and the refectory were decorated in the classicism style.

The Church on Preobrazhenka - in the pre-revolutionary years, just one of the many churches in the outlying urban areas - became one of the notable centers of Orthodox Moscow in Soviet times, after the closure and destruction of dozens of ancient and famous churches of the Original Russian Capital. The service here never stopped, the temple took the sacred objects under its vaults from the surrounding churches, closed and destroyed.


At the beginning of the 20th century, the Transfiguration Church became the cathedral church of the Metropolitans of Moscow - Hieromartyr Vladimir (Bogoyavlenskiy), St. Makariy (Nevskiy), Yevseviy (Nikolskiy), Patriarchal Locum Tenens Sergiy (Stragorodskiy), Nikolay (Yarushevich). According to some information, priests for the whole of Moscow and the Moscow region were ordained here during these years.

It is known that in 1922, during the mass seizure of valuables from churches under the pretext of helping the starving, a meeting of church parishioners (about 250 people) decided not to hand over the valuables to the authorities.

During the Great Patriotic War, the temple was not only a place of spiritual consolation for local residents. According to the testimony of the Preobrazhenskiy old-timers, “we went to this church to sleep in the basement, we didn’t hear bombings there at night”; “we went to the courtyard of the temple for water.” The district’s residents also remember the rector of the Transfiguration Church of the 1930-50s, Father Vyacheslav Sollertinskiy, who had previously served in the nearby demolished Church of Vvedeniya (the Introduction) na Platochkakh ("on Handkerchiefs") in Zelyev Lane.

But the main thing that Muscovites still remember with tears in their eyes is the amazing atmosphere that reigned in the Church of the Transfiguration during the war, when Metropolitan Nikolay (Yarushevich) of Krutitsy and Kolomna, whose cathedral this church was in 1942-1960, read his famous sermons here.

Rector of the temples in Kosino, Father Mikhail Farkovets, who served in the Church of the Transfiguration under Yarushevich, said that "parishioners from all over Moscow went to listen to the sermons of Metropolitan Nikolay." In the early 1960s, the Church of the Transfiguration was one of the most prominent and revered churches in Moscow.

In the secret report of the Council for the Affairs of the Russian Orthodox Church under the Council of Ministers of the USSR "On the situation and activities of the church on the territory of Moscow and the Moscow region (for 1962)", the Church of the Transfiguration was noted as the "most actively" operating. It is also reported here that 993 baptisms were performed in it, funerals - 236, church weddings - 17.

The “Registration Form” (January 1960) from the special “Registration File” of the Church of the Transfiguration gives the following information: the temple is located at Preobrazhenskaya Square 11, has an area of 411,65 square meters; capacity - 1648 people; the last overhaul was carried out in 1957; the building is “in good condition”, it was not under state protection, it has 9 bells; Church services are held “daily from 8.00 until 11.00, all-night service - from 18.00"; "the number of visitors - on weekdays up to 100 people, on Sunday - a full temple."


At four o'clock in the morning on July 18, 1964, the inhabitants of Preobrazhenskaya Square and its environs were awakened by a terrible roar. Many knew that on that night the ancient Church of the Transfiguration, which supposedly interfered with the construction of the metro, was supposed to be blown up. As eyewitnesses recalled, who, despite the ban, did not move away from the windows of their houses, the temple seemed to rise above the ground and crumbled in the air.

In the late spring of 1964, the rumor about the demolition of the church swept across Moscow. People began to write letters in defense of the church, they were collecting signatures in support. They applied to the district executive committee, the district committee of the party, to the Moscow City Council. Shortly before the explosion, the secretary of the district committee of the party assured those gathered at the temple that they would not blow it up, that they could disperse.

The petitions of believers in defense of the Church of the Transfiguration, addressed to the first secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU, N.S. Khrushchev, among other things, collected, according to archival data, over 2,500 signatures. The believers, in a last desperate attempt to save their temple, surrounded it, and some even locked themselves in the temple, becoming its human shield (according to various estimates, there were from 50 to 125 people in the church itself, and up to a thousand near the temple). The parishioners stood at the temple for a week and did not allow the workers to approach. And when they parted, the same night the church was blown up. The explosion of the Transfiguration Church remained the only fact of the existing church destruction in Moscow in Khrushchev's, and even after Khrushchev's time. It was, as they say, "the last victim."


After the destruction of the temple, the Preobrazhenskiy parish did not cease to exist - its community retained the status of a registered religious organization. This "mercy" of the authorities, apparently, was the result of the appeal of Patriarch Alexiy the 1st to the Council for the Affairs of the Russian Orthodox Church. The mercy of the authorities, however, was deceptive. The believers were not provided with another closed church in Moscow for worship, but were forced to share a nearby functioning church - the Church of Vozneseniya Khristova (the Resurrection of Christ) in Sokolniki with another Orthodox community, where the holy objects and property of the Transfiguration Church were transferred.

The idea of the last decades to recreate the temple is closely connected with the name of the architect-restorer Igor Rusakomskiy. Igor Klimentiyevich was not just the author of the idea. For many years, he had been the soul of this enterprise, its main driving force. He was an agitator, negotiator, propagandist, leader - everything. Fortunately, he was not alone. In 1999, the community of the Transfiguration Church was registered. You can talk for a long time about the endless persuasion of officials, about getting approval from the metro authorities, on the support for the idea of restoring the temple by the late Patriarch Alexiy the 2nd, about supporting from the Moscow Heritage Committee and the Moscow Committee for Architecture. About putting the foundations of the temple under state protection as monuments of history and culture, about installing a memorial cross on the square, about organizing annual holidays here on August 19 - with prayers and military parades. About collecting the memories of parishioners, about searching for bits of information in the archives. It was many years of titanic work.


In 2008, Archpriest Vladimir Volgin, rector of the Church of Sophia the Wisdom of God in Sredniye Sadovniki, opposite the Kremlin, was appointed rector of the Preobrazhenskiy parish. And he convinced the district authorities not to oppose the historical truth. Once he came to Preobrazhenka, traveled around the district with the prefect, examined the “alternative” sites, talked, and was convincing. He convinced.

On July 17, 2009, the Moscow government issued an order to recreate the Church of the Transfiguration "with full identification and scientific authenticity of the restored architectural forms." Then there were archaeological excavations: the foundations of the temple appeared from under the ground, it was possible to go down to the basement, where nothing had changed since that very night on July 18, 1964; in the corner lay an iron barrel, which must have been overturned by the blast. Then the search for money and builders began; initially, they decided that the church would be restored not with budget money, but with charitable donations. Substantial assistance was then provided by Vice Mayor Vladimir Resin.

And then they finally started construction, which for a long time could not move beyond the laying of communications of the zero cycle. It was another titanic work.

The temple was restored not in its original form, but in the guise, in which the explosion found it: according to the measured drawings of 1883 and photographs of the 20th century. The temptation to embellish the old was avoided. “No matter what they say,” Igor Rusakomskiy emphasized, “that the ancient temple was not artistically perfect enough, not “decorative” enough, we will not go against history, we will recreate exactly the image of the temple that has become a sacred object for several generations of Orthodox believers.”

The restoration of the temple was led by the Board of Trustees of the Charitable Foundation "Church of the Transfiguration of the Lord on Preobrazhenskaya Square" (co-chairpersons - President of the Foundation for Social and Cultural Initiatives Svetlana Medvedeva and Deputy of the State Duma of Russia Vladimir Resin).

The reconstructed temple is raised on a small podium; in the basement, a precious artifact has been preserved and exhibited - the original white stone foundation of the Transfiguration Church of 1768.

At the final stage of the work, Mikhail Abramov, the founder of the Russian Icon Museum, took over all the funding. He donated significant funds for the restoration of the iconostasis of the main church and side chapels, painting, interior decoration, and the manufacture of bells. The appearance and decor of the temple are accurately reproduced, and placing the building on the podium will allow it not to get lost on the current Preobrazhenskaya Square, surrounded by new buildings.

Such an architectural solution also has a symbolic meaning - the podium resembles a pedestal: after all, the new temple is a kind of monument to the historical past. No one rebuilds the 18th century: the memory of the place is returning.

On May 8, 2015, on the eve of the celebration of the 70th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia performed the Great Consecration of the Church of the Transfiguration of the Lord and served Divine Liturgy in the newly consecrated church.

The central throne of the temple is consecrated in honor of the Transfiguration of the Lord; northern - in honor of the holy noble prince Alexander Nevskiy; the southern one - in honor of the holy apostles Peter and Paul, as well as two stylobate chapels in honor of St. Nikolay the Wonderworker and the Apostle Andrew the First-Called with a font for baptism of adults.

His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia addressed the participants of the solemn divine service with the primatial sermon:

“The revival of the Church of the Transfiguration, its great consecration on the eve of the 70th anniversary of our people’s victory in the Great Patriotic War is an event of a very large historical scale, of great symbolic significance. Suffice it to say that the Church of the Transfiguration was the last church destroyed during the years of hard times. And the temple on this site was active - it was used for its intended purpose, it was not abandoned, there was no warehouse or any other institutions.

There was a lively Orthodox community in the church, headed by Metropolitan Nikolay of Krutitsy and Kolomna, an outstanding church and public figure in post-revolutionary Russia.

During the most difficult years of the Great Patriotic War, thousands of people gathered here, for the services performed by Metropolitan Nikolay, who could not even enter this church - they stood around; it was an island of hope. How many tears had been shed here, what ardent prayers had been lifted up for the salvation of the Fatherland, for victory, for the lives of relatives and friends! And all this was trampled and destroyed without any significant visible reasons...

The revival of this temple became a matter of special importance, because historical justice had to triumph. We are building new churches today. But if this holy place remained a monument of the era of temples’ destruction, then our soul would be restless. And therefore, I sincerely thank everyone who initiated the process itself, made both the public and the authorities think about the need to build this temple. I also express my gratitude to those, who have worked especially hard. And now I would like to donate the miraculous image of Christ the Savior to the temple. Let Him remind those, who will serve and pray here, about today's wonderful event, which took place on the eve of the 70th anniversary of victory in the Great Patriotic War, about the restoration of the destroyed church, the church-monument to the preobrazhentsy-heroes, the church of the Russian army.”

Since then, the temple has been open, and divine services are performed daily:

on weekdays the Hours and Liturgy at 7.30 (Confession at 7.00), evening Divine Liturgy at 18.00;

on Sundays and holidays, the early Liturgy begins at 6:30, the late Liturgy at 9:00 (Confession at 8:30), on Saturday the All-Night Vigil at 18:00 (Confession at 17:00).

The temple lives an active parish life with a large number of children and youth.



Source: Храм Преображения Господня на Преображенской площади

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