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Stone churches have been preserved in the Pskov region, along with the Vladimir, Smolensk, and Novgorod regions, most of them are the oldest Orthodox temples. This year, 10 masterpieces of Pskov architectural art of building are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List 1. It is planned to allocate about 12 billion rubles for the restoration of cultural monuments of the Pskov region, including churches. About what work is planned to be carried out, what to do with ruined churches in extinct villages, and how to protect existing churches from fires, the correspondent of the Journal of the Moscow Patriarchy was told by the ancient keeper of the Pskov diocese, monk Antoniy (Voyevodin). PDF version.

"The ancient old"

Within the boundaries of the Pskov Metropolitanate, 325 churches were identified and registered as objects of cultural heritage (OCH) of the Russian Federation (see reference). Of these, 200 are located directly in the Pskovskaya diocese, the rest - in Velikolukskaya. Conventionally, they can be divided into four groups.

The first includes ancient temples and monasteries of the 12th-16th centuries. This is the "golden fund" of ancient Russian architecture, specific objects of particular significance, and the spiritual foundation on which Russian culture and the state were formed. It is they who primarily attract pilgrims and tourists to the Pskov land. These are, for example, the Troitskiy (Trinity) Cathedral of the Pskov Kremlin (a monument of regional significance), the Snetogorskiy and Mirozhskiy monasteries, the Rozhdestva Khristova Church (of the Nativity) in Malakh, the Pskovo-Pecherskiy and Svyatogorskiy monasteries (Alexander Pushkin is buried here) and others. These objects are among the first in the restoration program, for which the state allocated about 12 billion rubles from extra-budgetary funds. Some of these temples do not stand on their own, but are located in monasteries and, together with other monastic objects, are included in the complexes of monuments.

At first glance, the state of these temples does not cause concern. But if you carefully examine the foundations, walls, roofs, it becomes obvious that the monuments require a comprehensive restoration. For example, in the area where the Uspenskiy (Assumption) Pskovo-Pecherskiy Monastery is located, the soil consists of limestone and flagstone. The impact of groundwater creates a threat of destruction of 22 cultural heritage sites that are located on the territory of the monastery. In order to prevent the destruction of these monuments, works began last year to strengthen the emergency slopes above the caves.

The Transfiguration Cathedral of the Mirozhskiy Monastery is regularly threatened by flooding. It happens that during heavy floods, the water in the Velikaya River rises 1.5 m above the level of the floor of the cathedral. Excessive humidity destroys both the temple itself and the frescoes of the 12th century.

The Snetogorskiy Monastery is located on the banks of the Velikaya river bend. The coast, consisting of calcareous rocks, crumbles, and one of the monastery towers literally hung over the river. The same can happen with other buildings of the monastery. The Cathedral of the Nativity of the Virgin, which has frescoes from the 14th century and is classified as a World Heritage Site, was also under threat.

All restoration work in the Pskov region is carried out by local authorities, the Pskov Metropolis, and the autonomous non-profit organization Revival of Cultural Heritage Sites of Pskov and the Pskov Region (hereinafter referred to as ANO “Vozrozhdeniye”). It plans to carry out priority emergency response work (in terms of its scope, this is a whole program), including the conservation and strengthening of walls and foundations, to make an erosion pavement around the perimeter of the facility, repair the roof, and also put in order internal and external engineering networks (electricity, heating, and plumbing) and restore monumental paintings.

These works consist of three stages and are designed for 5–10 years. They include, in particular, the restoration of 16 complexes of monuments (approximately 90 objects, see reference). The first stage has already been completed: a tender was held among the designers for the preparation of design documentation for restoration work. The second stage is planned to draw up projects, the third - to carry out repair and restoration work.

Depending on the state of the object, design work on its restoration can be carried out from three months to one and a half years.

The actually completely ruined Church of the Vozneseniya Gospodnya (Ascension of the Lord) with a bell tower, located in the Snetogorskiy Monastery, falls under this program of the ANO “Vozrozhdeniye”. In 1936-1938, it was blown up. What remains today barely exceeds the foundation. The Committee for the Protection of Cultural Heritage Sites of the Pskov Region, with the participation of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, plans to conserve these ruins, and above them to recreate both the bell tower and the temple. The bell tower was a historically significant sightseeing object - the same as the Trinity Cathedral of the Pskov Kremlin.

Emergency fund

The second group includes emergency and extremely emergency churches (these are not ruins yet, but it is not safe to serve there), located in villages, where people constantly live. They are in demand among local residents; parishes have formed in some of the temples. The dioceses assigned priests to these churches, who regularly hold prayers there. Some parishes have already been legally registered - only in this case churches can be included in the program of the ANO "Vozrozhdeniye", and somewhere this work is still ongoing.

A typical example is the church in honor of the Vsemilostivogo Spasa (All-Merciful Savior) in the village of Volyshovo, on the estate of the Stroganovs 3. All paperwork has already been completed. So far, the temple is in disrepair, but the Pskovo-Pecherskiy Monastery took care of it and included it in the lists of the ANO "Vozrozhdeniye" program, where it is among the first ones. The design documentation is currently being prepared.

When restoration work is in a hurry, important points often fall out of sight, and the estimate increases several times. For example, in a hurry, they may not take into account that the soil near the temple, due to limestone and groundwater, “creeps” to a depth of 5 m. In this case, the foundation must be strengthened already 10 m deep, otherwise the whole structure will turn again into ruins in a year or two.

The third group is temples that have suffered for various reasons and urgently require repairs. The most common cause is a fire that occurs when fire safety rules are violated.

For example, the church of the Archangel Michael, built in the 19th century in the village of Melnitsy, suffered from fire. If the burnt roof is not repaired, the ruins will be left from the temple in five years. The parish has begun raising funds for restoration, project documentation is being prepared. The “Bring Life to the Temple” program on the Spas TV channel made a significant contribution to fundraising.

The fire in the Melnitsy occurred by an absurd accident - from a stove spark that got through the chimney to the roof (we have all churches with stove heating). After all, only the walls are stone, but the roofs, drums, the crate on the roof are made of wood. According to the requirements of GOST, the distance from the stone to the wooden surface should be at least 40 cm. Unfortunately, such rules are often violated, so the diocesan ancient keeper periodically visits the priests serving in such churches and instructs them. Everyone has the contacts of the ancient keeper; you can always contact him on issues of fire safety and operation of the temple. In the near future, the Pskov diocese plans to publish a visual aid with explanations of how electrical wiring or a stove is arranged, and what safety measures must be observed.

And finally, the fourth group, the most difficult. These are ruined temples, mainly of the 17th - early 20th centuries in extinct settlements. In the Pskov diocese they are about 10% of the total. For example, the temples of Preobrazheniya Gospodnya (the Transfiguration of the Savior) in the village of Sloboda, Ilyi Proroka (Ilya the Prophet) in the village of Konechek (both of the 16th century). Some temples even have walls and vaults, although there are quite a few remnants of the foundation that you will not find without preliminary work in the archives. Fortunately, the diocese is assisted in this by history enthusiasts who from time to time identify the remains of these temples, take pictures, and then post photos and coordinates of the temple on social networks.

Object without historical significance

What can be done to help these temples today? In the village of Posolodino stands the Church of the Vkhoda Gospodnya vo Ierusalim (Entry of the Lord into Jerusalem) - one of the largest in the Pskov region. It was consecrated in 1901. From the three villages whose inhabitants built this temple, four houses remain today; there is no parish near the temple. This is a unique architectural monument of regional significance. But who will serve and pray in it, if it is restored? In the future, it should enter the ANO “Vozrozhdeniye” program in the second or third stage. Only conservation can save such temples for future generations - this is less expensive. Volunteers are needed here. For example, last year, the Pskov diocese already attracted them to the program "Volunteers of Culture" (see reference).

In addition, it is very difficult to start restoration work if the form of ownership of the temple is not determined. There are about 20 ownerless churches in the Pskov diocese. The municipality and the Pskov Museum 4 are reluctant to take them on their balance sheet. In their opinion, it will not be easy to attract tourists there even after restoration.

Of course, the diocese could take care of them. While the search for resources for conservation is underway, the staff of the diocese managed to take measurements and compile a register of such churches. It gives hope that there are not indifferent people, who gather to pray in ruined temples. They put up a cross in the place of the altar and serve an akathist to the saint, in whose honor the temple was built, and on major holidays they even invite the priest to celebrate the Liturgy there. There are about 20 such places in the diocese.

Metropolitan Tikhon of Pskov and Porkhov also supports such initiatives. For example, this year Vladyka served two Divine Liturgies — on Trinity and on the feast of the Cathedral of the Pskov Saints — on the ruins of the Dovmontov town 5, which is located within the boundaries of the Pskov Kremlin. There was a time, when about a dozen temples stood in this place in a small space, now only the foundation remains of them.

Service at this place has not been performed for 350 years. During the Northern War, Pskov was in the war zone, and Peter the 1st turned these temples into fortifications. In the 1950s and 1960s, Pskov was recovering from destruction, and a group of archaeologists from the Hermitage worked in Dovmontovo. Scientists have found rare frescoes with original Pskov painting from these temples. The frescoes are very well preserved and are today in the Hermitage vaults.


1 Temples of the Pskov region included in the UNESCO World Heritage List:

∎ Cathedral of the Holy Prophet John the Baptist;

∎ Spaso-Mirozhskiy Monastery Ensemble: The Transfiguration Cathedral;

∎ Snetogorsk Monastery Ensemble: Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary;

∎ Church of Michael the Archangel with a bell tower;

∎ Church of the Intercession from Prolom;

∎ Church of Kuzma and Demyan from Primostye;

∎ Church of Georgiy from Vzvoz;

∎ Church of the Epiphany with a belfry;

∎ Church of St. Nikolay from Usokhi;

∎ Basil's Church on Gorka.

2 From the presentation of L.A. Gromova, assistant to the antiquities keeper of the Pskov diocese, at the 28th Christmas Readings

3 The estate belonged to Count Alexander Sergeyevich Stroganov (1818-1864) - aide-de-camp to the tsar, real state councilor, collector, one of the founders of the St. Petersburg Archaeological Society of Russian History and Antiquities.

4 State budgetary institution of culture "Pskov State United Historical, Architectural, and Art Museum-Reserve".

5 Dovmontov town - a stone building of the 13th century, made for additional protection of the city suburb of Pskov. The name is given by the name of the Pskov prince Dovmont (in baptism Timofey). In the 15th-16th centuries, there were 17 temples on the territory of Dovmontov town. Many of them lost their significance and were demolished at the turn of the 16th-17th centuries.


In 1917, there were 554 churches, 969 chapels, 5 men's and 5 women's monasteries, 3 women's communities in the Pskov diocese.

On the territory of the Pskov region there are 325 cultural heritage objects (monuments of history and culture) of the Russian Federation of religious purpose, included in the Unified State Register. 105 objects are in federal ownership, 33 are property of the Pskov region, 19 are municipal property, 5 are property of local religious organizations, and 163 have no owner. Of these objects, 50 rural churches are in ruins or in disrepair. 60 religious facilities were handed over - and almost all of them are in disrepair. Only 7 objects were restored under federal target programs. Rectors restored 53 objects at the expense of philanthropists and parishioners 2.

List of cultural heritage sites included in the program of ANO "Vozrozhdeniye": Trinity Cathedral of the Pskov Kremlin, Spaso-Preobrazhenskiy Mirozhskiy Monastery, Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Snetogorskiy Monastery, Hodegetria Church, representation church of the Pskovo-Pecherskiy Monastery, Assumption Svyatogorskiy Monastery in Pushkinskiye Gory, Church of the Nativity in Malakh, Holy Assumption Pskovo-Pecherskiy Monastery, Stroganovs' estate in Volyshovo, Zalit Island, Talabskiye Islands. For more details, see “Supplementary Agreement to the Contract on the Provision of a Subsidy from the Federal Budget to the Autonomous Non-Profit Organization “Revival of Cultural Heritage Sites in the City of Pskov (Pskov region)” for carrying out work to preserve cultural heritage sites of the Pskov Region” dated July 24, 2020 No. 054-10-2020-008/1.

The pilot project "Volunteers of Culture" is being implemented upon the blessing of Metropolitan Tikhon of Pskov and Porkhov, with the support of the Pskov Diocese and the Governor of the Pskov region Mikhail Vedernikov. The project is planned to last six years. In 2019, about 1,600 volunteers from 49 regions of the country took part in it. Young people worked in the historical part of Pechory, Izborsk fortress, Snetogorskiy and Yelizarovskiy monasteries. In the Dormition Pskovo-Pecherskiy Monastery, the young folks weeded the flower beds, leveled the soil, cleaned the metal fence of old paint, cleared the walls of moss, landscaped and beautified the territory of the monastery. In 2020, the planned work did not take place.

Information about the author

Monk Antoniy (Voyevodin), resident of the Pskovo-Pecherskiy Monastery. Born in 1984 in Uvarovo, Tambov Region. In 2019, he graduated from Pskov State University, Faculty of History. In 2018, he took monastic vows at the Pskovo-Pecherskiy Monastery. In 2020, he was appointed to the post of diocesan antiquities keeper of the Pskov diocese.

monk Antoniy (Voyevodin)

December 16, 2020, 2:17 pm

Source: Церковный вестник

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