Monday, 28 November 2016

Small Church in the Winter Palace

The Small Church of the Presentation of the Lord (Candlemas) on the 2nd floor of the Winter Palace was restored after the fire by the architect V. Stasov in 1839.

On January 31st, 1839 Nicholas I wrote to his son Alexander “… The Small Church is quite finished. She’s beautiful, and I think, similar to the former …”

Painting (below) of the Small Church design 1839

The Small Church was consecrated on February 2nd, 1839.

Painting (below) of the Small Church in 1840 with the windows to the Large Courtyard and the door to the Rotunda

A little-known incident was the theft in October 1869 of silver items from the Small Church’s altar. The Minister of the Court and Chief Chamberlain decided to replace the items before the return of the Imperial Family; neither the thief nor the silver were ever found.

The importance of the Small Church in the religious life of the Imperial Family was paramount and they always attended the Mass held for its feast day on February 2nd.

Alexander III wrote in his diary on Tuesday, February 2nd, 1893 “… at 11PM we went to Mass in the Winter Palace’s Small Church and then went into the rooms of Papa and Mama …”

In Tsarskoe Selo, Nicholas II wrote on Sunday, February 2nd, 1897 “… I went to St. Petersburg at 10AM. On the occasion of the religious holiday of the Small Church in the Winter Palace, a Mass was celebrated there, and then a family lunch was served in the [White] dining room …”

Hau’s 1862 Watercolor (below) of the Small Church

A poignant entry in Empress Marie’s diary was on Thursday, February 15th, 1923 (NS) [February 2nd OS] where she wrote “… today is the holiday of the Winter Palace …’’ She remembered to the end. 

The gilded ornamentation survives in the Small Church today; the iconostasis and Neff’s paintings are lost. 

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