Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Easter (Пасха) in the Cathedral of the Winter Palace

The celebration of Easter (Пасха), the holiest day in the Russian Orthodox calendar, was held in the Cathedral of the Winter Palace. Although officially known as the Cathedral of the Holy Savior, the Imperial family and court documents referred to it as the Great Church.

On Easter Sunday March 25th, 1839 the spiritual head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow, in the presence of the Nicholas I and the Imperial Family and Court, blessed the rebuilt Cathedral after the fire in December 1837.

On Palm Sunday 1865 in St. Petersburg, Alexander II sent a courier to Nice with Easter gifts for his wife Empress Marie.  Early Easter Sunday morning, he attended Mass in the Cathedral with three of his sons and then broke their fast in the Gold Room. Alexander wrote in his dairy “ ... returned to my study tired from triple kissing 416 persons and felt dizzy...”.

On Easter Sunday, April 17th, 1894 in the early morning hour as Alexander III and Empress Marie were starting the procession from the Malachite Hall to the Cathedral, there was a power outage throughout the Winter Palace. The Imperial family continued to proceed through the halls by the light of kerosene lamps and candles, hurriedly found by servants. After some time, they were able to restore power to a few rooms. Some have since written that it was a bad omen yet, prior to the installation in 1888 of electricity in the Winter Palace, the rooms were lit with lamps and candles!

On Holy Saturday, April 4th, 1898 Nicholas II wrote that he “… went through porcelain eggs … I worked by myself [in my study] until 11:15 PM. Before the 3rd cannon shot the procession had begun …” and continued the next day, Easter Sunday morning, “… I triple-kissed 280 people in church. The Mass continued until 2:30 AM. We broke our fasting according to tradition in the Malachite room … We were up at 9:45 AM …”

Photographs (below) of the Hermitage's recent exquisite restoration of the Cathedral in the Winter Palace


  1. Beautiful photos!! Thanks

  2. Oh so beautiful and exquisite, great post!
    Happy Easter Joanna :)
    Ghostie x.