Monday, March 21, 2016

Helsinki - Uspenski Cathedral

Date of visit: 20th October 2015

I've snapped quite a number of panorama photo of Uspenski Cathedral from a distance. The one that I like most was when snapped it from the nearby garden. The cathedral is located on a hilly side that is noticeable even from a far distance. The picture view looks even more stunning when it was added with a beautiful landscape. See some of it in below photos.

Uspenskin katedraali is how the Finnish pronounce it, is an Eastern Orthodox cathedral in Helsinki, Finland. It was built in dedication to the Dormition of the Theotokos or the Virgin Mary. Its name comes from the Old Church Slavonic word "uspenie", which denotes the Dormition. The cathedral was designed by the Russian architect Aleksey Gornostayev but it was only built after his death in 1862. It was completed in 1868, took only 4 years to complete this magnificent piece structure suited its maiden name, Virgin Mary.

The crypt chapel of the cathedral is named after the holy Alexander Hotovitzky, who served as vicar of the Orthodox parish of Helsinki between 1914 till 1917. I wish to share below photo from that the blog owner snapped from the inside the cathedral. Saint Alexander Hotovitzky was a Ukrainian who came to the United States in the 1890s as a lay missionary and was ordained to the priesthood while he was there. He was to become vicar of the congregation of the Russian Embassy in Berlin. Because of the outbreak of the First World War he was instead made vicar of the Orthodox congregation in Helsinki, which was part of an imperial Russia. In 1917 he was assigned to Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow. After the Bolshevik coup he was subjected to many cruelties by the revolutionaries as he defended the Orthodox faith, his people, and church property. He was executed during the Great Purge on August 19, 1937, died as hieromartyr.

The Cathedral is set upon a hillside on the Katajanokka peninsula overlooking the city. On the back of the cathedral, there is a plaque commemorating Russian Emperor Alexander II, who was the sovereign of the Grand Duchy of Finland during the cathedral's construction. Main cathedral of the Finnish Orthodox Church in the diocese of Helsinki, Uspenski Cathedral is claimed to be the largest Orthodox Church in Western Europe.

Admission to the Cathedral is free of charge. In winter, the Cathedral is closed on Mondays and that was the reason why we could not enter on the day that we arrived. 20th October 2015 was Monday. So guys, do take note, not to attempt visit on Mondays during winter. I was reluctant to leave the cathedral compound, wishing and praying for a  miracle that someone would open that huge entrance door for me. It felt that a visit without exploring the beautiful prayer hall inside seems to be an incomplete mission. 

The cathedral has quite a number of valuable icons and a few has been stolen. Among others are St. Nicolas The Wonder Maker, which was stolen on 16 August 2007 between midday and 1 p.m. in broad daylight while hundreds of tourists were visiting the cathedral. The icon is from the 19th century and is of a rare item. It was originally given to the Orthodox Cathedral of Vyborg, from where it was moved to Helsinki during the Second World War. No further details of its origin are known. 

The icon, being 45 by 35 centimetres (18 in × 14 in), was placed in a kiota (a glass covered protection frame) and weighs a couple of kilograms. It was on display on a lectern. The icon is now being searched for in Finland as well as abroad. Another icon, Theotokos of Kozeltshan was stolen in June 2010, but recovered in February 2011.

Source of info: Wikipedia
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