Cathedral of the Icon of the Mother of All Who Sorrow, Sviyazhsk

Cathedral of the Icon of the Mother of All Who Sorrow in Sviyazhsk, Russia is the dominant architectural feature not only at St. John the Baptist Monastery but on the entire island-city. This large, majestic structure, built in 1906 in a neo-Byzantine style punctured with eclectic elements, was one of three hundred churches built to coincide with the tercentenary of the Romanov family.

The imposing five-domed church covers an area of 28 by 38 meters and closely resembles Kronstadt Cathedral in St. Petersburg. It towers over Sviyazhsk at a height of 32 meters without the cross and is distinguished by its central hemispherical dome, under which sixteen windows form a circle. From the outside, the cathedral looks like a multi-tiered tower topped with large, gilded crosses. It has two side chapels, one of which is consecrated in honor of St. Anna and the other in honor of St. Seraphim of Sarov. Each of its three entrances is marked by beautiful arched openings.

The cathedral’s interior exudes an air of luxury. The sanctuary walls are painted in gentle pink-blue tones with scenes from the Bible, and a striking four-tiered iconostasis adorns the center of the hall. The dimensions and layout of the cathedral likewise allow for unique acoustics inside the sanctuary.

Funds for painting the cathedral walls were donated in 1914 by Moscow manufacturer Sergei Mechnikov, yet just a few years later, during the Soviet anti-religious campaign of the 1920s, its magnificent interior décor and murals were all destroyed. Miraculously, the cathedral building itself was kept relatively intact, and in 2014 the murals were also restored.

Although restoration work continues at Cathedral of the Icon of the Mother of All Who Sorrow in Sviyazhsk, regular services are now held in the sanctuary.