Saint Basil the Blessed or Pokrovsky Cathedral was constructed between 1554 and 1560 on Red Square in Moscow. The church was built as a votive offering for Tsar Ivan the Terrible’s military victories over the independent Tatar khanates of Kazan and Astrakahn. The cathedral has been given many names over the years. It was originally dedicated to the protection and intercession of the Virgin but became known as the Cathedral of Vasily Blazhenny or St. Basil the Beatified after the Russian holy fool, Basil. Basil was born in 1468 to commoners. He was known for his prophetic powers and predicted the fire of 1547 which destroyed nearly a third of Moscow. Following his death, he was buried along with his relics in the church vaults during the reign of Tsar Fyodor I. The cathedral is made up of nine chapels that are built around the 156-foot high central nave. Four of them are raised to designate their position between heaven and earth. The cathedral are actually nine churches in one. In the beginning, the basement of the future cathedral served as the basis for nine small churches connected with galleries and passageways. In the 16th century, the basement was used as storage for church coffers and savings of the city’s wealthy residents. The original color of the cathedral was white with gold domes. Starting in the 17th century, the cathedral began to be painted in bright remarkable colors. Legends say that Russian architects, Posnik and Barma, designed the church while an Italian architect built it and then was blinded so he could never replicate its design. This beautiful cathedral has been in mortal danger multiple times. In 1812, French troops wanted to blow up the cathedral but did not have time before they were pushed out of Moscow. In the late 1920s, the Soviet authorities were not happy about having a house of worship in the center of the city and wanted to pull it down. They ordered that all the bronze bells be removed and melted down. Only one of the original bells remains today. Architect and restoration artist Pyotr Baranovsky is credited for saving the cathedral from being demolished. In 1923, the cathedral was converted into a museum of history and architecture. In 1929, it became a branch of the State Historical Museum. In the 1990s, the cathedral began to be used for religious services again and it was named a World Heritage Site as part of the Kremlin and Red Square.
From the exquisite Limoges Marquise de Pompadour Collection. From Limoges France.
2 1/4" W: 2 1/2" H: 3 3/4"