Don’t Judge a Church by Its Cover

This morning Alison, Sharon, Shelley, and I visited The Church of Our Savior on the Spilled Blood. The church is built on the site where Alexander II was assassinated, and yesterday’s guide told us it is the only Russian-style building in St. Petersburg. If you clicked on the link, you can see how elaborate the building is. (I can add pictures when back home, but my iPhone 4 can’t access the internet here.)

The interior is even more elaborate than the exterior. I don’t think there was an inch that was not covered by mosaics, carvings, or patterned marble. Artists including Vrubel who appeared in my Fading Memories post helped design the space. The contrast between it and the interior of Davidson College Presbyterian Church could not be more stark. When we were there the church was also filled wall-to-wall with tourists. Shelley heard a guide walking around say that the building which costs 250 rubles to enter (roughly $7-8) is a good money-maker for the city.

Tile Column Inside Church of Spilled Blood Arch Inside Church of Spilled Blood Floor Church Spilled Blood Inside Wall Church Spilled Blood

Later in the day Shelley and I went to Kazan Cathedral. If you clicked on the link you can see it looks more like a monument than a church.

Yet inside was an active Orthodox Church. There was a very long line of people who waited their turn to kiss an icon and after a number of people did so, a young woman wiped down the icon. Many people lit candles in front of different icons and a young woman mopped up wax and removed candles that burned down by at least half. Rather than colorful mosaics this church has lots of metal art work. Silver and gold covered icons. The reverence was palpable such that people whispered rather than talked and few tourists took photos.

If you have not yet looked at the pictures of the buildings, please do so. With the above in mind you will see why I walked away from visiting these wildly different churches thinking that you can’t judge a church by its cover.

One Comment on “Don’t Judge a Church by Its Cover

  1. And Kazan Cathedral, the active church you visited, housed the Museum of the History of Religion and Atheism during Soviet times!

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