The Church of St Catherine of Alexandria offers a reflection of the past 400 years of Russian history.
On December 12, 1705, Peter the Great signed a proclamation allowing Catholic churches to be built in Russia. In 1710, Catholicism was founded and in 1738, Peter's daughter, Empress Anna granted construction for the first house of worship on Nevsky Prospekt, now known as the oldest Catholic church in Russia.
Initial architectural designs were drawn by Domenico Trezzini but abandoned following his demise in 1751. French architect Jean-Baptiste Vallin de la Mothe produced new designs but ultimately returned to France, leaving the project to Italian architect Antonio Rinaldi. On October 7, 1783, during the rule of Empress Catherine II, the church was completed and named The Catholic Church of St Catherine of Alexandria.
In the century that followed, the church was first managed by the monastic Franciscans. In 1800, Emperor Paul transferred it to the Jesuits, until 1815, when it was run by Dominicans. In 1892, it was put under the auspices of the Diocesan priests, though the congregation was still largely Dominican. At the time of the Russian Revolution of 1917, it was home to more than 30,000 parishioners.
After the collapse of Soviet Russia, it was returned to the Catholic Church, restoration began and in 2000, the alter of The Catholic Church of St. Catherine was once again consecrated.
Interested to visit the Church of St Catherine of Alexandria? If so, click on the links below or scroll down the page to learn more.
The Catholic Church of St Catherine of Alexandria is an understated beauty with nice modern interiors made of columns, pastel colors, stained glass windows and lovely alter.
Described as a pleasant, but simple church by most; others find its
tortured history a poignant reminder of a nation's strength of faith and
the importance of religious freedom in the face of a government that
seeks to abolish it. In fact, you should know that significant evidence of the destruction under communist rule remains, including only the fragment of a destroyed altar and a smashed tomb.
The history, location, and architecture of this austere minor Basilic make it really worth a visit if you are walking on the main avenue Nevsky. And, if you are into going to mass, then you should be happy to find out that the church also serves different masses in different languages.
It is interesting to know that inscribed above the main entrance of the church is the completion date and a quote from the Gospel of Matthew 21:13, in Latin: “My house shall be called the house of prayer.”
Under Soviet rule, worship was repressed and in 1923, the rector of The Catholic Church of St. Catherine was shot in the Lubyanka Prison on Easter Sunday.
The church remained open until 1938, when Soviets ravaged the interior, stealing and destroying artifacts and icons, and throwing books from the church's vast library out into the street. A fire in 1947 caused further damage and destroyed the church organ. For 30 years, it was a storage warehouse for the Soviet's Museum of History of Religion and Atheism.
There is no need to buy tickets as the entrance to the church is free of charge.
Next door to the Nevsky Prospekt Subway Station. Exiting the subway station on foot, go left (east) approximately 100 feet to The Catholic Church of St. Catherine of Alexandria.
Address: 32 - 34 Nevsky Street
Metro: Nevsky Prospekt or Gostiny Dvor
Open: Monday - Saturday from 09:00 to 19:00 ; Sunday from 09:00 - 20:00
Telephone: +7 812 571-57-95
Accessibility note: No ramps or lifts available
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