May 12, 2010

Old Icons Discovered in Kremilin Towers

Ancient Icons Bricked-Up By Soviets Discovered on Moscow Kremlin Towers

May 11, 2010
RIA Novosti

Ancient gate icons that were bricked-up in the Soviet era and considered lost, have been discovered on two of the towers of the Moscow Kremlin, the initiator of a campaign to unveil the icons said on Tuesday.

Historical documents and structural markings, which can be seen from the outside of the Spasskaya, Nikolskaya, Kutafia and Konstantino-Yeleninskaya towers, and from the inside of the Spaskaya, Troitskaya and Borovitskaya towers, prove the icons were once placed above the gates of the towers.

The campaign to unveil the icons, which was initiated by the St. Andrew the Apostle Fund and supported by then Russian president Vladimir Putin and the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, began in 2007.

Head of Russian Railways Vladimir Yakunin, who heads the fund's board of trustees, said on Tuesday the icons had been discovered on the walls of the Spasskaya and the Nikolskaya towers.

"The main objective of our work is to ensure that the historic image of the Kremlin is restored and the pieces of the spiritual heritage of our people return to the Kremlin towers and to our lives," Yakunin said.

He said the work to unveil the icons had been carried out on the Spasskaya and the Nikolskaya towers first because experts believed it most likely the icons there would be preserved under a layer of plaster. He said there were no documents to suggest that the icons have been destroyed.

Yakunin said work to unveil the icons would begin later in May and expressed hope that it would be concluded by late August.

Historical documents say that a fresco that is expected to be uncovered on the wall of the Nikolskaya tower dates back to the late 15th to early 16th century.

Director of the Kremlin museums Yelena Gagarina said the icons could have been bricked-up in 1937, during celebrations dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the creation of the Soviet state.

The Soviet authorities waged a fierce war against the practice of religion, destroying churches across the country and harshly repressing believers.

Walled-In Icons Discovered On the Kremlin Towers

Moscow, 12 May 2010, Interfax - Ancient icons were discovered on the Spasskaya and Nikolskaya Towers of the Kremlin. They were walled in during Soviet times and have been deemed lost for a long time now.

"The fact is that the icons were discovered at least on two towers (of the Kremlin - IF). This is an epoch-making event as far as cultural discoveries are concerned," head of the Council of Trustees of the St. Andrew the First-Called Foundation Vladimir Yakunin said at a press conference held by Interfax.

He stated that the Foundation had initiated the reinstallation of icons over the gates of the Moscow Kremlin towers as far back as in 2007. The project received the government support and the blessing of Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia. In April 2010, experts of the Interregional Scientific and Restoration Office made probes of the icon-cases of the Spasskaya and Nikolskaya Towers. The research has confirmed the hypothesis that the icons were preserved under the layer of plaster.

According to him, the Fund's project "is not limited to these two towers only; the thing is that historians had more reasons to suggest that the icons of the Spasskaya and Nikolskaya Towers were preserved."

Head of the Kremlin supervisory service, deputy director of the Federal Guard Service Sergey Khlebnikov believes that the discovery of the icons on the Kremlin towers is "the event of overwhelming ethical impact."

According to him, the Kremlin commandant's office has received many proposals to restore the icons over the gates, but the Foundation's initiative "had a clear distinction of being specific."

According to the existing historical materials, the Spasskaya Tower houses the icon of the Savior depicted with St. Sergius and St. Varlaam falling down at His feet. The icon was painted to commemorate the rescue from the siege of Moscow by the army of Magmet Girey in 1521. The mural on the Nikolskaya Tower dates back to the late 15th - early 16th centuries. During the civil fights in October 1917, the icon of St. Nikolas of Mozhaysk was riddled with shots, but his face escaped unharmed which the Moscow believers considered a miracle.

Icons On the Kremlin Towers Concealed in USSR For Years Probably Saved Soviet Leaders From Numerous Misfortunes, a Priest Believes

Moscow, 12 May 2010, Interfax –The Russian Orthodox Church official believes it a true miracle that ancient icons were discovered on the Spasskaya and Nikolskaya Towers of the Kremlin by efforts of St. Andrew the First-Called Foundation.

"I admire heroism of people who managed to save these icons. The thing they did is a true man-made miracle," head of the Synodal Department for Church and Society Relations Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin told Interfax-Religion.

According to him, "holy icons walled-in from human eyes were present in Red Square" for decades of the Soviet rule, "Soviet leaders passed beneath them, parades and demonstrations took place in their presence."

"Who knows, perhaps only thanks to this, the Kremlin and Red Square workers were saved from numerous misfortunes and, above all, from madness ideology of that time could have easily led to," the priest said.