November: Faith and Footprints

FF_St.Petersburg1By Sierra Rock,
Guest Writer, Senior at University of South Florida

For Faith & Footprints this month, I have the pleasure of giving you a first-hand account of some of the most beautiful cathedrals located in Russia. I was fortunate enough spend 10 months in Moscow during a study-abroad program at Moscow State University. Two of the highlights of my stay were visiting Moscow’s Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Red Square and Saint Isaac’s Cathedral in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

On the weekends, people would gather in Red Square to grab a coffee and stroll through the parks that surround the famous Saint Basil’s Cathedral. The Cathedral was built under the rule of Ivan IV in 1555 to celebrate Russia’s capture of Kazan and Astrakhan and still stands today in the middle of Red Square just meters from Lenin’s mausoleum.

The beautiful, brightly painted domes can be seen for miles and it is considered one of the most iconic structures in Moscow. Access to the inside is exclusive; therefore the general public is unable to tour the interior grandeur in this amazing cathedral. However, just standing in front of this historically significant cathedral was surreal. Although I had seen St. Basil’s many times in pictures, no picture can capture the beauty and splendor of such a place.

My travels also took me to Saint Petersburg, Russia where I was able to tour Saint Isaac’s Cathedral. This Cathedral was built under the rule of Alexander I in 1818, but wasn’t finished until 1858. As I walked inside of this glorious structure I was awestruck at the beauty of the architecture, colorful mosaics and icons from the floor to the ceiling. I had never seen anything more beautiful in my life. I could actually feel the presence of God while standing there. This cathedral most certainly is an inspirational tribute that truly honored God’s grace and presence.

Near the end of the tour, I elected to climb the 300 stairs to the top of the Cathedral, giving the most beautiful view of the city. The climb was tough and it was a bit chilly that day, but it was definitely worth it.

Russia’s cathedrals afforded me with some of the most breathtaking sites I have ever imagined. I look forward to returning to Russia and continue to learn about how mankind honors God through places of worship.