CHAPEL OF ST NICHOLAS THE WONDERWORKER

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The Chapel of St Nicholas the Wonderworker as well as the Chapel of St Alexander Nevsky was erected in 1886 as a memorial of the war with Napoleon. It was situated on the left(south) side of the arrow loop in the Nikolskaya Tower of the Kremlin. Brick, square in plan, with high arch and window apertures, the Chapel was covered with tetrahedral pavilion crowned with the cupola and cross. Under its gates, there was placed a copy of icon of St Nicholas the Wonderworker. The Chapel belonged to the Kazansky Cathedral, which had been erected in 1637 by Dmitry Pozharsky to commemorate the victory over the interventionists in 1612. I.A. Bondarenko writes: “In 1886, two chapels (of St Nicholas the Wonderworker and St Alexander Nevsky) were built before the Nikolskaya Tower such asthose that had stood before the Spasskie Gates. The new chapels did not onlyput a focus on the two main entrances to the Kremlin, but also strengthened architectural ties between original monuments of Russian architectonics and modern buildings in the Russian style.” (Red Square of Moscow. M., 1991, c. 193).

Chapels of Alexander Nevsky and Nicholas the Wonderworker (on the left) at the Nikolskaya Tower of the KremlinChapels of Alexander Nevsky and Nicholas the Wonderworker (on the left) at the Nikolskaya Tower of the Kremlin

The icon of Apostle Philip was placed in the St Nicholas Chapel to commemorate the day, when the French were put to the run from Moscow, and the icon of St Stephen - to commemorate the day of Russia’s liberation from the French. The frescoes on walls and ceiling were dedicated to the same theme: the images of St Adrian and Natalia to commemorate 26 August, the day of the Battle of Borodino; St Thomas – 6 October, the day of the Battle of Tarutino; Apostle Matthew – 16 November, day when the French ran over the Berezina; Sts Martyrs  Chrysanthus and Daria – 19 March, the day when Paris was taken. Finally, inside above the doors there was hanging an icon of the Virgin of Kazan, whose Feast is on 22 October, the day when the Battle under Vyaz’ma had occurred.

In 1917, when the Kremlin was under bombing, St Nicholas’s icon lost its left hand with a cross, but the right hand with a sword remained. Copies of ‘early Nicholas’ icon were spread all over the country. As Archbishop Ioannes recalls, in spring 1918, the red fabric, which had covered the hanging under the gates icon of St Nicholas the Wonderworker, got ripped on its own and flew to stripes away from the icon.  The crowd watched the miracle in silence and one soldier started to shoot at the icon.

In 1930, the decision to destroy possibly all cathedrals and chapels on Red Square was taken.