Cathedral of the Vernicle Spaso-Andronikov Monastery
official website Russian Orthodox Church
A glimpse of history
Moscow’s Spaso-Andronikov Monastery is known far and wide, first and foremost due to the name of a monk who lived there of old; the name is Andrey Rublev. One of the greatest icon-painters of all time and author of the world-famous icon of the Trinity, which is regarded by many as a pinnacle of Christian art, he died in 1428, was immortalised by his namesake Andrey Tarkovsky in a ground-breaking film and proclaimed a saint by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1988. Rublev created many icons and decorated several churches across central Russia; according to some historians, his last work was the decoration of the Cathedral of the Vernicle in the abbey where he lived – the Spaso-Andronikov Monastery.
The name of the monastery is derived from ‘Spas’, which means ‘Saviour’, and Andronicus, the name of the monastery’s first Abbot. The full name of the principal cathedral, in verbatim translation, reads as follows: the Cathedral of the Image of the Saviour Which Was Not Made by Hands. This is the name by which the Russian tradition usually refers to the Vernicle, or the Mandylion – the piece of cloth where an image of the Redeemer’s face was miraculously imprinted after He wiped his brow with it.
It was a copy of this holy Vernicle that was being taken to Moscow from Constantinople in 1356 by Metropolitan Alexii, the head of the Russian Church, when, sailing across the Black Sea, his ship found itself in the middle of a violent storm. The Metropolitan prayed for salvation and made a promise to the Lord to have a church built if the ship survived. Presently, the wind and the waves subsided, and the Metropolitan arrived, unscathed, to his destination. It was August 16th, one of the days on which the Vernicle is especially venerated by Eastern Christians. Regarding this coincidence as a miracle, Metropolitan Alexii founded not just a church but a monastery on his arrival to Moscow. Its main cathedral, having been rebuilt several times, still stands today; it is the oldest stone building in Moscow, dating back in its present shape to ca. 1425.
After the revolution of 1917, the monastery was dissolved. The grounds and buildings were put to various uses, and finally, in 1960, became the site of the Central Museum of Old Russian Art and Culture. The Cathedral of the Vernicle is now a parish church, one of the few where the old style of choral singing, the plainsong, is used in service. The ancient chants reverberate in the historic building against the backdrop of the surviving fragments of Andrey Rublev’s murals, still visible in the cathedral’s eastern part.
Services are usually held on some of the weekdays,
7.30 AM and 5.30 PM,
and every weekend:
9.00 AM and 5.30 PM on Saturdays and
9.30 AM on Sundays.
Visit us Andronyevskaya Ploshchad 10, Moscow, Russia
Phone: +7 495 911 4502