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The spiritual symbolism of the St. Basil Cathedral.

On October 2, 1552 there was a battle at the city of Kazan, the Tatars were roundly defeated and Kazan was taken by force.

This event had great significance, especially for the Muscovite state. For this reason it was necessary to immortalize in a worthy manner the memory of this event. The question was - how to do it precisely? Build a church? But it would not be enough to build just an ordinary church; if one started building, it would have to be an extraordinary church, an unearthly church, a church which is described in the Scriptures as My Fathers house. In this house, it is said, there are many dwellings; and what are these dwellings? These dwellings can be none other that the dwellings of the beatitudes, and there are nine beatitudes, as mentioned by the Lord Jesus Christ in His sermon on the mount. It is with this in mind that the St. Basil Cathedral was built: this church could not be built right on the ground, as churches are usually built, but had to be raised above the ground, as the church of the beatitudes, which everyone can enter, but only upon leaving behind all earthly concerns and with a pure spirit. For this reason the church stands on an elevated vaulted foundation and can be reached by ascending high steps. After coming up onto the church square, one can enter any one of the nine churches, i.e. the dwellings of the beatitudes.

St. Basil Cathedral
St. Basil Cathedral

The middle one is larger than the others, for it is the dwelling of those who hunger and thirst after righteousness the most worthy of rapture, for they, according to the sermon, shall be filled, i.e. will truly attain rapture.

The other eight beatitudes can be divided into two categories: active and passive. To the first category belong: (1) the peacemakers, (2) the merciful, (3) the pure in heart and (4) the meek in spirit; to the second category belong all those whom others: (5) persecute and (6) revile for righteousness sake, who (7) mourn and are (8) poor in spirit.

The dwellings of the first group the worthiest ones are in the four higher domes, while the second group is represented by the four smaller domes. Moreover, these domes are placed in a way that the four higher domes form a true cross, i.e. the Saviours cross, while the smaller domes form an oblique cross, i.e. the cross of Apostle Andrew the First-called, who was the first to spread Christianity in Russia and was crucified on an oblique cross.

One may well ask now is there any another church in the world that symbolizes such a highly spiritual idea, as this unearthly church of the beatitudes?! And who is buried under the arches of this church of the beatitudes? St. Basil the Blessed.

Reprinted from The Finland Gazette, No. 54,1902

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