Ambitious Plan to Build Replica of Hagia Sophia in Village Near Rostov the Great

"While the exterior of the new church will not exactly replicate the Istanbul cathedral, as there are a number of later additions to the building, the interior will be an exact replica, at 2/3 the size of the original."

Originally appeared at: Orthodox Christianity

Over the past 25 years, the Church of St. John Chrysostom in the tiny village of Godenovo in the Russian Yaroslavl Province has become a major pilgrimage center.

The church is home to the famous Godenovo Cross, known to work innumerable wonders both in antiquity and today. On feast days, more than a thousand pilgrims can easily descend upon the church, which can only accommodate about 300 people.

Thus, a new Byzantine-style cathedral, modeled after Agia Sophia in Istanbul, is under construction, designed to accommodate as many as 2,000 people.

The miraculous Godenovo Cross. Photo: pravoslavie.ru
Photo: pravoslavie.ru

The miraculous Godenovo Cross. In an interview about the project in June, Abbess Evstolia of the Pereslavl-St. Nicholas Monastery (the Church of St. John Chrysostom became a representation of the monastery in 1997) noted that the project became a necessity as the veneration of the Cross continued to grow and attract pilgrims from throughout Russia.

“Godenovo is a missionary center, and we’re building this church not for ourselves, but for those who come to the holy Cross, to receive healing and consolation from God,” Mother Evstolia explained.

Historical sources have preserved that the Cross first appeared in Russia on May 29, 1423, thirty years to the day before the fall of the Byzantine Empire. Moreover, it is believed that the Cross came “from the Greeks.” Thus, it was decided to model the new cathedral after the world-famous Agia Sophia.

While the exterior of the new church will not exactly replicate the Istanbul cathedral, as there are a number of later additions to the building, the interior will be an exact replica, at 2/3 the size of the original.

The upper church will be dedicated to the Wisdom of God, and the lower to the Holy Royal Martyrs.

Construction is scheduled to compete in 2023, timed to the 600th anniversary of the appearance of the Cross.

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