Cathedral court in Veliky Ustyug
Cathedral court is a spiritual center of Veliky Ustyug. The unique complex comprises the cathedral of the Dormition of the Virgin (XVII – XVIII centuries), the St. Procopius’s Cathedral of (XVII – XIX centuries), the St. John’s Cathedral (XVII – early XX century), the church of Epiphany (of Vlasy Sevastiisky, XVII century), the Church of Alexius, the metropolitan of Moscow (XVIII century), Archbishop's Court (XVII – XIX centuries).
The Dormition Cathedral
The history of the Dormition Cathedral is counted by several centuries. According to the Ustyug Chronicles, in 1290 bishop Tarasy from Rostov arrived to Ustyug to consecrate the newly constructed temple in the name of the Dormition of the Virgin. The burned down wooden cathedral was replaced in the middle of the XVI century by a stone one. Built in the style of the main Russia temple – the Assumption Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin, it became the first stone city cathedral in the Russian North.
The present shape of the Dormition Cathedral has developed as a result of numerous reconstructions which it underwent for 450 years. The huge building of the temple, the main part of which is built according to the strict monumental forms typical of the XVI century, looks really majestic. The southern facade of the cathedral is completely hidden behind the constructed in the middle of the XIX century two-storeyed warm side-chapel of Epiphany. A high cathedral belltower (the end of the XVII – XVIII century) with its complex construction, consisting of two incorporated volumes adjoins it from the east.
The interior of the Dormition Cathedral executed in the second half of XVIII century, is richly decorated by stucco mouldings in the shape of angels’ heads, small statues, wreaths, overlays, eaves. Performed in spirit of the late Baroque, the magnificent iconostasis amazes us with its unique carving.
The images of the saints for the iconostasis were painted by the archpriest of the Dormition cathedral Vasily Afanasyev Alenev. The portrait gallery of bishops of Veliky Ustyug and Totma which have come down to us is considered unrivaled in Russia. It represents unique murals painted in 1770s and is connected with his name. Restoration works in the Dormition cathedral were started by the Veliky Ustyug Museum – Reserve in the last quarter of the XX century. Now Moscow restorers are working on the renewal of the unique iconostasis of the temple.
The Cathedral of Procopius of Ustyug
Procopius Pravedny (the Godly) is especially worshiped on the Ustyug land. In 1668 above the relics of the saint a stone temple with a church porch and a belltower was erect on the donation of the Ustyug merchant Afanasy Guselnikov. The temple was repeatedly reconstructed during the next three centuries. In 1867 a side-chapel, consecrated in the name of St. Tikhon, bishop of Voronezh was built.
The interior of the cathedral is decorated with a magnificent carved gilded five-tiered iconostasis executed in the early XVIII century. The iconostasis of the St. Procopius cathedral represents an integral collection of the XVII – XVIII century Ustyug painting. The icons of the local tier commissioned as a rule to the well-known masters have the greatest artistic value. The church icon «Procopius of Ustyug, approaching Mother of God with Child, with 24 scenes from his life» (1602) and the icon «Mother of God and Procopius of Ustyug in prayer» (late XVI – early XVII century) are attributed to the Stroganov School of painting, to the famous quest Nikita Stroganov. The refined color range, graphically exact delineations of the figures make the images particularly expressive. The gift of Afanasy Guselnikov, the constructor of the St. Procopius’s cathedral is the image «Procopius of Ustyug, with 40 scenes from his life» (1669). The icon painter depicted in every detail all the deeds and miracles by Procopius of Ustyug.
Restoration of the iconostasis was performed in 1980 – 1990s and at the same period the wall painting was restored.
From 1990s on the St. Procopius’s cathedral – one of the most beautiful temples of Veliky Ustyug – is under the joint jurisdiction of the Veliky Ustyug State Historical Museum of Art and Architecture and parish of St. Procopius’s of the Vologda eparchy of the Russian Orthodox Church.