Church of the Tithes

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Church of the Dormition of the Virgin
Desjatynna westerfeld.jpg
The ruined Church of the Tithes in the 1650s, drawn by Abraham van Westerveld.
Basic information
Location Kiev, Ukraine
Affiliation Eastern Orthodox Church
Rite Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople
Province Kiev Metropolis
Status Non-existing
Architectural description
Architectural type cathedral
Completed 996
Specifications
Materials Stone

The Church of the Tithes or Church of the Dormition of the Virgin (Ukrainian: Десятинна Церква, Desiatynna Tserkva; Russian: Десятинная Церковь, Desyatinnaya Tserkov') was the first stone church in Kiev. Originally it was built by the order of Grand Prince Vladimir (Volodymyr) the Great between 989 and 996 by Byzantine and local workers at the site of death of martyrs Theodor the Varangian and his son Johann. It was originally named the "Church of Our Lady", in honor of the Dormition of the Theotokos. The church was ruined in 1240 during the siege of Kiev by Mongol armies of Batu Khan.

Vladimir set aside a tithe of his income and property to finance the church construction and maintenance, which gave the church its popular name.

On an initiative of the Metropolitan of Kiev Eugene Bolkhovitinov the church was rebuilt in the mid 19th century, but in 1928 it was once again destroyed by the Soviet regime.

Medieval church[edit]

By Vladimir's order, the remains of his grandmother Princess Olga, the first Christian ruler of Rus', were reburied in this church. Vladimir and his wife, Princess Anna, the sister of Byzantine Emperor Basil II, were also buried in the Church of the Tithes.

The church was used by Kievans as the last refuge while the city was being ravaged by the hordes of Batu Khan in 1240, when it finally collapsed from fire. Chernihiv's Saviour Cathedral (1036) is an extant structure supposed to reproduce the dimensions and exterior appearance of the original Church of the Tithes.

Replacement buildings[edit]

The 17th century Church of the Tithes.
The 19th century Church of the Tithes.

In the 1630s Peter Mogila (Mohyla), the metropolitan bishop of Kiev, had a wooden church of St. Nicholas erected on the site.

In the early 19th century another metropolitan bishop, Eugene Bolkhovitinov, had the site excavated. Under his administration, a new church of the Tithes was built in stone (between 1828 and 1842). Its Russian Revival design by Vasily Stasov had little in common with the medieval original. In 1935 Stasov's church was destroyed by the Soviet authorities.

Plans for reconstruction[edit]

A controversial plan to rebuild the church is currently under active consideration in Kiev. Proponents of reconstruction point out the historical and political importance of rebuilding a church of unchallenged significance in the history of all East Slavic people. Opponents refer to the lack of any documentary descriptions or depictions of the original church, and that excavations were unable to determine even the layout of its foundation. Besides, the monumental building of the new church is likely to be in disharmony with the delicate 18th-century St. Andrew's Church, one of the most famous landmarks of Kiev, located adjacent to the original location of the destroyed Church of the Tithes. Its reconstruction would also require the destruction of the city's oldest tree, a 370-year old linden.

3 February 2005 the President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko signed a decree on the restoration of the Tithe Church, to which the state budget provides nearly 90 million hryvnia ($18 million). In 2006 near Desyatynna church was established an Orthodox tabernacle. In 2007, a wooden church was built in the location of the tabernacle, consecrated by Primate of the UOC Metropolitan Volodymyr on July 25 of that year.

July 9, 2009 at a meeting of the Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church it was decided to open in Kiev the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Desyatynnyi monastery and appoint as governor Gideon Archimandrite (Charon). In January 2010, Kiev's Head of Urban Planning, Architecture and Urban Environment Design, Sergii Tsilovalnyk, reported that on the ruins of the Tithe church will be built a platform on which will serve as a foundation for the new church, which will belong to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate).[1]

List of burials[edit]

Within its premises the church had a princely tomb.

The remnants of Anna the Byzantium and Vladimir the Great were first reburied in the Church of the Saviour and later in the Dormition Cathedral of Kiev Caves Monastery. Some remnants were reburied in the Saint Sophia's Cathedral.

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Website Desyatinny Monastery of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin http://desyatynniy.org/en/

Coordinates: 50°27′28″N 30°31′03″E / 50.4577777878°N 30.51750001°E / 50.4577777878; 30.51750001