Holy Virgin Cathedral

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The Holy Virgin Cathedral

Coordinates: 37°46′49″N 122°29′10″W / 37.78041°N 122.48624°W / 37.78041; -122.48624

Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco founded the Holy Virgin Cathedral

The Holy Virgin Cathedral, also known as Joy of all who Sorrow, is a cathedral in San Francisco of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia. It is the largest of the six cathedrals of that church[1] which has over 400 parishes worldwide.


Russian settlement in California began at Fort Ross in 1812. The original San Francisco parish of the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia was founded in 1927. An earlier Holy Virgin Cathedral was located on Fulton Street in San Francisco.[2] The current cathedral at 6210 Geary Boulevard in the Richmond District was founded by Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco, born Mikhail Maximovitch. The neighborhood is known for its Russian restaurants and shops, and the "most visible Russian presence is the magnificent Holy Virgin Cathedral".[3]

Groundbreaking took place in June 1961, construction was completed in 1965,[4] and the cathedral was consecrated in January 1977. Saint John, who died in 1966, is buried within the cathedral.[5]


The cathedral was designed by Oleg N. Ivanitsky, and features five onion domes covered in 24 carat gold leaf.[4] The "incredible beauty" of the interior, which is "lined by icons, religious paintings, and mosaics, and lit by a voluminous chandelier" can be seen only by those who attend religious services.[5] The cathedral is not otherwise open to the public, and interior photography is not permitted.

Clergy and programs[edit]

The Rector of the cathedral is Kyrill (Dmitrieff), Archbishop of San Francisco and Western America. The archbishop is a San Francisco native and a graduate of the University of San Francisco. The Cathedral operates a K-12 school, The Saint John of San Francisco Orthodox Academy, as well as a bookstore and housing for senior citizens.


  1. ^ Steeves, Paul D. (1988). The Modern Encyclopedia of Religions in Russia and the Soviet Union. Volume 5. Academic International Press. p. 58. ISBN 978-0-87569-106-0. 
  2. ^ Zaverukha, Lydia B; Bogdan, Nina and Ershova, Ludmila (2009). Russian San Francisco. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7385-7167-6. 
  3. ^ Nolte, Carl (June 20, 2010). "Russian emigres find history, community in S.F.". San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco). Retrieved December 4, 2011. 
  4. ^ a b Craig, Christopher; Penn, Elan (2006). San Francisco: A Pictorial Celebration. Sterling Publishing Company. ISBN 978-1-4027-2388-9. 
  5. ^ a b Sinclair, Mick (2004). San Francisco: A Cultural and Literary History. Interlink Books. p. 173. ISBN 978-1-56656-489-2. 

External links[edit]