Help Now >
FREE Catholic Classes
(Russian Moskva ).
The ancient capital of Russia and the chief city of the government (province) of Moscow, situated in almost the centre of European Russia. It lies on both sides of the River Moskva, from which it derives its name; another small stream called the Yauza, flows through the eastern part of the city. Moscow was the fourth capital of Russia --the earlier ones being Novgorod, Kieff, and Vladimir--and was the residence of the Tsars from 1340 until the time of Peter the Great in 1711. It is the holy city of Russia, almost surpassing in that respect the city of Kieff, and is celebrated in song and story under its poetic name Bielokamennaya , the "White-Walled". The population, according to the latest (1907) available statistics, is 1,335,104, and it is the greatest commercial and industrial city of Russia. It is the see of a Russian Orthodox metropolitan with three auxiliary or vicar bishops, and has 440 churches, 24 convents, over 500 schools (with high schools, professional schools, and the university besides), some 502 establishments of charity, mercy, and hospital service, and 23 cemeteries. The population is composed of 1,242,090 Orthodox, 26,320 Old Ritualists, 25,540 Catholics 26,650 Protestants, 8905 Jews, and 5336 Mohammedans, together with a small scattering of other denominations.
Historically, the city of Moscow, which has grown up gradually around the Kremlin, is divided into five principal parts or concentric divisions, separated from one another by walls, some of which have already disappeared and their places been taken by broad boulevards. These chief divisions are the Kremlin, Kitaigorod (Chinese town), Bielygorod (white town), Zemlianoigorod (earthwork town), and Miestchanskygorod (the bourgeois town). The actual municipal division of the city is into seventeen chasti or wards, each of which has a set of local officials and separate police sections. The city hall or Duma is situated on Ascension Square near the Kremlin. The Kremlin itself is a walled acropolis and is the most ancient part of Moscow, the place where the city originated; it is situated in the very center of the present city, some 140 feet above the level of the River Moska. The Kitaigorod, or Chinese town, is situated to the north-east and outside of the Kremlin, and is in turn surrounded by a wall with several gates. It is irregularly built up, contains the Stock Exchange, the Gostinny Dvor (bazaars), the Riady (great glass enclosed arcades), and the printing office of the Holy Synod. Just why it was called the Chinese town is not known, for no Chinese have ever settled there. The allusion may be to the Tatars, who besieged and took Moscow several times, camping outside the Kremlin.
The Kremlin and Kitaigorod are considered together and known as the "City" ( gorod ), much as the same word is applied to a part of London. The enormous walls surrounding them were originally whitewashed and of white stone, and are even yet white in places, thus giving rise to the poetic name. Just outside of it lies the Bielygorod, or white town, extending in a semicircle from the Moskva on the one side until it reaches the Moskva again. The Bielygorod is now the most elegant and fashionable part off the city of Moscow. Containing as it does, beautiful and imposing palaces, many fine public monuments and magnificent shops, theaters, and public buildings, it presents a splendid appearance worthy of its ancient history. Around this, in a still wider semicircle, is the Zemlianygorod, or earthwork town, so called because of the earthen ramparts which were constructed there by Tsar Michael Feodorovich in 1620 to protect the growing city in the Polish wars. They have been levelled and replaced by the magnificent boulevards known as the Sadovaya (Garden Avenues).
The wealthy merchants and well-to-do inhabitants dwell here, and fine buildings are seen on every side. The remainder of the city is given over to the industrial and poor classes, railway stations, and factories of all kinds. In addition, there is that part of the city which lies on the south side of the Moskva, the so-called Zamoskvarechie (quarter beyond the Moskva) where the Tatars dwelt for a long time after they had been driven from Moscow proper. Now it is the Old Russian quarter, where old-fashioned merchants dwell in state and keep up the manners and customs of their fathers, The famous Tretiakoff art galleries are situated here. There are six bridges across the River Moskva connecting both parts of the city.
The name Moscow is mentioned in Russian chronicles for the first time in 1147. In March of that year Yuri Dolgoruki (George the Long-armed), Grand Duke of Kieff and son of Vladimir Monomachus, is said to have met and entertained his kinsmen there at the village on the Moskva. So pleased was he with the reception which he had received and so impressed by the commanding location of the situation that he built a fortified place on the hill where the meeting took place, just where the present Kremlin is situated. The word Kremlin (Russian Kreml) seems to be of Tatar origin, and means a fortified place overlooking the surrounding country. Many other Russian cities dating from Tatar times have kremlins also, such as Nizhni-Novgorod, Vladimir, Kazan, and Samara.
In the beginning of its early history Moscow was nothing but a cluster of wooden houses surrounded by palisades; in 1237 the Tatar Khan laid siege to it, and his successors for several centuries were alternately victors and vanquished before it. In 1293 Moscow was besieged and burned by the Mongols and Tatars, but under the rule of Daniel, son of Alexander Nevsky, its fame increased and it became of importance. He conquered and annexed several neighbouring territories and enlarged his dominions to the entire length of the River Moskva In 1300 the Kremlin was enclosed by a strong wall of earth and wooden palisades, and it then received its appellation. In 1316 the Metropolitan of Kieff changed his see from that city to Vladimir, and in 1322 thence to Moscow. The first cathedral of Moscow was built in 1327. The example of the metropolitan was followed in 1328 by Grand Duke Ivan Danilovich, who left Vladimir and made Moscow his capital. In 1333 he was recognized by the Khan of Kazan as the chief prince of Russia, and he extended the fortifications of Moscow. In 1367 stone walls were built to enclose the Kremlin. Notwithstanding this, the city was again plundered by the Tatars two years later. During the rule of Dimitri Donskoi in 1382 the city was burned and almost entirely destroyed. Vasili II was the first, Russian prince to be crowned at Moscow (1425).
The city, although still the greatest in Russia, began to decline until the reign of Ivan III (1462-1505). He was the first to call himself "Ruler of all the Russias" ( Hospodar vseya Rossii ), and made Moscow pre-eminently the capital and centre of Russia, besides constructing many beautiful monuments and buildings.
His wife, who was Sophia Palæologus, was a Greek princess from Constantinople, whose marriage to him was arranged through the pope, and who brought with her Greek and Italian artists and architects to beautify the city. But even after that the Tatars were often at the gates of Moscow, although they only once succeeded in taking it. Under Ivan IV, surnamed the Terrible (Ivan Grozny), the development of the city was continued. He made Novgorod and Pskoff tributary to it, and subdued Kazan and Astrakhan. He was the first prince of Russia to call himself Tsar , the Slavonic name for king or ruler found in the church liturgy, and that name has survived to the present time, although Peter the Great again changed the title and assumed the Latin name Imperator (Emperor). This latter name is the one now commonly used and inscribed on public monuments and buildings in Russia. Moscow was almost completely destroyed by fire in 1547; in 1571 it was besieged and taken by Devlet-Ghirei, Khan of the Crimean Tatars, and again in 1591 the Tatars and Mongols under Kara-Ghirei for the last time entered and plundered the city, but did not succeed in taking the Kremlin. During the reign of Ivan the Terrible the adventurer Yermak crossed the Ural Mountains, explored and claimed Siberia for Russia ; the first code of Russian laws the Stoglav (hundred chapters), was also issued under this emperor, and the first printing-office set up at Moscow. Ivan was succeeded by Feodor I, the last of the Rurik dynasty, during whose reign (1584-98) serfdom was introduced and the Patriarchate of Moscow established. During the latter part of the reign of Ivan the Terrible, Boris Godunoff, a mall of high ambitions who had risen from the ranks of the Tatars, attained to great power, which was augmented by the marriage of his sister to Feodor. To ensure his brother-in-law's succession to the throne, he is said to have caused the murder of Ivan's infant son, Demetrius, at Uglich in 1582. When Feodor I died, Boris Godunoff was made Tsar, and ruled fairly well until 1605. The year before his death the "False Demetrius" ( Lzhedimitri ) appeared. He was said to have gone under the name of Gregory Otrepieff, a monk of the Chudoff monastery (Monastery of the Miracles) in the Kremlin, who fell into disgrace, escaped to Poland, gave himself out as Demetrius, the son of Ivan the Terrible, who had in some way escaped Boris Godunoff, another child having been murdered. King Sigismund of Poland espoused his claims, furnished him an army, with which and its Russian accessions the pretender fought his way back to Moscow, proclaiming himself the rightful heir to the throne. All who looked on Boris Godunoff as a usurper flocked to his standard, the widow of Ivan, then a nun, recognized him as her son, and he was crowned in the Kremlin as the Tsar of the Russias. For ten months he ruled, but, as he was too favourable to the Poles and even allowed Catholics to come to Moscow and worship, the tide then turned against him, and in 1606 he was assassinated at his palace in the Kremlin by the Streltsi or sharpshooters who formed the guard of the Tsars of Russia.
After seven years of civil war and anarchy Michael Romanoff, the founder of the present dynasty, was elected Tsar in 1613. But Moscow never regained its earlier pre-eminence, although it became a wealthy commercial city, until the first part of the reign of Peter the Great (1689-1725). He sent persons abroad, and, having observed the advancement and progress of Western Europe, determined to improve his realm radically by introducing the forms of western civilization. All the earlier part of his life was spent in war with the Swedish invaders and the Polish kings. In 1700 he abolished the Patriarchate of Moscow, left the see vacant, and established the Holy Synod. These acts set Moscow, the old Russians and the clergy against him, so that in 1712 he changed the imperial residence and capital from Moscow to St. Petersburg, which he had caused to be constructed for the new capital on the banks of the Neva. After the departure of the Tsars from Moscow, it diminished in political importance, but was always regarded as the seat and centre of Russian patriotism. In 1755 the University of Moscow was founded. In 1812 during the invasion of Russia by Napoleon, the Russians determined after the Battle of Borodino to evacuate Moscow before the victorious French, and on 14 September, 1812, the Russian troops deserted the city, followed by the greater part of the inhabitants. Shortly afterwards the French entered, and Napoleon found that he had no submissive citizens to view his triumphal entry, but that the inhabitants were actually burning up their entire city which was even then built largely of wood. He revenged himself by desecrating churches and destroying monuments. The Russian winter begins in October, and, with a city in smoking ruins and without supplies or provisions, Napoleon was compelled on 19-22 October, to evacuate Moscow and retreat from Russia. Cold and privation were the most effective allies of the Russians. The reconstruction of the city commenced the following year, and from that time hardly any wooden buildings were allowed. In May, 1896, at the coronation of Nicholas II, over 2000 persons were crushed and wounded in a panic just outside the city. In 1905 the Grand Duke Sergius was assassinated in the Kremlin and revolutionary riots occurred throughout the city. Although Moscow is no longer the capital, it has steadily grown in wealth and commercial importance, and, while second in population to St. Petersburg, it is the latter's close rival in commerce and industry, and is first above all in the heart of every Russian.
In the religious development of Russia Moscow has held perhaps the foremost place. In 1240 Kieff was taken by the Tatars, who in 1299 pillaged and destroyed much of that mother city of Christian Russia. Peter, Metropolitan of Kieff, who was then in union with Rome, in 1316 changed his see from that city to the city of Vladimir upon the Kliazma, now about midway between Moscow and Nizhni-Novgorod, for Vladimir was then the capital of Great Russia. In 1322 he again changed it to Moscow. After his death in 1328 Theognostus, a monk from Constantinople, was consecrated Metropolitan at Moscow under the title "Metropolitan of Kieff and Exarch of all Russia ", and strove to make Great Russia of the north ecclesiastically superior to Little Russia of the south. In 1371 the South Russians petitioned the Patriarch of Constantinople: "Give us another metropolitan for Kieff, Smolensk, and Tver, and for Little Russia." In 1379 Pimen took at Moscow the title of "Metropolitan of Kieff and Great Russia ", and in 1408 Photius, a Greek from Constantinople, was made "Metropolitan of all Russia " at Moscow. Shortly afterwards an assembly of South Russian bishops was held at Novogrodek, and, determined to become independent of Moscow, sent to the Patriarch of Constantinople for a local metropolitan to rule over them. In 1416 Gregory I was made "Metropolitan of Kieff and Lithuania ", independently of Photius who ruled at Moscow. But at the death of Gregory no successor was appointed for his see. Gerasim (1431-5) was the successor of Photius at Moscow, and had correspondence with Pope Eugene IV as to the reunion of the Eastern and Western Churches . The next Metropolitan of Moscow was the famous Greek monk, Isidore, consecrated under the title of "Metropolitan of Kieff and Moscow". When the Council of Florence for the reunion of the East and the West was held, he left Moscow in company with Bishop Abraham of Suzdal and a large company of Russian prelates and theologians, attended the council, and signed the act of union in 1439. Returning to Russia, he arrived at Moscow in the spring of 1441, and celebrated a grand pontifical liturgy at the cathedral of the Assumption in the Kremlin in the presence of Grand Duke Vasili II and the Russian clergy and nobility. At its close his chief deacon read aloud the decree of the union of the churches. None of the Russian bishops or clergy raised their voices in opposition, but the grand duke loudly upbraided Isidore for turning the Russian people over to the Latins, and shortly afterwards the Russian bishops assembled at Moscow followed their royal master's command and condemned the union and the action of Isidore. He was imprisoned, but eventually escaped to Lithuania and Kieff, and after many adventures reached Rome.
FREE Catholic Classes Pick a class, you can learn anything
From this time the two portions of Russia were entirely distinct, the prelates of Moscow bearing the title "Metropolitan of Moscow and all Russia " and those of Kieff, "Metropolitan of Kieff, Halich, and all Russia ". This division and both titles were sanctioned by Pope Pius II. But, Kieff continued Catholic and in communion with the Holy See for nearly a century, while Moscow rejected the union and remained in schism. After Isidore the Muscovites would have no more metropolitans sent to them from Constantinople, and the grand duke thereupon selected the metropolitan. Every effort was then made to have the metropolitans of Moscow independent of the Patriarch of Constantinople. After the Turks had captured Constantinople, the power of its patriarch dwindled still more. When the Bishop of Novgorod declared in 1470 for union with Rome, Philip I, Metropolitan of Moscow, frustrated it, declaring that, for signing the union with Rome at Florence, Constantinople had been punished by the Turks. This hatred of Rome was fomented to such a point that, rather than have one who favoured Rome, a Jew named Zozimas was made Metropolitan of Moscow (1490-4); as, however, he openly supported his brethren, he was finally deposed as an unbeliever. Yet in 1525 the metropolitan Daniel had a correspondence with Pope Clement VII in regard to the Florentine Union, and in 1581 the Jesuit Possevin visited Ivan the Terrible and sought to have him accept the principles of the Union. In 1586, after the death of Ivan, the archimandrite Job was chosen Metropolitan of Moscow by Tsar Feodor under the advice of Boris Godunoff. Just at that time Jeremias II, Patriarch of Constantinople, who was fleeing from Turkish oppression, visited Russia and was received with all the dignity due to his rank. In 1589 he arrived at Moscow and was fittingly received by Boris Godunoff, who promised to take his part against the Turks if possible, and who requested him to create a patriarch for Moscow and Russia, so that the orthodox Church might once more count its five patriarchs as it had done before the break with Rome. Jeremias consented to consecrate Job as the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia, and actually made him rank as the third patriarch of the Eastern Church , preceding those of Antioch and Jerusalem. This patriarchate was in fact a royal creation dependent upon the Tsar, its only independence consisting of freedom from the sovereignty of Constantinople.
In 1653 the Patriarch Nikon corrected the Slavonic liturgical books of the Eastern Rite by a comparison with the Greek originals, but many of the Russians refused to follow his reforms, thus beginning the schism of the Old Believers or Old Ritualists, who still use the uncorrected books and ancient practices. The Patriarchate of Moscow lasted until the reign of Peter the Great (that is 110 years), there being ten patriarchs in all. When Patriarch Adrian died, in 1700, Peter abolished the office at once, and allowed the see to remain vacant for twenty years. He then nominally went back to the old order of things, and appointed Stephen Yavorski "Metropolitan of Moscow", but made him merely a servant of the Holy Synod. To emphasize the new order of things more strongly, it is related that Peter himself sat on the patriarch's throne saying in grim jest: "I am the patriarch". Not until 1748 was the Eparchy or Metropolitanate of Moscow canonically established by the Holy Synod under the new order of things. In 1721 Peter published the "Ecclesiastical Regulations" ( Dukhovny Reglament ), providing for the entire remodelling of the Russian Church and for its government by a departmental bureau called the Holy Governing Synod. This body, usually known as the Holy Synod, has existed ever since. Its members are required to swear fidelity to the Tsar by an oath which contains these words: "I confess moreover by oath that the supreme judge of this ecclesiastical assembly is the Monarch himself of all the Russias, our most gracious Sovereign" ( Reglament, Prisiaga , on p. 4, Tondini's edition). The Holy Governing Synod is composed of the Metropolitans of St. Petersburg, Moscow, and Kieff, several other bishops, and certain priests, but its active affairs are carried on by lay government officials (the bishops act rather as consultors or advisors), and the Chief Procurator, a layman, directs its operations, while none of its acts are valid without the approval ( Soizvoleniya ) of the Tsar. No church council or deliberative church organization has been held in Russia since the establishment of the Holy Synod.
The chief and most historic buildings in Moscow are situated in the Kremlin, which is a triangular enclosure upon a hill or eminence on the north bank of the Moskva. It is surrounded by a high wall of brick and stone, provided with high towers at intervals, and has five gates, one (for pedestrians only) in the wall on the riverside and two in each of the other walls of the triangle. The most celebrated gate is the Spassakaya Vorota , or Gate of the Saviour, opening out upon the Red Square. It contains a venerated image or icon of Christ, and all persons passing through the gate must remove their hats in reverence. Inside the Kremlin are churches, palaces, convents, a parade ground, a memorial to Alexander II, also the Senate (or law courts building), the arsenal, and the great Armoury. Directly inside the Gate of the Saviour is the convent of the Ascension for women, founded in 1389 by Eudoxia, wife of Dimitri Donskoi. The present stone convent building was erected in 1737. Just beyond it stands the Chudoff monastery, founded in 1358 by the Metropolitan Alexis, and here in 1667 the last Russian church council was held. The present building dates from 1771. Next to it is the Nicholas or Minor Palace built by Catherine II and restored by Nicholas I. In front of this and across the parade ground near the river wall of the Kremlin is the memorial of Alexander II, very much in the style of the Albert Memorial in London. A covered gallery surrounds the monument on three sides, and on it are mosaics of all the rulers of Russia. To the west of the Minor Palace is the church and tower of Ivan Veliky (great St. John) with its massive bells. At the foot of the tower is the famous Tsar Kolokol (king of bells ), the largest bell in the world. It was east in 1734, and weighs 22 tons, is 20 feet high and nearly 21 feet in diameter. A triangular piece nearly six feet high was broken out of it when it fell from its place in 1737 during a fire. Towards the north of the great bell in front of the barracks at the other end of the street, is the Great Cannon, cast in 1586, which has a calibre one yard in diameter, but has never been discharged. Behind Ivan Veliky stands the Cathedral of the Assumption, the place of coronation of all the emperors of Russia, and the place where all the patriarchs of Moscow are entombed. The present cathedral was restored and rebuilt in part after Napoleon's invasion. Across a small square is the Cathedral of the Archangel Michael. Here lie buried all the Tsars of the Rurik and Romanoff dynasties down to Peter the Great. He and his successors lie entombed in the cathedral in the Fortress of Sts. Peter and Paul in St. Petersburg. To the west lies the Cathedral of the Annunciation, in which all the Tsars before Peter were baptized and married, still used for royal baptisms and marriages.
Towards the westerly end of the Kremlin is the Great Palace in which all the history of Moscow was focussed until after the time of Peter the Great. It is the union and combination of all the ancient palaces, and contains the magnificent halls of St. George and St. Alexander and also the ancient Terem or women's palace, which is now completely modernized. In the centre of the courtyard of the palace stands the church of Our Saviour in the Woods ( Spass na Boru ). It was originally built here at the beginning of the thirteenth century, when the Kremlin was but a hill still covered with forest trees, and hence its name. Ivan I, in 1330, tore down the primitive wooden church and replaced it by a church of stone. Outside the Great Palace is the Armoury, one of the finest museums of its kind in Europe, being particularly rich in collections of Russian weapons and armour. The building towards the north of the palace, known as the Synod, was the residence of the patriarchs of Moscow and the first abiding-place of the Holy Synod. To the east of the Kremlin, outside the gates of the Saviour and of St. Nicholas, is the well-known Red Square, where much of the history of Moscow has been enacted. At the end of it towards the river stands the bizarre church of St. Basil the Blessed, of which Napoleon is said to have ordered: "Burn that mosque!" The Historical Museum is at the other end. At the east side of the Red Square is the Lobnoe Miesto or Calvary, to which the patriarchs made the Palm Sunday processions, and where proclamations of death were usually read in olden times. Behind it are the magnificent Riady or glass-covered arcades for fine wares, while at the northern entrance of the square behind the Museum is the chapel of the Iberian Madonna ( Iverskay a Bogoroditza ), the most celebrated icon in all Russia. It was sent to Moscow in 1648 from the Iberian monastery on Mount Athos.
One of the most celebrated modern churches in Moscow is the Temple of Our Saviour and Redeemer, built as a memorial and thanks offering in commemoration of the retreat of the French from Moscow. It was consecrated in 1883, is probably the most beautiful church in Russia and is filled with modern art adapted to the requirements of the Greek Rite. There are two Arches of Triumph in Moscow--one celebrating 1812, near the Warsaw station, and the other called the Red Gate, commemorating Empress Elizabeth. At Sergievo, about forty miles to the east of Moscow, is the celebrated Trinity Monastery ( Troitsa-Sergievskaya Lavra ), which is intimately bound up with the history of Moscow, and is one of the greatest monasteries and most celebrated places of pilgrimage in Russia ; it played a great part in the freeing of Russia from the Tatar yoke. There are three Roman Catholic churches in Moscow: the large church of St. Louis on the Malaya Lubianka, the church and school of Sts. Peter and Paul in the Milutinsky Pereulok, and another small chapel. There is also a Greek Catholic chapel recently founded by a priest converted from the Old Believers with a handful of worshippers.
Copyright 2020 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2020 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.
Catholic Online is a Project of Your Catholic Voice Foundation, a Not-for-Profit Corporation. Your Catholic Voice Foundation has been granted a recognition of tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Federal Tax Identification Number: 81-0596847. Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.