Saint Sophia Cathedral in Novgorod

Velikiy Novgorod, Russia

Saint Sophia Cathedral in Novgorod


The Cathedral of Holy Wisdom (the Holy Wisdom of God) in Veliky Novgorod is the cathedral church of the Metropolitan of Novgorod and the mother church of the Novgorodian Eparchy.

The 38-metre-high, five-domed, stone cathedral was built by Vladimir of Novgorod and Bishop Luka Zhidiata between 1045 and 1050 to replace an oaken cathedral built by Bishop Ioakim Korsunianin in the late tenth century (making it the oldest church building in Russia proper and, with the exception of the Arkhyz and Shoana churches, the oldest building of any kind still in use in the country). It was consecrated by Bishop Luka Zhidiata (1035–1060) on September 14, in 1050 or 1052, the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. (A fresco just inside the south entrance depicts Sts. Constantine and Helena, who found the true cross in the fourth century; it is one of the oldest works of art in the cathedral and is thought to commemorate its dedication.) While it is commonly known as St. Sophia's, it is not named for any of the female saints of that name (i.e., Sophia of Rome or Sophia the Martyr); rather, the name comes from the Greek word for wisdom (σοφία, from whence we get words like philosophia or philosophy—"the love of wisdom"), and thus Novgorod's cathedral is dedicated to the Holy Wisdom of God, in imitation of the Hagia Sophia cathedral of Constantinople. Holy Wisdom is a reference to Christ.

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