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All-Saints Church in the Pechersk Lavra Monastery in Kyiv
Hetman of Ukraine Ivan Mazepa (ca 1640–1709) endowed many churches, one of which was to grace a gate in the walls around the Pechersk Lavra Monastery in Kyiv.
The All-Saints Church was built above the Ekonomichna Brama — Economic Gate of the Lavra Monastery in 1696–1698. The money endowed by Ivan Mazepa made it possible to design and decorate the church in a highly impressive manner. The church bore Mazepa’s coat of arms on the facade of the church.
Later, when Mazepa was branded by the Russian Imperial authorities “a traitor,” his coat of arms was replaced with an icon. In 1999, in the eighth year of Ukraine’s independence, Mazepa’s coat of arms was returned to its place on the facade of the church.
The church in its present state reflects the style prevalent in the early eighteenth century and the changes introduced in later centuries. The iconostasis, which was created in 1741, dominates the interior of the church. Even though some of the original icons are missing, it does not affect the general spiritually uplifting impression too much.
The murals of the interior that date to much later times expand on the theological themes which were introduced at the time when the iconostasis was being created.
The murals were executed by the Ukrainian painter Ivan Yizhakevych and a team of 22 other painters led by him. Since the interior of the church is relatively small, there was no place for large compositions, but a harmonious unity of the paintings and the architectural structure was achieved. The faces of Lavra distinguished monks, apostles and churchmen and the ornamental patterns that fill all the available space create a highly attractive decorative effect. The figure of Jesus Christ that fills the interior of the central dome provides the focal point.
Most of the painters involved in decorating the walls of the church had been trained at the Lavra icon painting shop under the painter and teacher of drawing Ivan Yizhakevych and Volodymyr Sokolov who was the head of the shop. About a third of all the painters involved in decorating the church with murals signed the murals they were responsible for.
It should be mentioned here that both the interior and exterior of the church had been subject to some changes in the course of centuries, but since the year 1906 when the murals were done, there have been no more alterations introduced.
It was not known for sure whether there were any murals on the walls of the church prior to 1906 but recently done research and examination of the walls indicated that there had been some murals that decorated the walls in earlier times.
It has been established that the floral ornaments in the church date from the early decades of the eighteenth century. There are some indications that certain sections of the walls were decorated in the nineteenth century but they were far less impressive and artistic than the murals created in the early twentieth century.
The All-Saints Church is both an architectural and historical landmark. It reflects the architecture style of the past and reminds us of a pivotal figure in the Ukrainian history.
Based on the materials provided by Yaroslav LYTVYNENKO,
head of a department of the National
Kyiv Pechersk Lavra Cultural Preserve,
and Iryna MASLOVA,
head of another department of the Preserve.
Photos by Yuriy PRYSTAYETSKY
In his young years Mazepa served as a page at the court of the Polish king John Casimir. Mazepa was educated in western Europe but returned to his native land and in 1663 entered the service of Pyotr Doroshenko, the Cossack hetman of Ukraine.
Mazepa subsequently succeeded the established hetman of the Ukraine in1687 and fought against the Crimean Tatars. When Peter I took power in Russia, Mazepa managed to win Peter’s favor and retain his position in the Ukraine.
Mazepa endowed many churches and schools in Ukraine and was known for his vast cultural interests.
Mazepa was an ardent Ukrainian patriot who wanted to gain independence for his country at any cost and free Ukraine from Russian domination. Consequently, when the Great Northern War began in 1700, Mazepa entered into secret negotiations with Charles XII of Sweden. When in the fall of 1708 Charles led his forces into Ukraine seeking supplies and reinforcements, Mazepa and 5,000 of his Cossacks joined the Swedes instead of going to the aid of the Russians. The combined Swedish and Ukrainian forces suffered a defeat in the Battle of Poltava in June 1709. After that battle, Mazepa escaped with Charles into Turkish-controlled Moldavia, where he died.
View of the church from the south. 1698.
“I am the Light of the World,” says Christ the Savior.
Hetman Ivan Mazepa’s coat of arms
The iconostasis of the church with the images
The southern wall of the church with
the representations of St Philip, one of
the Apostles (in the arch), Cyril and Methodius,
of Old Slavonic (center),
The representation of St Stephen the Martyr,
was painted by a team of artists led
by Ivan Yizhakevych and Volodymyr Sokolov. 1906.
Decorative murals in the All-Saints Church.
General view of a part of the interior
of All-Saints Church.
Decorative ornaments on the western wall
of the southern transept. End of the 17th ce