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Restoring What Has Been Ruined
At a solemn ceremony, the statue of Archangel Michael who is considered to be “the heavenly protector of Kyiv” has been put at a conspicuous place in the National Preserve Sofiya Kyivska — the eleventh-century Cathedral of Holy Wisdom which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The figure of Archangel Michael graced the southern gate in the wall that runs around the cathedral for three centuries. The tower over the Southern Gate was built in the eighteenth century, and is thus much younger than the cathedral which was erected in the eleventh century (read more about the cathedral in an article published in this issue of WU).
It was in the eighteenth century that the dome of the tower was crowned with a statue of Archangel Michael, patron saint of Kyiv and of some of its churches.
In the 1930s, when the soviet authorities tore down many churches and other “religious monuments” during their “anti-religious campaign,” the sculpture was removed and destroyed. It is almost a miracle that the Cathedral of Holy Sophia itself has survived.
Now, so many years later, a replica of the statue of Archangel Michael has been made. Old photographs, descriptions and other archival documents were used in the creation of this replica of the original statue.
At first, a smaller version of the statue (one fifth of the original) was created by the sculptor Vyacheslav Hutyrya. Later, the artist Mykola Bilyk made the full-size statue (2.40 meters or 7.9 feet) using the smaller version as a model.
The whole project of making the replica of the statue was conceived by the management of the National Preserve Sofiya Kyivska and by the International Charity Fund Ukrayinska Rodyna (Ukrainian Family). The project was launched thanks to Oleksandr Glus, a businessman and patron of art, who financed it.
The statue used to stand on the top of the dome of the tower that stands right above the gate, and before the replica was to be installed there, it was necessary to check whether the dome would support its weight. The necessary restoration work was carried out to make sure the construction of the dome was sturdy enough to carry the weight of the statue. Everything else that needed to be repaired and refreshed, including the whitewashing of the walls of the tower, was taken care of.
Before the statue went up, it was placed in the courtyard of the cathedral so that those who wanted could take a close look at it. As it turned out, thousands of people did come to have a look during the four days the statue stood on the ground.
After the statue was installed where it belonged on the top of the dome, an official ceremony to mark the completion of the project was held on October 1 2010. The Minister for Regional Development and Construction of Ukraine Volodymyr Yatsuba speaking at the ceremony said that it was an important event in the cultural life of the city of Kyiv, and thanked those who contributed their money and efforts to making it possible. He handed Oleksandr Glus a thank-you certificate on behalf of his Ministry.
Oleksandr Popov, Kyiv’s vice mayor, also thanked the patron of art for his valuable and praiseworthy contribution, and handed him a gratitude certificate from the city administration.
Oleksandr Glus, in the capacity of the Head the Board of Trustees of the Project, handed Nelya Kukovalska, Director General of the National Preserve Sofiya Kyivska, the document which legally confirmed the donation of the statue to the National Preserve Sofiya Kyivska. In return, Mrs Kukovalska awarded Mr Glus with an appreciation certificate.
The official part of the ceremony over, a show was held in which Archangel Michael, who in the Orthodox Christian tradition is refereed to as “The Heavenly Arch-Strategist” who leads the angelic host against the hordes of Satan, once again achieved his victory over the forces of evil. The Ensemble of Ancient Instruments played ancient music and the Ukrainian Church Choir performed traditional church hymns. The audience’s reaction to the show was warm and enthusiastic.
Now there are three statutes of Archangel Michael in Kyiv — one can be seen in the central square of Kyiv Maydan Nezalezhnosti, the other one is at the Mykhailivsky Zolotoverkhy (St Michael’s Golden-Domed) Cathedral and the third one is perched at the top of the dome over the gate to the Holy Sophia.
Oleksandr Glus, a patron of art.
From left to right: Alla Glus, Oleh Shamshur,
From left to right: Nelya Kukovalska, Director General
From left to right: Stepan Glus, Oleksandr Glus, his wife and daughters;
Photos have been provided by the organizes of the event.