Our Lady of Kazan Cathedral
Where the history of the Diveyevo Monastery began
In her ardent prayers, Diveyevo foundress the Venerable Alexandra sought advice about fulfilling of the Queen of Heaven's will to create a monastery "unequal, either before or after, of any other on earth." Without a doubt, the Mother of God Herself guided her to build a new stone church and to dedicate it to Our Lady of Kazan icon exactly where She had once appeared to mother Alexandra.

The construction of the church began in 1773. The foundress not only took charge of the construction but also took an active part building it. Stone was quarried locally on the banks of the River Vichkinza. Mother Alexandra had personally dug out a well for the construction crew to use.
"Building of the Kazan Church in Diveyevo," detail of a painting at the Church of Nativity of Theotokos
of the Seraphim-Diveyevo Monastery
Our Lady of Kazan church is built in provincial Russian Baroque style. The side chapels of Our Lady of Kazan and St. Nicholas were both built as summer (unheated) churches, while St. Stephen's was constructed as a heated church, for wintertime. St. Stephen's side-altar received its name by way of a miracle. When Venerable Alexandra prayed to the Lord seeking His will in naming the third altar of the church, a voice was heard commanding it to be dedicated to the Protomartyr and Archdeacon Stephen. On the windowsill of her cell, Mother Alexandra had also found the saint's icon image that miraculously appeared out of nowhere. It was painted over a plain rough-hewn wooden block.
"Appearance of Icon of Archdeacon Stephen," painting at the Kazan Cathedral
Once the construction was completed in 1779, Venerable Alexandra went to Kazan to obtain a copy of the miracle-working icon of Our Lady of Kazan. She then travelled on to Kiev to obtain the saints' holy relics and later to Moscow to get a huge bell weighing 1.25 tons and other necessary church items.
The façade of the Kazan church in Diveyevo. 1827.
The builder Hyeromonk Pachomius consecrated Our Lady of Kazan church during a joint church service, which was held most likely on Sunday of January 19 Old Calendar, the day commemorating the Venerable Makarius of Egypt. Without further delay, Father Pachomius wrote a letter the next day to His Grace Bishop Simon announcing the consecration of the Kazan church.
The dedication of the monastery's first church to Our Lady of Kazan icon of the Mother of God commemorates Diveyevo as the earthly domain of the Most Holy Theotokos as well as the great gifts the Queen of Heaven has abundantly manifested to the monastery from its inception.
The dedication of the monastery's first church to Our Lady of Kazan icon of the Mother of God commemorates Diveyevo as the earthly domain of the Most Holy Theotokos as well as the great gifts the Queen of Heaven has abundantly manifested to the monastery from its inception.
A new stone church became a parish church, but as Venerable Seraphim of Sarov used to say, in due time it would become an all-season monastery church with various additions and side-altars, reminiscent of and not unlike the Jerusalem church.
The Kazan church will be so great, my joy, a truly great and unequal one! On the Judgment Day, the whole earth will be scorched, my joy, nothing will survive. Only three churches throughout the world will be taken up whole and un-shuttered to heaven: one in Kiev's Lavra, another… (sisters forgot the name of a second one) and a third one will be yours, of Kazan, Matushka. That's what kind of a Kazan church you have! Today's church will be set in like a jewel and rimmed by other churches, all of it blessed by the deeds of Mother Alexandra and those that will follow after her.
Venerable Seraphim of Sarov
The Kazan church will be so great, my joy, a truly great and unequal one! On the Judgment Day, the whole earth will be scorched, my joy, nothing will survive. Only three churches throughout the world will be taken up whole and un-shuttered to heaven: one in Kiev's Lavra, another… (sisters forgot the name of a second one) and a third one will be yours, of Kazan, Matushka. That's what kind of a Kazan church you have! Today's church will be set in like a jewel and rimmed by other churches, all of it blessed by the deeds of Mother Alexandra and those that will follow after her.
Venerable Seraphim of Sarov
The interior space of the church had a clearly defined structure. The three-aisle narthex was connected with the nave by a low-lying arch wrapped around the central aisle. The nave, well lit by three tiers of windows, dominated the church interior. Diagonal flanges of the octagonal base rested on spandrels. Walls of the quadrangle area were smoothly transitioned to lay flush with the octagonal beams, giving the nave an illusion of spaciousness. Floors throughout were made of cast iron plates, while the walls and dome vaults were white-washed. The tiered construction and the flowing lines of the domes gave the new village church an elegant appearance. The delicate silhouette of the church rising high above the village huts was easily recognizable from a distance.
After the monastery closed, services in the Kazan сhurch continued uninterrupted. Prot. Pavel Peruansky, the rector of the church, passed away at Pascha of 1938 in Arzamas jail as a mitred Archpriest. It is known that not long before his arrest the Soviets asked him: "Are you a pastor to shepherd or hired to serve?" He answered: "I am the shepherd."

The church bells were thrown down in the summer of 1928 or 1929 while the church was still open. In 1940, the crosses were taken down and the top tiers of the bell tower and the dome were demolished, followed by the demolition of the dome and tower drums in 1950s. A casual passerby of that period would hardly be able to distinguish in the present structural configuration a formerly remarkable example of the Russian Baroque architectural style. The church became a one-storied building under a gabled roof with windows of different sizes. It housed a dormitory of the teachers' college, then a workshop, and lastly, a warehouse.
In 1992, the Kazan church was handed back to the monastery. The old frescoes, depicting New Testament scenes and painted by the Diveyevo sisters, were uncovered in 1996. Shortly before the 100-year anniversary of the canonization of Venerable Seraphim, a decision to begin restoration was made and received a blessing from Bishop Georgiy of Nizhny Novgorod and Arzamas. V.V. Koval, as architect, and Y.A. Koval, an engineer, became the academic advisors of the restoration process.
We are witnesses to a miracle of God. Just last March, the Kazan church renovation was not even considered as possible. Sans its dome and bell tower, it looked like any other civil building. But through the intercession of the Queen of Heaven and Venerable Seraphim, a few do-gooders came up and said that the celebration like this one surely called for the renovation and promised to help. It would be nice to present the restored first monastery church as a special gift to Father Seraphim before his canonization anniversary.
Abbess of the Seraphim-Diveyevo Monastery Hegumenia Sergiya (Konkova)
We are witnesses to a miracle of God. Just last March, the Kazan church renovation was not even considered as possible. Sans its dome and bell tower, it looked like any other civil building. But through the intercession of the Queen of Heaven and Venerable Seraphim, a few do-gooders came up and said that the celebration like this one surely called for the renovation and promised to help. It would be nice to present the restored first monastery church as a special gift to Father Seraphim before his canonization anniversary.
Abbess of the Seraphim-Diveyevo Monastery Hegumenia Sergiya (Konkova)
A festive ceremony of raising a cross on a newly rebuilt bell tower took place on October 31, 2003, followed by another one on the dome of the Kazan church on December 24. During the elevation of the cross, grey winter clouds covered the skies above. Then, as soon as the cross was erected, a thin slice of cerulean blue appeared on the horizon, growing, expanding and pushing clouds further and further away. The sky cleared and, within an hour, the skies above the monastery and to the horizon turned powdery-blue, fair and bright. The churches were painted pink and glowed under the rays of the setting sun. One couldn't but rejoice at such a sudden change of weather from gloomy to fine.

A service to bless and raise the new bells (produced in Tutayev, Yaroslavl Region) for the Kazan church's bell tower took place on July 14, 2004. The main bell, weighing 2 tons, was decorated with the images of the Mother of God as Our Lady of Kazan, the Venerable fathers Sergius of Radonezh and Seraphim of Sarov and the Holy Royal Passion-bearers.

The preserved old paintings had been restored. New frescoes depicting events from the history of the Diveyevo monastery were created by the Moscow artists Yaroslav Ryllo and Daria Shabalina.
The main altar of the newly restored Kazan church was consecrated on July 31, 2004, the day before of the 250th anniversary of birth of Venerable Seraphim of Sarov. Metropolitans Philaret of Minsk and Slutsk, Patriarchal Exarch of all Belarus, Juvenaly of Krutitsk and Kolomna, Clement of Kaluga and Borovsk and the council of bishops celebrated the rite of the great consecration of the church.

At the end of the fist Diving Liturgy at the newly consecrated church, Metropolitan Philaret addressed the worshippers with the following words:

"Pious pilgrims, our esteemed guests, I greet all of you on this historic day, as we completed the consecration of this restored church dedicated to Our Lady of Kazan icon of the Mother of God. A Fervent Intercessor of the Christian race has shown us this great miracle, a new act of mercy, extending Her protective veil over the monastery in Diveyevo. The church of a great future, according to our elder’s prophecy, is rebuilt. Today, as we approach the feast of Venerable Seraphim of Sarov, our Church presents him with the gift of restoration and refurbishment of this holy church. At a moment like this, all that is left for us to do is glorify the Lord: "Glory to Thee, Our Lord, glory to Thee!"
The Moscow artist Yaroslav Ryllo and his team, known for their work at the church of Venerable Seraphim in Sarov, restored the interior plaster surfaces and paintings and made new wall paintings. A team of wood carvers directed by I. Titov built the iconostases, which were designed by architect T. Titova. The artist A. Antsiferov was in charge of iconography. The narthex area was decorated with scenes from Diveyevo's history. Some old paintings made by the nuns from the Diveyevo's icon and art workshops were preserved in the quadrangle area of the church.
Our Lady of Kazan church and the surrounding area will be dedicated for monastic use only, whereas the parish church will be allocated for a different location. This church, as is, and its Nativity church, will be in the center, while other chapels will encircle them around the perimeter. It will be a heated cathedral, its additions so large it will easily be likened to the great church in Jerusalem.

Venerable Seraphim of Sarov

Our Lady of Kazan church and the surrounding area will be dedicated for monastic use only, whereas the parish church will be allocated for a different location. This church, as is, and its Nativity church, will be in the center, while other chapels will encircle them around the perimeter. It will be a heated cathedral, its additions so large it will easily be likened to the great church in Jerusalem.

Venerable Seraphim of Sarov

On September 8, 2004, St. Stephen's side altar was consecrated, followed by St. Nicholas's on October 17, 2004. In 2002, in fulfillment of St. Seraphim's prophecies, new foundations were laid for a few side chapels next to the unrestored church.

In spring 2007, the most practical reconstruction design was selected from a total of seven design proposals submitted by the architect Victor Koval. "We had to accomplish a rather complex task in the process of constructing the new chapels," architect Victor Koval explained. "The Kazan church is a national-level listed monument in the Russian Baroque style, and it had a complicated construction timeline. As I was developing the side-altar project, I used the "Chronicle of the Seraphim-Diveyevo Monastery" as my guide. It provided me with somewhat sketchy and scattered prophecies of Father Seraphim about these future chapels that had to be disentangled. While the church remained unrestored, a few professionals voiced various opinions about its restoration and the simultaneous construction of new chapels. It was determined it would stabilize the church structurally, since it already had a few cracks and was indeed damaged. Moreover, no one thought then that the chapels would be added in a few years."

The construction of the eight chapels of the Kazan church from its northern and southern sides began in April 2007 and was completed in September. On July 20, 2008, the first side-altar at the Kazan church was consecrated to the Holy Hieromartyr Seraphim (Chichagov), the chronographer behind the "Chronicle of the Seraphim-Diveyevo Monastery." On August 21, 2008, His Grace Bishop Georgiy consecrated yet another side-altar of the Kazan church in honor of venerable mothers Martha, Elena and Alexandra of Diveyevo, followed by a consecration on October 2 of a chapel honoring Diveyevo ascetics Martha and Pelagia (Pestov) and the Venerable Confessor Matrona (Vlasova). On December 3, Bishop Georgiy of Nizhny Novgorod and Arzamas dedicated another chapel to the Holy Royal Passion Bearers, and yet another side-altar was consecrated to the holy blessed women of Diveyevo Pelagia, Maria and Paraskevi on December 11. Thenceforward, the Kazan church became known as the cathedral. Alexander Antsipherov and his team from the Nizhny Novgorod art studio "Kovcheg" made the wall paintings in the side chapels.
Some churches are big and imposing, others are low-key. Kazan church is like that. It is joy, a quiet one.
Yaroslav Ryllo, artist
Some churches are big and imposing, others are low-key. Kazan church is like that. It is joy, a quiet one.
Yaroslav Ryllo, artist
Our Lady of Kazan Cathedral is the place of eternal rest of the holy relics of the blessed women Pelagia, Paraskevi and Maria, as well as the Venerable Confessor Matrona (Vlasova). Festive services and moliebens are served on the days commemorating these saints.
Kazan Cathedral and its side-altars frequently hold a variety of services. Among the busiest and favorite church feasts are the days of commemoration of the Kazan icon of the Mother of God. Every Sunday, the cathedral holds a Liturgy service for students of the monastery's Orthodox school. School kids' families and teachers join in. The students serve as altar boys and sacristans, do readings and sing in the choir.

Sisters perform a Small Compline service with a reading of the canons every evening at the chapel of the venerable women of Diveyevo.

Kazan Cathedral holds daily memorial services, as well as an hour-and-a-half-long moliebens with a blessing of the water and a reading of the monastery's lengthy remembrance lists on Mondays.
All of Diveyevo is a holy place, and its holy love spills over and sparkles in every corner of this amazing place.


Sergei Nilus, writer

All of Diveyevo is a holy place, and its holy love spills over and sparkles in every corner of this amazing place.
Sergei Nilus, writer

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