Tall and Narrow

by wjw on December 13, 2018

IMG_4173Here’s another photo from our 2019 calendar.  This is an interior view of something called the Church of the Savior on the Spilled Blood— lighthearted name, that— in St.  Petersburg, Russia.  It is built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was mortally wounded by a nihilist bomb in 1881.

Alexander was progressive as autocrats go, and reformed the government and freed the serfs.  This, alas, was not progressive enough for the nihilists.  At the dying tsar’s bedside were his son and grandson, Alexander III and Nicholas II, who turned into reactionaries and brought the process of reform to a shuddering halt.  Irony abounds.

The church was built by the two heirs and is, as you can see, very tall and somewhat narrow. (Descriptions that also fit Alexander III and Nicholas.)  The architecture is medieval revival— there was a lot of that going on in the 19th Century (see the Houses of Parliament),  The exterior features brightly-colored onion domes.  Every so often as you wander through the interior, you look up and see an oculus through through which the Virgin Mary or Christ Pantocrator peer at you.  As seems normal for big Russian churches, the whole place is slathered in gold.

The walls have more mosaics than anyplace in the world, apparently, and it’s a shame I didn’t like them more.  They’re an uneasy mix of traditional and modern styles, a combination of bombast and treacle.  (Another apt description of the last two tsars.)

The church was decommissioned after the Bolsheviks took over in 1917.  In World War II it was used to store corpses just arrived from the front, then potatoes.  Though the church has been restored, it hasn’t been resanctified, and only a few memorial services are held there.

Incidentally, I have yet to handle a copy of the calendar.  I ordered a bunch of them on November 27, and by December 4 they were printed and shipped.  According to Federal Express, they were shipped from Chicopee, Massachusetts, and from thence went successively to Middletown, Connecticut, back to Massachusetts at West Springfield, then to Byron NY, Hammond IN, Chicago IL Burbank IL, Brady NE, and Henderson CO.  (I have not even heard of most of these towns.)  They are now en route to Albuquerque, NM, which means they may arrive on my doorstep sometime in the next week.

pixlaw December 13, 2018 at 8:33 am

Walter –

Allow me to make 2 responses: Chicopee Mass is not that far away from Belchertown Mass, where once upon a time I spent a long long winter. However, Chicopee has its own Exit on the Massachusetts Turnpike, so you know it MUST be important.

Secondly, I was amazed to discover that the Czar was killed by a nihilist bomb. Who knew ordinance had political leanings?

DensityDuck December 13, 2018 at 12:57 pm

OT but germane to the author:


“The virus was in the population for years before we even knew it, spread by the aftereffects of the war. Insidious, coiling its way into the central nervous system, then coming alive all at once, a nest of viral saboteurs…”

“Through careful experiments, Silpe showed that his hunch was right: The virus’s version of VqmA can indeed detect the same DPO signals that the bacteria release. And when it does, it prompts the virus, which usually lies harmlessly in wait, to start killing its host…”

wjw December 13, 2018 at 8:06 pm

Pix, so far as I can tell, ALL bombs have nihilist leanings.

DD, there I go again predicting something depressing. Why can’t I invent anything cheerful?

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