The Cathedral of Immaculate Conception

It is easy to see that this is one of the largest Catholic Cathedrals in Russia when you are right under its walls. These dark, gothic wallsand jutting spires bear a certain image from the Middle Ages of Europe. The front of the cathedral looks very much like the famous Westminster Cathedral in London, and its polygonal dome, topped with spires, resembles the Milan Cathedral. But it’s no wonder because the building was constructed in Neo-Gothic style induced by the European Romantic Epoch of late 19th century that embodied a lot of real Gothic architecture.

It is well known that Moscow had never been close to Rome and was never interested in establishing relationships with the Catholic Church. But at the end of 17th century, when parts of Ukrainian and Belorussian lands became Russian territories, Roman Catholics appeared in Moscow. The first Catholic community raised the church dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul. In order to attract foreigners to Russia, Tsar Peter the First and particularly Catherine II permitted the Roman Catholics, primarily of German and Polish origin, to settle down for good with churches, a hierarchy and schools.

The final design of the Cathedral was developed by the famous Moscow architect Foma Bogdanovich-Dvorzhetskiy. The Cathedral, designed to hold five thousand worshippers, represents the Basilica having in mind the shape of an oblong Latin cross. This is a famous cross-like plan with the image of Christ imposing on the typical church plan. In this particular case, Christ’s head is the presbytery with the altar; body and legs fill the nave and spread arms turn into transept. Therefore, the cathedral is the expression of the idea that the Church is the body of Christ. The cathedral was built in 1901-1911.
In 1989 the “Polish House” Association and Moscow’s Catholics for the first time raised the question of handing over the church to its true owners, Catholics and Catholic Church. The building was handed over to worshipers only in 1996 and in the same year the parish of Immaculate Conception received certificates of right to perpetually use the building.

In 2005 a new organ was placed in the Cathedral. It was presented by the Lutherans of the Swiss city Basel and it is the biggest organ in Russia. The instrument has 74 stops, 4 manuals and 5563 pipes which allow it to immaculately perform any kind of organ music of various epochs. At the present time the biggest Neo-Gothic Catholic Church in Russia is open to the public and is used as an auditorium where the world’s best musicians perform the concerts of organ music.

Tour to Moscow