Allyson Johnson

Pieces of my Mind

To Russia with Mom – Day 3 – Martyr’s Manic Monument

Mom and the Church on Spilled Blood

The Church on Spilled Blood erupts from the site of the assassination of Csar Alexander II like a clump of maniacally multicolored mushrooms.  Yes, that is an over-the-top opening sentence, and this over-the-top icon of St. Petersburg deserves it. The church’s exterior façade is made up of elaborate brickwork with gilded mosaic insets, topped by seven onion-shaped domes, either gilded, painted or tiled in colorful patterns of checks and swirls. If you can imagine Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty castle covered in vari-colored gumdrops held on with gold-leaf staples, you might have an inkling of what the outside is like. It is surrounded by tourists, brides, and wedding parties, all enthusiastically snapping photos of the Church and each other as well as of the erzatz Catherine and Peter the Greats who hang about in period costume hoping to be paid for a photo.

Interior with saints – Church on Spilled Blood

Inside is another unworldly vision – a vertical mosaic world of golden-haloed giants against an ethereal blue background.  Anything not covered by mosaic tile is gilded. The floors are inlaid with marble in diverse colors and intricate patterns.

High in the dome above a compassionate and sorrowful Christ looks down at the sinners below. Mysteriously, his fingers area crossed.  Is he wishing us luck against the odds?

Christ in his heaven

A sunken , flower-decked spot in the floor surmounted by an elaborately carved wooden gazebo marks the actual site of the czar’s assassination by a terrorist bomb attack in 1881. Mom is convinced that this gazebo was build first and then the rest of the church built around it – I’m not sure if this is true or a garbled version of a half-heard tour guide’s talk.Origin tale true or not, the Church on Spilled Blood  is also one of Mom’s favorite sights of our whole trip. If you are visually impaired, an outsize and brightly colored landmark is sure to be a hit.

Mom inside the Church of Spilled Blood

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One thought on “To Russia with Mom – Day 3 – Martyr’s Manic Monument

  1. Joan Pampeyan on said:

    Allison and your Mom, Marilyn, are an inspiration of us all!
    Fantastic writing!

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