May 28, 2023

As Fontanka learned, on May 10, Hermitage director Mikhail Piotrovsky signed an agreement with Patriarch Kirill on the transfer of the sarcophagus of Alexander Nevsky to the Russian Orthodox Church. According to our source, now the one and a half ton work of art made of silver will be moved from the museum to the Alexander Nevsky Lavra.

Information “Fontanka” was confirmed in the Hermitage.

“The order of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation on the transfer was signed by First Deputy Minister Sergei Obryvalin,” the press service told Fontanka. — The museum collection of the State Hermitage is state property and is managed by the Museum Fund of the Russian Federation. The founder of the Hermitage is the Government of the Russian Federation under the auspices of the President. The agreement between the Diocese and the Hermitage has not yet been fully finalized.”

As for the timing of the physical transfer, information still differs. Fontanka’s source assures that it will be handed over “to Trinity”, that is, in early June. While the Hermitage explains that it is technically impossible to transfer the exhibit at such a speed due to many conditions. And it could actually happen by the end of the year.

Questions about the transfer of the sarcophagus of Alexander Nevsky from the State Hermitage have been raised for many years. At the end of December 2021, Patriarch Kirill urged return the shrine of Alexander Nevsky from the Hermitage to the Alexander Nevsky Lavra and “continue common efforts aimed at restoring historical justice, that is, “to return the shrine to the place from which it was taken by force.”

The position of the Hermitage was that in the 1920s the authorities of the USSR wanted to send this unique piece of Russian arts and crafts to be melted down. However, the museum workers defended the sarcophagus – in return for this, silver coins from the Hermitage collection were given for remelting.

In recent years, the museum has been engaged in the restoration of this complex of decorations of the tomb of Alexander Nevsky. At the end of 2021, the press service of the Hermitage said that “the restoration will last at least another two years.”

“Documents are being prepared. As soon as everything is finalized, we will publish on the Hermitage website all the details related to this, ”the museum told Fontanka, suggesting that they also expect publications on the websites of government agencies – the Presidential Administration and the Ministry of Culture.

The relics of Alexander Nevsky have been kept in a small shrine in Vladimir since 1695. In 1724, at the behest of Peter I, they were transported to St. Petersburg and later they placed a small shrine in a new, large one. The memorial complex made of silver weighing one and a half tons was kept on the second floor of the Church of the Annunciation. The reliquary stood there for less than a hundred years, but in the 18th century, the floor—and the ceilings in the church were wooden—began to collapse due to gravity. It was decided to build the Trinity Cathedral, where it was transferred.

In 1922, the relics were opened, they were kept in the Kazan Cathedral and returned to the Lavra in 1989.

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