Transfiguration Cathedral
A second cathedral in the monastery, a warm winter one, and Venerable Seraphim spoke about its construction
This cathedral is of a particular beauty we have never seen before.
It is rising up as if ready to ascend to heaven.

Protopresbyter Stephan Lyashevsky

This cathedral is of a particular beauty we have never seen before.
It is rising up as if ready to ascend to heaven.

Protopresbyter Stephan Lyashevsky

Beginning of the construction – June 10, 1907
End of construction – 1916

Father Seraphim told the sisters of Diveyevo: "A large summer cathedral will be built and then another one will be made for wintertime." A monastery tradition has it that Father Seraphim foretold the construction of a second "warm" cathedral that was to be built at the end of the Kanavka, straight behind the unheated Trinity Cathedral and the bell-tower. In defiance of the holy elder's will, Ivan Tolstosheev, who handled all the Diveyevo affairs after his passing, built a rather cramped and uncomfortable Tikhvin Church instead. When the issue of building a new, heated cathedral arose, the Tikhvin Church was left untouched, while the cathedral's foundation was laid southward, opposite the beginning of the Kanavka.
Foundation site of the Transfiguration Cathedral seen in the foreground
Foundation site of the Transfiguration Cathedral seen in the foreground
The cathedral's construction was funded by major donations that began when Emperor Nicholas II made the first contribution during his visit to Diveyevo in 1903. The Moscow merchant Feodor Vasilyevich Dolgintsev gifted a sizeable amount for its construction. He even moved from Moscow to Diveyevo in order to supervise progress at the construction site. In 1916, the year the construction was finished, Feodor Vasilyevich reposed in the Lord, being tonsured with the name of Seraphim shortly before.
The icon named "The Altars of the Seraphim-Diveyevo Monastery," painted at the beginning of the twentieth century, depicts an architectural ensemble of the monastery with the Transfiguration Cathedral in it
The Moscow architect Alexander Yefimovich Antonov designed the church in a Neo-Russian style. Its structure is made of reinforced concrete, still a rare application in the construction industry of that time. Four reinforced concrete pillars support the envelopes of its lesser vaults made of the same material.
It was a cathedral of particularly striking beauty.


Protopresbyter Stephan Lyashevsky
It was a cathedral of particularly striking beauty.

Protopresbyter Stephan Lyashevsky
The architecture, composition elements and details of the ancient Russian church construction art of the Vladimir-Suzdal period served as prototype for the new cathedral of the Seraphim-Diveyevo monastery. The cross-domed system, integrally connecting a great number of the cathedral's spatial cells, symbolizes the universal Church as the unity of all mankind.


The height of the Transfiguration cathedral:
Exterior – 48.5 m
Interior – 35.45 m

Transfiguration Cathedral's characteristic architectural feature is its exceptional levity and airiness as if it soars skyward to heavens above.
The cathedral is raised on a tall podium, with its wide stairs leading upwards, as a sign of the world's gradual ascension to the Church on high. The church's bulk has a terraced construction expanding up to its central part, from the extensions to its principal mass, finished with the rounded gable heads, and then upwards, to its five-domed top and the elevated central dome drum.

The cathedral's wall paintings were made by the sisters under the guidance of the painter Pavel Lvovich Parilov from Palekh. Since 1902 he taught icon painting and frescoes at the Seraphim-Diveyevo monastery. The sisters painted the icons as well.

In 1916, the construction of the cathedral was completed, and its big golden crosses, donated by the residents of St. Petersburg, already adorned its domes. All that was left to do was to install an iconostasis and set up a heating system, which delayed the consecration by a year. Next came the revolution of 1917. The cathedral was left standing without consecration and without a single church service until the end of the 20th century. Known simply as "New Cathedral," it was to be consecrated in honor of the icon of the Mother of God "Tenderness."
During Soviet times, it housed a garage and later a shooting range. Protopresbyter Vladimir Smirnov gives the following description of the cathedral's state of ruin: "The new cathedral, once fully ready for consecration, is in utter desolation! Glass windows are broken, doors gone, entrance steps broken and overtaken by grass. Grass even grows in the gutters of the roof, all in dire need of a layer of paint. Crosses are gone from both old and new cathedrals, and the latter's concrete floor has a huge gaping hole in one place, revealing an eerie view of the deep cavity of its basement." According to nun Seraphima (Bulgakova), the new cathedral was set to be blown up a few times, but the final authorization never came, as the blast would have damaged the structures nearby.

A pilgrim who visited Diveyevo in 1979 remarked: " We entered a half-ruined and defiled church of Transfiguration that had stood without consecration since before the revolution. Its walls retained some paintings of the saints, so we reached for our prayer books, and, led by Maria, sang the troparions to those saints whose images were still visible. Suddenly, in the midst of our singing, a scream was heard. Two militiamen appeared in the doorway."
During Soviet times, trees grew on the cathedral's roof, just as blessed Paraskevi Ivanovna prophesied at its groundbreaking ceremony.
In 1991, local authorities returned the cathedral to the newly reopened monastery and it was in a state of renovation for the next few years. The consecration of its main altar took place on August 20/September 3, 1998, the day of repose of the not-yet-glorified Venerable Martha of Diveyevo. The new cathedral was dedicated to the Transfiguration of the Lord. That same year, on October 14/27, the lower right hand altar was dedicated to the Archangel Michael, Chief of the Heavenly Hosts and the Other Bodiless Powers. On December 8/21, the lower left side altar was dedicated in honor of All Saints. On June 8/21, 2006, the upper right altar was dedicated to the Tikhvin Mother of God. Finally, On July 29/August 11 of that same year, the upper left altar was dedicated to all the New Martyrs of Russian lands.
On the eve of the feast of the Holy Trinity in 2008, the wall painting process was completed. It had lasted five years. Anatoly and Olga Belyaev, the artists from Samara, headed the team of master painters from Samara, Ulyanovsk, Vladimir, Palekh and Shuya. The painting style followed the tradition of the Moscow school of painting of the 16th century (workshop of Dionysius), while the ornamental friezes were done in the manner of St. Sophia's Cathedral of Novgorod. The decoration of the western part of the cathedral, even more so in the narthex, is visibly influenced by the Byzantine art. Despite the large volume of paintings (the total size of the church is 6125 cubic meters), light and airy paints exude lightness and levity in harmony with the feast of the Lord's Transfiguration. The paintings mainly depict events and parables from the Gospels, while the images of saints are located in the medallions.
The iconostasis, made of gilded wood, was executed by specialists from the town of Shuya in Ivanov Region
The iconostasis, made of gilded wood, was executed by specialists from the town of Shuya in Ivanov Region
As a rule, the Transfiguration Cathedral holds early Liturgy services on the days when two Divine Liturgies are scheduled at the monastery. Traditionally, on the eve of Epiphany, the cathedral holds a special service of the Great Blessing of Water – the Epiphany water. On that day, all of the space inside the cathedral is packed full with large drums, as well as all kinds of smaller-sized vessels, canisters, and bottles.
The celebration of the Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God at the Transfiguration Cathedral is another Diveyevo tradition. The Litany service, with the burial shroud procession, begins at the cathedral and is followed by the reading of the Psalter of the Mother of God all day and all night. It concludes with the Lamentations service and the Rite of Burial.
Needless to say, the Transfiguration cathedral's dedication feast day is a bright and joyful occasion traditionally marked with the blessing of fruit.
The Transfiguration cathedral stores the canopy used during the summer feast of Venerable Seraphim. It is brought outside and set up in front of the church on the cathedral square. A specially built podium holding the shrine with the relics of the Sarov's elder is placed under the canopy.

At all other times, the canopy houses a large shrine with the relics inside the cathedral. The cathedral holds many icons, chests with relics and an icon of Venerable Seraphim of Sarov with his half-mantle embedded in it. A side chapel contains a glass showcase with artifacts related to the Sarov monastery and Father Seraphim.
The Cathedral stood by the Kanavka of the Queen of Heaven, it was as great in size as the summertime cathedral, they formed an exquisite monastery ensemble of the City of Queen of Heaven.

Protopresbyter Stephan Lyashevsky

The Cathedral stood by the Kanavka of the Queen of Heaven, it was as great in size as the summertime cathedral, they formed an exquisite monastery ensemble of the City of Queen of Heaven.

Protopresbyter Stephan Lyashevsky