St. Catherine’s Armenian Church
St. Catherine’s Armenian Church is located on Nevsky Avenue opposite the A. Pavlov Merchants’ Arcades. It was built to the design of Yuri Felten in 1771 — 1780.
The small building of the church stands in the recess of a gap between the houses.
Its little light cupola elegantly elevates over the four-column Corinthian porticos supporting a triangle pediment.
Still farther up the Nevsky is an Armenian church representing that form of Christianity which has been in most frequent and intimate contact with the world of Islam; this church may be regarded as typifying the connection between St. Petersburg and the Caucasus in the subjection of which to Russia the Armenians co-operated so ardently.
Harold Willams, Russia of the Russians, 1910
A brick red stela standing in front of the church was donated by the Republic of Armenia for the 300th anniversary of St. Petersburg. The main entrance to the temple is decorated with a portico with a triangular pediment on the bas-relief which depicts the story of the Armenian king Tiridates being baptized by St. Gregory. On the door of the church are small gilded plates - a gift from the church parishioner. The interior of the church is fully restored: a plain black marble floor, light gray columns and walls. Artistic painting as caissons, and plaster cornices.
History of the Armenian Community in St. Petersburg
The first written evidence of Armenians in Petersburg is dated between 1707 and 1708, when representatives of Armenian trading houses came to Peter the Great, asking for permission to trade with German lands (the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation) directly from St. Petersburg. The permission was granted, and by 1710 a small colony of Armenian merchants settled in the new capital of the Russian Empire; they were engaged in building new trade routes, bringing Russia into the European market, and European goods - to Russia. Realizing the importance of Armenian presence in St. Petersburg, Peter I in 1711 told the Senate: "Cuddle Armenians and help them, so that more of them want to come" The Armenians of the city united in a community and became an integral part of the history of the Northern Capital.
Shrine Donated by the Hermitage
The church has a shrine, donated by the Hermitage - Skevr reliquary with the relics of saints venerated by the Armenian Church. These are images of St. Bartholomew, St. Thaddeus, St. George and St. Gregory.
St. Gregory and Tiridates
Gregory came from a royal family. His father Anak, wanting to become the ruler, killed his brother and paid for it with his life. The new king commanded to destroy the whole family of the traitor, but Anak’s son was saved from the slaughter by one of his relatives, who took him to Caesarea. In a foreign country the child was baptized and given the name of Gregory. The boy received Christian education, and when he grew up, got married and had two sons. Widowed, Gregory returned home and began to serve the Tsarevich Tiridates, to atone for his father. After becoming the ruler, Tiridates demanded Gregory renounce his faith, but Gregory refused. Tiridates had him tortured: beaten, hung upside down, then thrown into a deep ditch, teeming with snakes. But the snakes did not touch Gregory. Then the saint was taken out of the pit and condemed to death by starvation. But he did not die: faith sustained him, and one pious woman secretly brought food. So passed thirteen years. At this time, Tiridates went crazy. Like a madman, he tore his clothes, biting his body roamed the forest. People whispered that it was God punishing him for the death of the holy martyr Ripsinii and her sisters - she refused to marry the emperor, remained faithful to their religion. One sister of Tiridates had a dream that the poor man would recover if Gregory were to be released from the pit. Tiridates prayed, repented, and asked for forgiveness for their crimes - and he recovered. After that, the king was baptized by Gregory, and after the king was baptized, the entire Armenian nation was baptized too. St. Gregory became the first bishop of Armenia. "Blue Pearl" Nevsky Prospect, as is still called the temple reopened for parishioners. In this church come people of different nationalities - all those for whom the history of Russia and Armenia.