Author: Georgy Vilkov(published in the Historical Almanac of Transnistria in 2011).
The need of the Russian people for spiritual life has always been great. This is especially true of the Russian warrior, whose whole life from birth to the funeral was closely connected with the church. Of course, the vast majority of military churches in the Russian Imperial Army were Orthodox. However, we must not forget that in essence the army was multi-confessional. Therefore, in its structure there were many so-called heterodox churches, the construction of which was fully or partially financed from the military budget.
An example of this is Kronstadt, where a mosque, two Lutheran churches, and a Roman Catholic church were located next to the Orthodox churches. The same picture was observed in the Russian Bendery fortress that had already become after 1812, where, along with the Orthodox churches of Alexander Nevsky and George the Victorious, there were Muslim mosques, Armenian and Greek churches. Orthodoxy, being essentially Christianity in its original fullness, has never been only a national religion, and therefore took any suffering under its protection.
A person, after his baptism in the temple, comprehended the world here, learned to read, sing, communicate with other people. The soldiers of the garrison took an oath in churches, confessed, got married, celebrated temple, regimental, general military and state holidays. Divine services were held in military churches before going on campaigns, and prayers of thanksgiving for victories were also served here. And, at the end of the earthly journey, it was from the temple that a soldier, officer and general was sent on their last journey. In addition to church functions, the military temple often became the scene of events in secular life - they announced government manifestos and decrees, announced the most important changes in the country and abroad. The temple also performed museum functions, accepting for storage priceless church and military-historical relics, weapons and banners captured from the enemy, ancient books and icons. Some temples were even a place of storage of the treasury and standards of measures and weights.
It is important to note that the command of the Russian army paid great attention to the religious education of military personnel, the development of a wide network of regimental churches. With the word of God, the regimental priest blessed the warrior for the battle, helped to overcome fear and suffering in case of severe wounds. There was no such case that a regiment or a ship went on a military campaign without a priest or a camp church.
Among the first immovable military temples are: the Church of the Savior Not Made by Hands, built at the behest of Ivan the Terrible in the Spassky Tower of the Kazan Kremlin; Cathedral of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker in Kyiv, built by Hetman I. Mazepa in 1695; the Church of the Holy Trinity in Poltava of the Yelets Infantry Regiment, etc. However, in essence they were not fully military, but were built in honor of the victory over the enemy or on the site of the battle in memory of the killed soldiers. Actually, military temples appeared under Peter I. Initially, these were camp churches that could be deployed in any suitable place, but on ships, special cabins were allocated under the churches. In 1748, the first permanent military wooden church was built for the Semyonovsky Guards Regiment. In 1753, the Naval Cathedral of St. Nicholas the Epiphany was erected in St. Petersburg. After 11 years, the Preobrazhensky Guards Regiment received its church. It was from that time that churches began to be built in many military garrisons, at military units and institutions.
Military churches, like ordinary parish ones, were divided into three types depending on their significance: cathedrals (guards, regimental, fortress and naval), churches (permanent and mobile) and chapels, which could be located in the buildings of barracks, headquarters, arenas. The largest group were permanent churches, which, in turn, were divided into regimental, garrison, camp, fortress, as well as churches at military cemeteries, prisons, hospitals, military educational institutions.
The classical fortress church was the Alexander Nevsky Church in the Bendery fortress; the church of St. Andrew the First-Called, although it was located in the Tiraspol fortress, according to the documents, was listed as a church at the local military infirmary.
Until 1800, all military church institutions were subordinate to the diocesan administration, depending on where the regiment was quartered. Only in campaigns on the outskirts of the empire or beyond its borders, the Holy Synod from among the hieromonks and archpriests appointed special officials to one or another unit, who bore the title of chief field priests or chief hieromonks of the fleet. However, in the conditions of constant field and nomadic life, the actual separation of military priests from the dependence of the Holy Synod and complete subordination to the military department gradually prepared the conditions under which the isolation of military priests from subordination to the diocesan administration became permanent.
It was in the era of the reign of Paul I, along with the reform of the army, that there were changes in the management of the clergy serving with the army, and the transition of the military field and naval churches, their clergy from subordination to the diocesan administration to the newly created department of chief and chief priests of the army began gradually. and fleet. On the ground, the positions of clergymen who were attached to the fleet and field chief priests were introduced. This transition was fixed by a number of the highest Decrees of the emperor. All newly appointed military priests have completely switched to army and navy support.
During the entire period of the development of the independent military clergy, the Holy Synod opposed this in every possible way, repeatedly taking the initiative to return the clergy under its guardianship. Therefore, he was in no hurry with his own decree establishing such a separation. Only in 1826, according to the Decree of the Synod No. 4352 dated April 14, 1826, in particular, fortress churches (in the list of which the temple in the Bendery fortress is listed under No. Majesty." Subsequently, the Holy Synod tried more than once to regain its leadership over the military priests and, in some cases, only the personal intervention of the emperor made it possible to end the strife between the Synod and the leadership of the army and navy.
In 1900, Minister of War A.N. Kuropatkin compiled a report addressed to the Highest name, where, in addition to proposals for improving the life of the lower ranks, he asked to find funds for the construction of churches in all parts of the troops, where a priest was appointed by the staff. On the basis of this report and the results of the work of the special commission, a single type of military church was developed, and 100 thousand rubles were annually allocated to the military department for the needs of church construction. For example, the regimental church of the 56th Zhytomyr Infantry Regiment in Tiraspol was built according to a similar type .Military priests in the army and navy were a special caste of people who had unquestioned authority and respect. Although the soldiers and officers of the regiment tried to save the priest in battle, he always remained with his flock and never avoided bloodshed. Often, with the help of one cross, he raised timid soldiers into battle and, together with them, rushed into the thick of enemies.
In connection with numerous cases of manifestation of heroism by regimental priests, back in 1797, by the Highest Decree, representatives of the military clergy began to be awarded for special merits: the orders of St. Anna, St. Vladimir, St. George and gold pectoral crosses on the St. George ribbon, while the last two awards were given only for military merit. In 1855, for numerous cases of heroism shown during the defense of Sevastopol, military priests were given the right to attach swords to the awards they received. It is noteworthy that the presentations for awards were held not according to the diocesan, but according to the military department.
The independent management of the military clergy and its development at the beginning of the 20th century resulted in the fact that during this period of time there were already 24 large cathedrals and about 630 garrison, regimental, fortress, hospital and other churches on the balance sheet of the military department.
As follows from the foregoing, military churches served exclusively military personnel and members of their families, although, as an exception, they did not refuse civilian flocks if there was no other Orthodox parish in the location of the unit.
Like the parishes, the military churches were entrusted with another important function - keeping registers of births. Throughout the entire period of their existence, the churches performed the functions of modern registry offices: they registered newly born, married and dead - they issued the corresponding metrical extracts, which were sometimes the only document of the act of registration of civil status, which was recognized on the territory of the entire vast empire.
Camping churches kept such parish registers only during campaigns. Registers of births were filled out by the priest in three copies, one of which remained in the church, the second went to the local diocesan administration, and the third centrally entered the special administration of the Naval clergy in St. Petersburg. Thanks to this order, many metric books, including those of military churches, have survived to this day, and they can be found in the specialized archives of the CIS. March registers allow you to track the movement of the regiment in combat campaigns, during the period of change in the place of its permanent or temporary deployment. According to the same books, one can establish the names of those who died during the battles in which the unit took part. So, thanks to the marching metric books of the 55th Podolsky Infantry Regiment, it was possible to establish the names of the dead soldiers and officers of the regiment who laid down their lives in the defense of Sevastopol in 1855 and during the liberation of Bulgaria in 1877-1878.
In the second half of the 18th century, in the Northern Black Sea region, with the complete extinction of the previously all-powerful Poland, Turkey had a new serious adversary - Russia, whose rapid advance into this region could no longer be stopped. As a result of the war of 1768-1774, strategically important territories were ceded to Russia. She secured free access to the Black Sea. In 1791, according to the results of the Yassy peace treaty, the territories between the Southern Bug and the Dniester were ceded to Russia and the annexation of Crimea was confirmed. The left-bank part of Transnistria was liberated, the construction of Tiraspol and the Tiraspol fortress began. According to the results of the Bucharest peace treaty, in 1812 Bessarabia became part of the Russian Empire. The powerful Bendery fortress, which was twice returned to the Turks, has since become the place of permanent deployment of Russian troops, mainly fortress artillery and pontoon battalions, engineering teams, military workers' companies, etc. more than 100 different regiments of the Russian Imperial Army. This was established thanks to the study of the parish registers of the Bendery fortress military church. Since the second half of the 19th century, the city of Bendery became the place of permanent deployment for the 55th Podolsky Infantry Regiment, and the city of Tiraspol for the 56th Zhytomyr Infantry Regiment and the 22nd (8th) Astrakhan Dragoon Regiment. These units had a significant impact on the history and appearance of these cities of Transnistria. Since the annexation of our lands to the Russian Empire, all those processes, including the organization of military churches and their functioning, also spread to these settlements - the largest in Transnistria, where Russian military and fortress garrisons were represented in significant numbers.
It is known that the most ancient Orthodox church in the city of Bendery was the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which is mentioned in sources as early as the 15th century. It was in it that the Moldavian ruler Stefan cel Mare prayed in 1482. This church has not survived to this day. At present, the military church of Alexander Nevsky in the Bendery fortress is not only the oldest religious building in Bendery, but also one of the oldest in the entire territory of Pridnestrovie.
The Turkish mosque, located at the main Tsaregrad gates, was hastily converted into the first Orthodox church on the territory of the Bendery fortress, after the successful capture of the fortress by the troops of G.A. Potemkin in 1789. This church was named after St. George the Victorious. On November 7, on the third day after the occupation of the fortress, Prince G.A. Potemkin, in a letter to Archbishop Ambrose, reported: “Of the mosques that are here, I chose the two best ones for conversion to the church. Your Eminence, deign to consecrate one of them as a cathedral in the name of the Holy Great Martyr and Victorious George; name the other as you see fit; but that they should be prepared for this, I gave a command” (According to the second church, we are apparently talking about a mosque located to the west of the citadel of the fortress, which on the maps of the same period will be designated as the Church of the Holy Trinity and in which, after 1806, the Nevsky Church will be located. Approx. Vilkov).
However, on the maps of 1789, in addition to the above mosques, a mosque is also shown in the area of the 2nd bastion, a mosque in the depths between the 6th and 7th bastions, as well as a mosque in the depths, in the area of the Jassy (Varnitsky) gates.
In addition, the maps show the Armenian Church northwest of the citadel and the Greek Church in the area of the Horde (George) gates.
From the correspondence of Field Marshal G.A. Potemkin, as well as from his order, it becomes clear that these two churches were also converted from mosques - “... two more (mosques) for churches, one for the Roman Catholic religion, the other for the Armenian, which are entrusted for this: Armenian - Archbishop Joseph, and of the Roman confession - to the priest Skirnevsky. Something immediately went wrong with the Greek one, since on the map already in 1790 it is again shown as a mosque.
If we summarize all the data on mosques, then for this period of time, there were quite a lot of them in the Bendery fortress. As many as seven separate buildings and two mosques in the towers - the Gateway and the Lower Fortress.
In accordance with the Yassy peace treaty of 1791, the Bendery fortress was again returned to Turkey, all the mosques converted into Orthodox churches returned their status as Muslim religious sites.
In 1806, after the bloodless occupation of the fortress by the corps of Baron Meindorf, the military once again adapted the building of a large Turkish mosque, located 65 meters from the citadel, along its western wall, next to Turkish baths and wells, as an Orthodox church. It was named St. Alexander Nevsky Church. Due to the outflow of the Muslim population from Bendery, soon the Turkish mosques on the territory of the fortress ceased to function at all and were subsequently demolished by the Russian military. They are no longer on the maps of 1847.
In 1807, with the blessing of Metropolitan Veniamin of Yassy, Archpriest Stefan Shamrayevsky took up the re-equipment and adaptation of the former Muslim mosque into the military church of Alexander Nevsky. This former mosque was a two-story stone building with two rows of windows, covered with tiles on top. A place for a choir was equipped in the upper part of the large hall, a rich and beautiful iconostasis was installed. As in many temples of the military department of that time, in the church of Alexander Nevsky, military trophies obtained from the Turks were kept in a place of honor - banners, bunchuks, cannons, firearms and edged weapons. Once, like many other military churches of that time, in the sphere of the growing separation of military church institutions from the management of the Holy Synod, the church of Alexander Nevsky, in addition to the military district chief and the chief priest who was with him, was also subordinate to Metropolitan of Bendery and Akkerman Dimitry.
After 15 years, the building of the former mosque, which was badly damaged especially during the first assault on the fortress, judging by the correspondence of the military engineering department, began to collapse and, due to its size, could not accommodate everyone. Therefore, in 1821, a petition was prepared for the allocation of a site for the construction of a new capital building of the Alexander Nevsky Church to the commandant of the Bendery fortress, the district military commander, as well as the metropolitan. Soon it was chosen and, as it turned out, very successfully: on the site of the demolished former Turkish shopping malls, on the main fortress street - Tsaregradskaya, leading from the fortress directly to the city center, between the citadel and the main gates of the fortress.
However, although the place for the construction of the church was determined, funds for its construction could not be found for a long time. Already in 1825, the church building (in which the mosque had previously operated) began to completely collapse. In this regard, the temple was moved to one of the private houses at the Varnitsky gates of the fortress (the modern car repair plant "Dnestr-Avto"). Part of the money was found in the next year, 1826, but the solemn laying of the church was carried out only in 1828.
In the same year, on May 6, the fortress church operating in a private house was visited by the Russian Emperor Nicholas I with his family. The temple was finally opened in 1833. It was built in the form of a cross, in the Byzantine style. Accommodated 600 people. Then the gospel, a silver censer and brocade airs were solemnly presented to the church. A stone chapel at the Bendery military cemetery was assigned to the temple. The church was supposed to have one priest and one psalmist. A house was specially built for the priest in the fortress. The church served all military personnel stationed in the fortress and in the city, as well as members of their families, allowing the deceased retired military men to attend the funeral.
As a result of working with the parish registers of this temple, a remarkable fact was established - for more than 80 years the dynasty of priests Kogutovsky served in it, by whose last name the allocated military cemetery in Borisovka was sometimes called.
By 1916, especially for the arrival of Emperor Nicholas II in the city, a royal pavilion was built next to the temple. From the moment of its construction, the church, like many military temples of that time, carried a pointed spire, repeating the spire of the Admiralty Needle. But later, as a result of numerous reconstructions, the temple was already crowned with a massive round dome, made in the form of a heroic helmet.
The Church of Alexander Nevsky survived the hard times of the revolution of 1917, the Romanian occupation of 1918-1940, the fascist occupation of 1941-1944. After the liberation of Bendery in August 1944, the temple was a pitiful sight. The church was plundered almost completely by the Romanian "liberators" - all property was stolen and taken out, from icons to benches. The total damage to the building and property of the temple, according to the inventory conducted in October 1944, was estimated at over 91 thousand rubles.
In 1947, the fortress church finally stopped serving and, by the decision of the military authorities, it was turned into a soldiers' club. In this capacity, it existed until 1994, when the Russian military missile unit was withdrawn from the fortress. The church building turned out to be abandoned and by 2007 had completely lost its roof and ceilings.
In 2008, on the basis of the Decree of the President of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic, the church building was transferred to the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Internal Affairs for reconstruction and its inclusion in a single memorial historical ensemble of the restored Bendery fortress. The completion of the reconstruction of the fortress church of Alexander Nevsky and its opening is scheduled for October 12, 2011, to be visited by His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Rus'.
The church of the 55th Podolsky Infantry Regiment also has its own history. Formed in the distant Ronchesalm, on the eve of the war with Napoleon, in 1811, like many regiments of that time, the Podolsky regiment went through the crucible of almost all significant wars waged by the Russian Empire on its territory and beyond. These are the Patriotic War of 1812, the suppression of the Polish uprising of 1831-1833, the defense of Sevastopol in 1855, the Russian-Turkish war of 1877-1878.
In 1888, the regiment, leading a nomadic lifestyle and never having had permanent apartments before, was assigned to a permanent place of deployment in the city of Bendery. Under him, the field church of the Savior Not Made by Hands constantly operated. Arriving in Bendery, the Podolsky regiment could not accommodate in the Bendery fortress. It was already occupied by the Largo-Kahul Reserve Infantry Regiment, so the companies and battalions of the Podolsk Regiment were deployed in all districts of the city, partly in Parkany and one company even in Tiraspol. Naturally, the regiment could not use the fortress church of Alexander Nevsky. In addition to the Podolsky Regiment, other regiments of the 14th Infantry Division regularly arrived in the city of Bendery from Chisinau and Tiraspol for training in the Camp Field, which remained in the city for a long time and also needed to attend services. The city’s Transfiguration Cathedral, which was functioning by that time, could not accommodate everyone, and, in addition, the soldiers and officers of the 14th division needed precisely “their own”, a military temple, where they could honor the memory of the dead and remember their heroic past.
In the same year, the commander of the Podolsky regiment, Colonel Rezvy Dmitry Modestovich, justifying his surname, began to “knock” at all authorities with a request to allocate land to the regiment in the city center for the construction of his own temple. His idea was supported by the head of the Bendery branch of the Kyiv gendarmerie department of railways Vyrubov, who personally submitted this petition to the City Duma. The following fact played a favorable role in making a positive decision in favor of allotment of land: in the petition, the gendarme official did not fail to note that the temple was being built in honor of the happy deliverance of the royal family during the train crash that happened in the same year at the Borki station. Under him, more than 20 people died, but none of the royal family was injured.
On October 10, 1889, the City Duma allocated a plot of land with an area of 600 square meters for the construction of a regimental temple. sazhens at the corner of Sofiyivskaya and Vladimirskaya streets (modern kindergarten No. 23, opposite the building of the Internal Affairs Directorate of the city of Bendery on Dzerzhinsky street). Simultaneously with its decision, the Duma allocated 1,000 rubles for the construction of the temple. Almost immediately, the collection of voluntary donations by the inhabitants of the city began. People donated quite significant amounts - from 500 to 5 thousand rubles. Those who could not give money contributed with building materials. Already during the construction of the temple, the city Duma in 1892 additionally allocated another plot of 300 square meters. sazhens for outbuildings. In 1899, the construction of the temple was completed, it was consecrated and from that moment became the official regimental church of the 55th Podolsk regiment.
In the annual reports of the head of Bendery, it was always mentioned that the serf Alexander Nevsky and the regimental Spasskaya were independent churches "with clergy from the military department." In addition to the military, residents of the nearby Protyagailovka and Khomutyanovka began to come to the newly built regimental church, the military priests did not prevent this. In the temple itself, military holy relics were kept, witnesses of the feats of arms of the Podillians during the defense of Shipka. On the walls, on marble slabs, the names of soldiers and officers of the regiment were carved, who laid down their lives while crossing the Danube, on Mount St. Nicholas, on the rocks of the Eagle's Nest.
According to the appendix “Estimates of income and expenses for 1913” for the city of Bendery, the costs of maintaining the regimental church are known: for renting premises - 431 rubles 25 kopecks, for heating and lighting - 143 rubles. 75 kop. Headquarters of the 55th Podolsky Infantry Regiment at Borisovka - 1560 rubles. 50 kopecks, the number of lower ranks at the headquarters - 107. For 1 company of the 55th Podolsky Infantry Regiment in the city barracks on the outskirts of "Kavkaz" 106 lower ranks - 1549 rubles.
The Church continued to operate even when the 55th Podolsky Infantry Regiment went to the battlefields of the First World War, from which it was no longer destined to return, at least in the old capacity of the heroic infantry regiment of the Russian Imperial Army.
From the moment the city was occupied in 1918 by the troops of royal Romania, the flow of parishioners fell sharply, and soon the regimental church was assigned to the Transfiguration Cathedral. Above, the damage inflicted on the fortress church of Alexander Nevsky was mentioned, but the damage caused to the regimental church was incommensurably greater. By the commission of 1944 it was estimated at 743 thousand rubles!
Already in Soviet times, the regimental church was transferred to a railway club, then to the jurisdiction of Moldknigtorg, the city stadium for a sports hall, and, ultimately, on January 2, 1965 of the last century, the building was demolished. Part of the relics from the regimental church was transferred to the Transfiguration Cathedral for storage, but most of them disappeared, and their fate is still unknown. A kindergarten was built on the site of the church, which is located on this site to this day (opposite the modern police building).
Unfortunately, good quality photographs of this church have not survived to our time. In one of the photographs, you can see that the roof of the church was crowned with a small onion-shaped dome, with a small belfry in front.
From the statistical description of churches by the military department in the city of Bendery, it is known that “the church of the 55th Podolsky Infantry Regiment in honor of the Image of Christ the Savior Not Made by Hands is a stone building, in the form of a cross, with a capacity for 500 people. Built in 1899 with private donations (about 35 thousand rubles). The Holy See of the Church is named in honor of the Right-Believing Grand Duke Alexander Nevsky. That is why these two military churches are very often confused, one of which was in the fortress and bore the name of Alexander Nevsky, and the second was in the city and its throne was also named after the Russian warrior prince.
Even in the act of inventory of the regimental temple of the 55th Podolsky regiment, located on the street. Sofievskaya, dated 1947, it is not called by its own name, but by the name of Prince Alexander Nevsky. Therefore, after getting acquainted with this act, I had to look for Sofiyivska Street for a long time and carefully on the old maps of the Bendery fortress, until, finally, it became clear that all the confusion was due to the same names of the fortress church and the throne of the regimental church.
It is known that a chapel was assigned to the fortress church of Alexander Nevsky in the military cemetery near the village. Borisovka. What it looked like and when exactly it was built is unknown. Some of the old-timers claim that it was built in the center of the military cemetery, while others claim that it was in its upper part, on the site of the current Prague store. When clearing the cemetery in 2007, employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs discovered a capital foundation in the middle part of the abandoned cemetery, judging by which the chapel was small, with an area of no more than 25 square meters. m.
The chapel was not in the full sense of the word a church, services in it were either not conducted at all or were conducted on major church holidays. Often military chapels could be presented not even as a building, but as some kind of monumental sign in the form of a cross or a small temple roof on props. Chapels were built, as a rule, on the battlefields or in places of military burials, in memory of those who are buried in this place.
During the construction of the military-historical memorial complex on the site of the military cemetery, in memory of all soldiers and officers, as well as in memory of the regimental church of the 55th Podolsky regiment that has not survived, a stone chapel was built on the territory of the memorial - a reduced copy of the temple on Poklonnaya Hill, which was named after the Image of Christ the Savior Not Made by Hands. As in the old heroic times, on the granite slabs placed on the walls of this chapel, the names of those who died during the assault on the fortress, the milestones of the Podolsky regiment, are inscribed. The names of those who died during the assault on the fortress in 1770 are also listed, a list of regiments of the Russian Imperial Army that took part in this assault is given.
This chapel has become so visited by residents and guests of the city that by the decision of the Holy Synod in 2010 it was given the status of a church. Currently, it, like the fortress church of St. Alexander Nevsky, is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, while the abbots in them were appointed by Decrees of the Bishop of Tiraspol and Dubossary Savva.
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