St. Peter and Paul’s Cathedral

Dating: 19th century
Address: Avdiivska Street, 2
Categories: Lost places;
Epoch: the Imperial epoch;
Personalities: Mykola Vasylovych Gogol;
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Initially wooden — later stone — the cathedral was built in gothic style in the 18th century for catholic officers and was dedicated to the patrons of the local church St. Peter and Paul. The cathedral was destroyed during the city liberation from the Nazi regime.

At the beginning of the 18th century Ukraine lost its independence. In Nizhyn the authority gradually shifted to military commanders appointed by the Russian Tsar. After the unsuccessful Prut campaign, in which Peter I was nearly captured by the Turkish Janichari, in 1713 he organized local troops which defended the southern borders of the Russian Empire (now Ukraine) from the Tatar-Turkish troops. A lot of Catholic-officers, mostly Germans served there. To meet their religious needs at the beginning of the 18th century in the historical neighborhood of Nizhyn Ovdiivka (the Kyiv Gate) a wooden church was built. Since 1746 the church was located in a stone building. At the beginning of the 19th century a stone cathedral in the Gothic style was built there. Against the background of white houses with thatched roofs, sunflowers and rural streets near, the cathedral had an odd look and called association with the Middle Ages and the presence of elegant ladies and brave knights.

Since 1912 in St. Peter and Paul’s Cathedral served a Roman Catholic priest — Peter Avgustovich Baranovskii, who quickly settled down in the area and earned the best reputation not only among his parishioners, but also among the entire multinational population of Nizhyn. He financially supported the poorest members of the Polish community, saved Jews from the drunk with blood Denikin’s followers.

When in the spring of 1922 in the south of Ukraine and in the Volga a famine began, Nizhyn citizens sincerely helped the starving. To feed the unfortunate who had fallen into the arms of starvation and at the same time take money to fuel the world revolution, the Bolsheviks decided to withdraw jewelry from the churches.

So, on April 10, 1922, the golden plated and silver bowls, lamps, etc were taken from the cathedral. Oblates left the serving. All these were required for worship, that is why P. A. Baranovskii expressed dissatisfaction. Soon the priest disappeared in the Solovetsksi camps forever.

Since the late 30’s the country’s struggle with religion began. Along with the Orthodox churches, Jewish synagogues and Catholic churches were closed. The turn of Nizhyn St. Peter and Paul’s Cathedral came in 1930. It was closed and the building was transferred to the Medical Union.

For 11 years it was working for cultural-educational institutions.

On June 22, 1941 the Nazi air pirates appeared, and then the soldiers in the sinister gray-green uniform broke into Nizhyn. The Germans initially played footsie with the population of the city. Along with the Orthodox churches, St. Peter and Paul’s Cathedral was opened. Catholic, German, Italian, Hungarian soldiers prayed there. There also happened an amusing scene. Once an enraged policeman beat a drunken farmer, because he laughed when Hungarian soldiers kneeled while praying.

In September 1943, the "valiant" Fuhrer’s army began to "cut front." Buildings in Nizhyn were on fire. As was the Cathedral. Built for German Catholics at the beginning of the 18th century, it was destroyed by their descendants, who brought so much grief to our millennial city.

It is not excluded that the ingenious graduator of Prince Bezborodko's Gymnasium of Higher Learning Mykola Gogol was there and saw the magnificence of the Catholic liturgy. Perhaps memories of Nizhyn church he implied when he described the location in the immortal novel "Taras Bulba", where the misfortunate Andrii listened to the organ in a Polish cathedral: "At that time, the majestic roar of the organ suddenly filled the entire church. It grew thicker and thicker, grew larger, turned into a heavy thunder of thunders and then, suddenly turning to a heavenly music, rushed high in the vaults of his singing sounds, resembling thin girlish voices, and then again he turned into a thick roar and thunder and died down. And for a long time still the thundering rumbles rushed, trembling, under the arches, and Andrii marveled with his mouth half open with that magnificent music".

Author(-s): K. Deineka

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