Saints Borys and Hlib Cathedral

Image - The SS Borys and Hlib Cathedral and the Chernihiv College. Image - The SS Borys and Hlib Cathedral (12th century) in Chernihiv.

Saints Borys and Hlib Cathedral (Borysohlibskyi sobor). (Photo: Saints Borys and Hlib Cathedral.) A cathedral built in Chernihiv in 1120–3 (or in the 1170s, according to some sources) as the family church and burial place of the Chernihiv princes. The cruciform, one-story structure had three naves, three apses, and six columns. Three burial niches were built into both the southern and northern walls of the narthex and the main circumference. Stairs to the choir balcony were built into the western wall. The façades had arching bands of ceramic decorations and a series of small decorative niches. The interior was decorated with light-colored frescoes and a colorful ceramic-tile and mosaic floor. Excavations have uncovered the remains of the gallery, fragments of two finely sculpted stone capitals, and the cornerstone of a portal with a teratological Romanesque carving depicting the pagan god Simarhlo as a dog-bird. The cathedral was rebuilt in the early 17th and again in the 19th century. From 1627 to 1659 it served as a Polish Dominican church. A campanile was added in 1672, and in the early 18th century the cathedral had five cupolas. It was heavily damaged during the Second World War and poorly restored in 1952–8 under the direction of Mykola Kholostenko. The ornate silver Royal Gates of the cathedral's 17th-century iconostasis are preserved in the cathedral.

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 4 (1993).]

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