The Hermitage handed over to the Russian Orthodox Church a silver reliquary of the relics of Alexander Nevsky

The Hermitage handed over to the Russian Orthodox Church a silver reliquary of the relics of Alexander Nevsky

On September 8, the State Hermitage transferred to the Alexander Nevsky Lavra in St. Petersburg a silver tomb in which the relics of the holy Prince Alexander Nevsky were kept. The relics themselves were handed over to the Church in 1989, but since 2000, believers have been demanding the return of the tomb as well – an outstanding work of art that has been kept in the Hermitage for more than 100 years. The Ministry of Culture issued an order on the transfer of relics of the Russian Orthodox Church in May 2023.

As reported in the Hermitage, the transfer of the monument was agreed upon by the Ministry of Culture and the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia. It will be in the Alexander Nevsky Lavra under a temporary storage contract for 49 years with the possibility of extension. At the same time, the relic remains part of the Museum Fund of Russia, and the Hermitage will continue to be responsible for its preservation.

The silver tankard, in which the relics of the saint were previously kept, was made by jewelers in 1742 and consists of several parts. The total weight of the product is about one and a half tons. It was requisitioned from the Lavra in 1922 and has been kept in the museum since then.

Employees of the Museum of Urban Sculpture, which previously occupied part of the premises of the Lavra, warned that the condition of the building raises questions about the possibility of installing such a heavy exhibit there due to the weakness of the wooden floors.

The director of the Hermitage, Mikhail Piotrovsky, also admitted that the monument needs special storage conditions. “Since people need it, we decided to hand over the tomb complex to the church. It is important to us that this monument be in good condition, be accessible to people and fulfill its functions. However, this thing is very fragile. The contract prescribes a whole set of rules that must be followed. “The state of the monument is being monitored daily. Every day, I will receive information on my desk, we are simply expanding our exhibition space,” he noted.

  • Recently, at the insistence of the Russian Orthodox Church, the Ministry of Culture transferred to her a number of important works of religious art stored in museums. This was often objected to by art historians and restorers, who believe that the Church will not be able to ensure the safety of antiquities that require special storage conditions.
  • The most famous event was the transfer of the ROC icon of Andrei Rublev “Trinity” – one of the main monuments of ancient Russian art. Specialists in icon painting and restoration, including from the Church itself, pointed out that the relic is in a dilapidated state and can only be kept in museum conditions. Nevertheless, by order of the Ministry of Culture, in July 2023, “Trinity” was handed over to the Russian Orthodox Church.

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