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The Church of St. Simeon the God-Receiver (1467)

The Church of St. Simeon the God-Receiver in the Zverin monastery. 1467This church is visible from the right bank of River Volkhov if viewed from the Antoniev monastery. It stands on the other side of the river along with other churches of the 14th - 16th centuries, blending naturally into their styles. In the old days this territory served as the game-preserve of Novgorod princes and was used for hunting. Hence the name of the Zverin (Animal) monastery which was later established here, at the northern edges of old Novgorod.

The Church of St. Simeon the God-Receiver was constructed in 1467 on the place of a mass grave of Novgorod citizens who had been killed by the plaque. Before that a wooden church built on a vow in one day with the purpose of "stopping the great pestilence,"had stood on that spot. The external shape of the church is typical for the 15th century: it is of cubic shape, single-domed, with only one apse. But a second look reveals that the church's structure is not so elemental. First of all the church has two stories, a feature similar to Moscow churches of that period. But the most peculiar aspect is the church's wall painting which has lasted until the present day.

Archbishop Iona. Fragment of the wall-painting from the Church of St. Simeon the God-receiver . 15th centuryThe altar and the cupola parts are decorated in a traditional way, the western wall near the entrance features figures of the "triumphant" type, but the rest of the paintings are quite unique, having no analogues in Russian monumental painting.

The walls, the columns and the arches are covered with small-sized bust images of saints made in the manner of miniature pictures (with the use of tempera paints, unusual for fresco painting). Each day of the year corresponds to a figure of a saint, in other words representing a peculiar calendar. To see them all one should start with the figure of Simeon the God-Receiver, his day being September 1, when the New Year was celebrated in medieval Russia. Each of the Novgorodians buried in the mass grave had a patron saint displayed in the church.

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