Home: Russische Gedächtniskirche
Saint Alexi Memorial Church in Leipzig
is a unique and remarkable sight of Leipzig. It was built up in commemoration of the 22 thousand Russian warriors who fell on German soil in 1813.
The decisive battle at Leipzig went down in history under the title «Battle of Nations». In this battle the Russian army set out against Napoleon in alliance together with Prussian, Austrian and Swedish armies. Here by Leipzig, 1813 one hundred thousand soldiers found an eternal peace together with the fallen soldiers of Napoleon. Until 1913, for about one hundred years, huge long hills – mass burial places - dominated the city of Leipzig. To commemorate the centennial of the battle at Leipzig a memorial complex, the monument to the Battle of Nations, was erected instead of a cemetery. The emperor Wilhelm II proposed erecting a Statue of Victory, in honor of the Russian warriors as well. But much closer to a Russian tradition was the notion of a living monument where it would be possible to remember the glorious heroes, as well as to pray for their eternal rest. Thus, this wonderful single-cupola tent-shaped church in the 16th century style appeared. The exterior of it resembles a monument and its interior remains a church. The whole construction and decoration works were done according to the project of Vladimir Pokrovski by Russian building workers who had come to Germany for the purpose. The work has been done in eight months time.
Inside the church, there is the seven-row iconostasis which is a donation of the Don Cossacks. It is the work of a Moscow painter Emelianov, a disciple of the famous Russian artists Vasnetsov, and is 18 meters high. Eighty-seven icons construct a wonderful example of the old Russian iconpaiting tradition. There are three gates in the Altar behind the iconostasis. The central is colled the Royal Gate, and is opened by the clergies at a certain moment of a worship. In the bottom row, on the right of the Royal Gate, there is an icon of the Savior. On the left side there is an Icon of the Mother on God. The icon of Savior is a copy of the Byzantine original of the 4th century, and the icon of the Mother of God is a copy of the miraculous image, which is called the icon «Smolenskaya Mother of God». In front of this icon Russian Marshal Kutuzov and his army prayed on the eve of the battle against Napoleon at Borodino (1812). This icon is kept up to now in the city-cathedral of Smolensk in Russia. To the right of the icon of the Savior the icon of the patron-saint of the church: St. Alexis, Metropolitan of Moscow. His memory is solemnly celebrated on October 18. To the left of the icon of the Mother of God there is an icon of St.Nicholas. These are two icons (of St.Alexis and St.Nicholas) with the «vita» - that is small paintings bordering the main image with the fragments of the most wellknown events in the lives of these saints. In front of the iconostasis are Cossack banners resembling traditional church banners. They were brought here by Cossack regiments during the battle, and 100 years later found a place in this church. To the left of the entrance you can see a carved oak icon-case with the icon of St. George, which was presented to the by Orenburg and Ural Cossacks. On the walls there are eight memorial plates holding a complete list of the Russian military units, which took part in the Battle, as well as their names 100 years after - as of the day of the inauguration of the church.
The church is lightened by a bronze chandelier. It's 68 lampshades were made of pure transparent Ural jasper. The chandelier was presented to the church by the Russian Parliament (Duma) in 1916. After the Second World War a glass lamps to imitate jasper were installed. Near the right wall, there is a sarcophagus - a symbolic tomb with a Shroud of Jesus Christ. On Good Friday it is placed in the center of the church.
Outdoors, on the opposite side of the church there is a small crypt. A burial vault holding the remains of the Russian soldiers. who died in the Battle of Nations. In the crypt a small row of icons is arranged in front of which an oil-lamp is constantly burning in commemoration to the buried. On the walls of the crypt you can see the portraits of Russia Emperor Alexander I, Marshal Kutuzov, and two other officers, who are hurried here. Near the portrait of Kutuzov is a Russian flag and a soldier's rifle, which was found when the graves were opened for reburial.
As you were approaching the church you must have noticed that there is another front door. This is the entrance to the lower church.
The Memorial church serves nowadays as a center of orthodox congregation of Leipzig. The worships are to be conducted in it each Sunday at 10.00 a.m.
The church choir deserves special attention. It is not very large, hut is singing professionally and during a worship you can hear classical spiritual songs in all beauty. The church houses as well a small library and the administrative premises.
Concluding this short review about the church our congregation cordially welcomes you as visitor to our historic, cultural and religious center in a beautiful city of Leipzig in Germany.