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Ukrainian Baroque Glory: St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery

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Located in Upper Kyiv, Ukraine, on the right bank of the Dnieper River and overlooking Podil, the Old Town quarter of the capital, a majestic monastery glistens across the horizon. This is St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery, dedicated in name to the Archangel Michael, who is also the patron saint of Kyiv. St. Michael’s Golden Domed-Monastery is a fantastic sky blue, perfectly contrasting with its brightly gilded golden domes, each one crowned with the universal emblem of Lord Jesus Christ’s great sacrifice, the cross.

As it is seen today, St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery was fully completed on May 28, 2000. The side chapels, of Saint Barbara and Saint Catherine of Alexandria, were consecrated in 2001. The monastery became the headquarters of the newly formed Orthodox Church of Ukraine in 2018 and is a primary sanctuary of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyiv patriarchate.

Rebuilding and expansion of the main church of St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery continued into the 18th century, primarily in the Baroque style, the most notable being six additional gilded cupolas. The reconstruction that occurred at the end of the 20th century retained the Baroque-style plan, and its Byzantine design aspects remain only in the interior.

Initially invoking a feeling of power and awe, St. Michael’s is a gracious piece of architecture, with its Corinthian columns and pylons of sturdy beauty and the six magnificent octagonal drums with narrow arched windows supporting the monastery’s crowning glory, its namesake: the gilded gold domes. The inside walls and arched passageways are adorned with copies of original frescos depicting various Christian scenes. Numerous angels, saints, kings, and queens from Ukraine’s past occupy almost every part of the walls, ceilings, drum, and central dome at the cathedral of St. Michael’s. All are augmented by wooden baroque style icons and lavish gilding.

St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery remains today a strong, beautiful, and enduring symbol for all Ukrainians, a people with both strong faith and determination.

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