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Church of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, Church of St. Nicholas the Merchants' Saint (Kolomna)

16 Lazareva Street, the Kolomna Kremlin, Kolomna.

The Church of St. Nicholas the Merchants' Saint is one of Kolomna Kremlin's oldest architectural monuments. In 1501, to mark the day of Amos the Prophet, the Church was covered with stone.

The Church's name comes from the fact that it was built using the funds of large merchants (in particular, the funds of Vasily Yuryev, a very rich merchant). Another theory has been suggested: the Church was named in the honour of the icon of St. Nicholas of Zaraysk, which, when the Mongols invaded the town of Zaraysk, stayed in Kolomna as a "guest" (the old Russian word for "merchant" also means "guest").

A copy, painted in 1513, of the Zaraysk icon was kept at the Church of St. Nicholas the Holy Hierarch. Later, it was moved to the Tretyakov Gallery.

A 1509 volume of the communion-table Gospel survived, written specially for this Church to a commission from the priest Pyotr Nikolsky. This book, written on paper, is kept at the Manuscript Department of the National Library of Russia.

The 1577–1578 Scrivener's Book (an official land register) was the first to refer to the Church by the name of St. Nicholas the Merchants' Saint.

In 1655, Patriarch Macarius of Antioch visited Kolomna and, because of the plague, stayed here for half a year, serving as a de facto bishop of Kolomna. At that time, the Church of St. Nicholas the Merchants' Saint was mentioned in the description of Kolomna written by Archdeacon Paul of Aleppo, the secretary of the Antioch mission.

In 1641, the Church was rebuilt; it was rebuilt again in 1751–1752.

In 1751–1752, a bell tower was built, and a carved stone plaque was attached, which contained the following inscription: "In the year 7009 [Translator's note: in the old Russian chronological system, equivalent to 1501 CE], in honour of the Holy Prophet Amos, this Church in the name of Saint Nicholas the Wonder-Worker was covered with stone at the time of Grand Prince Ivan, the blessed sovereign, and of Bishop Joseph of Kolomna, at the initiative of the Kolomna merchant Vasily Yuryev, the son of Ivan."

In 1811, the roofing was repaired and the main building was plastered, by the efforts of A. Shevlyagin. According to documents dating from 1843, the Church had a stone building with a bell tower and six bells.
The 1st, weighs 257 puds and 35 Russian pounds (around 4,224 kg or 9,312 lb), contains depictions of the Saviour Not-Made-By-Hands, Our Lady of the Joy of All Who Sorrow, the Holy Hierarch Nicholas the Wonder-Worker, and the following inscription: "This bell was cast for the Church of the Holy Hierarch Nicholas the Wonder-Worker, which is situated in the fortress of the town of Kolomna, during the reign of the sovereign Emperor Alexander II, when the flock was ruled by the Most Eminent Innocent, the metropolitan of Moscow, with the blessing of the Eminent Ignatius, the bishop of Mozaysk, under the priest Nikolay Rozov, by the efforts of the churchwarden Aleksandr Vasilyev, parishioners and voluntary donors, on 15 January 1874, cast at the works of N. Finlandsky, in Moscow, by the master Ksenofont Veryovkin."
2nd, 21 March 1753, weighs 53 puds and 33 Russian pounds (around 882 kg or 1,944 lb). The depictions on the bell: the Mother of God and St. Nicholas the Holy Hierarch.
The other bells do not contain any markings.

Konstantin Protopopov was the Church's priest at that time; he had graduated from Moscow Theological Academy. Among the Church's parishioners (451 people) were military officers, public officials, merchants, commoners (mostly), servants and peasants.

Since old times, the Church had a side-altar in the name of the icon of Our Lady of the Joy of All Who Sorrow.

The Church received its present appearance after it was rebuilt in 1848. Design drawings and photographs of the Church, taken before the 1917 Russian Revolution, have also survived to our day.

The main altar (in the name of St. Nicholas), the side-chapels:
1) in the name of Our Lady of the Joy of All Who Sorrow;
2) of Our Lady of the Sign (added in 1848).

The Church features a small square section dating from the earliest period, with a groined vault and a faceted apse.

In archives, it has been possible to discover new facts of the life of the famous Russian composer Aleksandr Alyabyev, related to the Church of St. Nicholas the Merchants' Saint.

On 24 April 1842, Alyabyev received an imperial order to move to Kolomna; the composer together with his wife went there on 16 May.

On 1 April 1843, Iosif, the son of Collegiate Counsellor Fyodor Sabinin, a Kolomna district doctor and a decoration holder, and his wife Lyubov Sabinin, was baptised at the Church of St. Nicholas the Merchants' Saint, in Kolomna Kremlin. The godfather and godmother were "Colonel Stefan Kanishchev and the 14th-rank civil servant, a member of nobility, Yekaterina Alyabyeva, born Rimskaya-Korsakova."

On 27 January 1887, the Metrics, i. e., a detailed description of the Church's architecture and relics, was drawn up. The main side-altar contained the church icon of St. Nicholas of Zaraysk. The refectory contained the icon of Our Lady of the Joy of All Who Sorrow (in the side-altar of the same name). One may suggest that this icon dates from around the time when the refectory was rebuilt in the 17th century. The Church also contained a restored icon of Our Lady of the Don, but, with this icon's board being old, it is possible that the newer image was painted over an older one.

The Metrics describes old crosses and a copper cup featuring the following inscription: "This cup was donated to the Church of St. Nicholas the Great Wonder-Worker by the Tsar's merchant Vasily Yuryev, in the year 7139 [Translator's note: in the old Russian chronological system, equivalent to 1631 CE], on 23 June." Besides these sacred objects, the Church also kept the following: a 19th-century memorial book and a carved image of the Afflicted Saviour, one arshin and a half (around 107 cm or 3.5 feet) long. The priest Nikolay Rozov participated in drawing up the Metrics. By that time, the father had already served at the Church for 20 years.

On 15 July 1929, the Presidium (the presiding body) of Kolomna City Council requested the Presidium of Moscow City Executive Committee (Moscow's government) to shut down the Church of St. Nicholas the Merchants' Saint, with its building to be used as a city library.

Father Vasily Radugin was the Church's last priest. He lived in a house situated opposite the Church. In the times of the persecution, the ancient architectural monument shared the fate of many Russian people. Old-timers recall that, in the early 1930s, a Gulag (Main Directorate of Corrective Labour Camps and Colonies) transit point was situated here. Hundreds of hard-working peasants, talented craftsmen, Russian priests and monks passed through these walls before disappearing in the depths of the Gulag.

On 10 November 2000, by a decree of Metropolitan Juvenal of Krutitsy and Kolomna, the priest Sergey Rogozhin was appointed the dean of the Church of St. Nicholas the Merchants' Saint; however, until August 2002, every Thursday and on the dedication days, prayer services were performed outside the Church, because the building housed a sports school.

The first divine liturgy inside the Church took place on 28 August 2002, on the Day of the Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God.

The Church received donations, which have been used for purchasing seven bells for the belfry built in 2005.

The roof over the refectory was repaired.

The Church has its revered sacred objects:
– an icon of St. Nicholas the Holy Hierarch of Radovitsy, with relics;
– relics of the Apostle Andrew the First-Called and of St. Peter (Iona), the metropolitan of Kiev;
– a wonder-working icon of St. Nicholas the Holy Hierarch, carved in wood.

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Church of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, Church of St. Nicholas the Merchants' Saint