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Entries / Domestic Chapel (entry)

Domestic Chapel (entry)

Categories / Architecture/Architectural Monuments/Religious Architecture (see also Religion.Church)
Categories / Religion. Church/Places of Worship (see also Architecture and Urban Planning)

DOMESTIC CHAPEL, churches in private houses, palaces, state, military and public institutions, academic establishments, prisons etc. The first Domestic chapels emerged in St. Petersburg under Tsar Peter the Great in 1711, in the Palace of Tsarina Natalia Alexeevna; in 1715, in the Naval Hospital; a number of them were opened under Empress Catherine II: in 1764, at the Smolny Institute for Noble Maidens; in 1765, at the Academy of Fine Arts; in 1781, at the Municipal Almshouse; and in 1788, at the Boarding home. A great number of domestic chapels were set up in the late 19th-early 20th century; for instance: in 1897, in the Seventh gymnasium; in 1901, in a city children's home; in 1911, in the Railway regiment. During this period domestic chapels were organized in canteens, assembly and recreational halls (being separated with a sliding (folding) partition, usually having modest appointments). Domestic chapels accounted for 50% (in the 1760s) to 20% (in the early 19th century) of all St. Petersburg's churches. As a rule, they were affiliated to parish churches, did not have a parish of their own and did not occupy special buildings. Domestic chapels were not always orientated eastwards, sometimes lacked the alter conch, belfry and cross on the facade. However, the obligatory prerequisite for opening a domestic chapel was the absence of obscene establishments in the vicinity, in the basement or above the church. The tradition of setting up domestic chapels traces back to Muscovite Russia. The principal reason for opening them up was the impossibility of having a special sanctuary. In certain cases the establishment of domestic chapels preceded the building of conventional (parish or military) churches, being a milestone in their history. In the first half of the 18th century, the Holy Synod and the hierarch of St. Petersburg allowed private individuals to establish domestic chapels and take advantage of them solely in the case of the house owner's grave malady (until his recovery or death). In 1761, a greater part of these churches were closed down, subsequently their establishment required the Imperial sanction. The number of domestic chapels, in the possession of private individuals, steadily decreased from the mid-18th century, at the same time the number of such churches increased in state and public institutions, primarily in hospitals, charitable and academic establishments. Separate cubicles for different categories of convicts were arranged in prison churches, in hospitals, for contagious and non-contagious patients. For a long time, domestic chapels were most commonly used by Old Believers, and non-Orthodox confessors set up numerous chapels. In 1918, domestic chapels fell victim to a massive shutdown, first in state establishments, followed by academic institutions, almshouses and hospitals. Some domestic chapels were turned into parish ones. However, by the early 1930s, all of them were eliminated and their property confiscated. By the year 2003 domestic chapels functioned in prisons, hospitals, some academic institutions and official establishments.

Reference: Антонов В. В., Кобак А. В. Святыни Санкт-Петербурга: Ист.-церков. энцикл.: В 3 т. СПб., 1994-1996.

V. V. Antonov.

Catherine II, Empress
Natalia Alexeevna, Duchess
Peter I, Emperor

Антонов В. В., Кобак А. В. Святыни Санкт-Петербурга: Ист.-церков. энцикл.: В 3 т. СПб., 1994-1996

The subject Index
Smolny Institute
City Hospices
Boarding House of Education
Old Believers