Russian Orthodox Cathedral
was founded in 1897. It is the oldest Orthodox Christian Church in Philadelphia,
At the end of the 19th and
in the beginning of the 20th centuries, immigrants from the Russian and
Austro-Hungarian Empires arrived in the United States. They founded ethnic communities
throughout the country. The centers of those communities were newly-built temples of God.
Our Cathedral started as the St.
Andrews Brotherhood that helped immigrants economically and spiritually. The
Brotherhood increased and gained strength with the arrival in Philadelphia of
representatives of the Russian Imperial Fleet, in 1898. At that time, a Philadelphian
shipbuilding company, Cramp & Sons, received a large contract from the Russian
government to build two battleships: a first rank cruiser, Variag, and an
Russian naval officers and sailors,
who arrived in Philadelphia, participated actively not only in the inspection of the
ships construction, but also in the life of the Russian community. They naturally
merged with the first parishioners of our Cathedral, made generous private financial
contributions, and donated beautiful sacred Icons. The Cathedrals Royal Gates and
the Altar are still decorated with Icons donated by the Retvizan crew.
In 1902, bishop Tikhon, the future
Patriarch-Confessor of Moscow and of all Russia, consecrated our Cathedral. Fr. Alexander Hotovitsky, who was
martyred during the years of Stalins terror, celebrated the first Divine Liturgy in
During its history, St. Andrews
Russian Orthodox Cathedral has experienced bad and good times. There were days when the
Cathedral stood almost empty, partly because the neighborhood had changed: the
Russian-speaking families moved to North-East Philadelphia and Philadelphias
suburbs. Just a few of the loyal parishioners kept the Cathedral alive.
Today our Cathedral is experiencing a
renaissance period. Several generations of Orthodox Christians from Russia, former Soviet
Republics, and Eastern European countries gather in it. With open hearts, they come to the
Cathedral in order to unite in the great mystery of the Divine Liturgy.
Andrews Russian Orthodox Cathedral will always be the heart and soul of the Russian
community in Philadelphia.
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