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Novgorod Architecture / The Church of St Blaise

The Church of St Blaise

The stone Church of St Blaise was erected in 1407 on the site of a previous wooden church of the same name built in 1184. The street on which this older building stood was originally called Volosova and later renamed Vlasievskaya (Blaise). The Christian cult of St Blaise, the patron saint of animals, is known to have inherited many features of the pagan cult of Volos, or Veles, who was worshipped by the ancient Slavs as the protector of cattle. It is possible that an idol of Volos once stood on this spot and was later replaced by a wooden church dedicated to St Blaise. The present-day stone church is a typical specimen of early 15th-century Novgorodian architecture. It is a small, single-domed structure, square in plan, with the walls terminating in trefoil gables that correspond to the shape of the inner vaulting. The old vaulting and dome have not survived, but when the chureh was restored after the last war they were rebuilt in their original form. Careful study of the northern and western walls revealed traces of recessed portals with a pointed arch and these were also restored. The narrow, pointed windows were reconstructed with the help of survived fragments.