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14  December 2017 - 18 February 2018

Moscow, Exhibition Hall of the Federal Archives

Organized by:
Federal Archival Agency, State Archive of the Russian Federation, Vatican Secret Archives
Federal Archival Agency, Russian State Archive of Ancient Documents, Russian State Historical Archive, Moscow Kremlin Museums, State Russian Museum, State Tretyakov Gallery, State Historical Museum, State Museum of the History of Religion, State Museum ‘Pavlovsk’, Historical and Documentary Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Vatican Secret Archives

The Moscow Kremlin Museums participate in the exhibition dedicated to the centuries-old history of the relations between Russia and the Holy See. On display are about 250 exhibits and archive documents from the leading museums and archives of Russia.

The Moscow Kremlin Museums gave on loan magnificent pieces presenting vivid evidence of the most interesting events and contacts of the Russian state with Rome.

There are several items related to the wife of the Moscow Grand Prince Ivan III—Sophia Palaiologina, the niece of the Byzantine Emperor Constantine XI Palaiologos and goddaughter of Cardinal Basilios Bessarion. That is the processional Korsun Cross, one of the most venerated relics of the Assumption Cathedral. According to the chronicle, embassy of the Byzantine Princess Zoe (later Sophia) Palaiologina came from Rome to Moscow with that cross in 1473. Precious icon of Christ the Saviour was probably brought to Moscow from Rome too and placed in the private room of Grand Princess Sophia.

Silver gilt pectoral icon of ‘Christ Pantocrator, the Twelve Apostles, Our Lady of the Sign, and the Selected Saints’ is a part of the sacred items of the Annunciation Cathedral, private chapel of grand princes and tsars in the Moscow Kremlin. It was apparently made by the order of Grand Princess Sophia. Exclusiveness of the design and a high-class execution of a silver gilt pectoral reliquary cross indicate that it was made by the special order between 1472 and 1479—the dates when the grand princely couple got married and their son Vasily was born.    

Printed publication ‘Polish-Russian News’ is a rare record of the Early European periodical press, covering the events of the final phase of the Livonian War—the third campaign of Stephen Báthory against Russia, siege of Pskov by the Polish-Lithuanian army and the results of the Treaty of Yam-Zapolsky, signed on 15 January 1582 between the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and Russia. Antonio Possevino (1534-1611) was chosen by Pope Gregory XIII to mediate between Ivan the Terrible and Stefan Báthory in the Treaty to bring them together, with the view of creating an alliance against Turkey and a secret mission of turning Russia to Catholicism.

Visitors will see the Cross of a Grand Master Jean Parisot de la Valette (1557-1568), which was acquired from the Treasury of St John Cathedral in Vallette. It was officially presented to the Russian Emperor Paul I during the ceremony of the Emperor’s consecration as the protector of the Maltese Order in the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg on 29 November 1797. Emperor Paul I appreciated the Order so much that he wore the Cross practically all the time and was even depicted wearing it on almost all his portraits.

 The exhibition will also present paintings showing views of Rome, Moscow and Saint Petersburg. Among them, there is the ‘The View of the Moscow Kremlin and the Kamenny Bridge’ by F. Ya. Alekseev—one of the founders of the urban landscape genre in the Russian fine art.