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St. Petersburg

The Church of Saint Pantaleon the Healer

With a view to encourage and promote sailing among residents of St. Petersburg, in 1718, Peter I ordered to build a civilian shipyard at the source of the Fontanka River, opposite the Summer Garden to build small ships for civilians. Intended for workers of the shipyard, a wooden chapel dedicated to St. Pantaleon was erected at the same time.

A church to replace the chapel was conceived by Peter I to commemorate Russia’s naval victories in the Northern War, with the most prominent being the battles of Gangut and Grengam.

Peter believed Russia’s victory at the Cape of Gangut to be as important as that in the Battle of Poltava. It has enabled the Russian fleet to freely operate in the Gulf of Finland and the Gulf of Bothnia and support ground troops in Finland. It was the first major victory by the fleet which the Tsar was attached to, and he himself participated in the battle. The victory at Grengam put an end to Sweden’s unchallenged dominance of the Baltic Sea and accelerated the signing of the Nystad Peace Treaty in 1721, which marked the end of the Great Northern War. Both victories took place on the feast day of Saint Pantaleon on July 27 in 1714 and 1720, respectively.

Initially, a wattle and daub church in Petrine Baroque style was built to the design of Nikolai Gerbel on the bank of the Fontanka River. The street where the church stood was called Panteleimonovskaya, and the neighboring bridge across the Fontanka was also named after the church.

Under Empress Anna Ivanovna, the church acquired an appearance close to what it looks like nowadays. The construction of a stone church to the design of architect Ivan Korobov began by order of the Empress in 1736 to replace the old dilapidated one. The new church was consecrated on July 27, 1739.

In 1834–1835, the interiors of the church were redesigned in late Empire style by architect Vikenty Beretti. The interior decorations and marble bas-reliefs on the façade by sculptor Andrei Loganovsky date from the 1840s.

The church was extended several times. A chapel in the church narthex on the side of Panteleimonovskaya (currently Pestelya) Street was built in 1875, and a side chapel in the name of Holy Faithful Prince Mikhail of Chernigov and his Boyar Fyodor was erected in the northern portion in 1895–1896. This appearance survived to this day.

The St. Pantaleon Church has one high dome. Its architectural elements, such as the figured rounded pediment over the altar area, a high faceted dome on the octagonal drum, and a bell tower with a spire, are typical of the 18th century style. Some of the outstanding features are the shaped window casings and the two-tone color.  

A thanksgiving prayer service dedicated to the victory at Gangut was held on the feast day of Saint Pantaleon every year.

The church underwent restoration in 1910 – 1912. In 1914, marble plaques listing the military units that fought in the battles of Gangut and Grengam were installed on the facade of the building on the initiative of the Imperial Russian Military Historical Society.

In 1935, the church was closed, the memorial plaques were dismantled, and the building began to be used as a warehouse. In 1946, a memorial to the defenders of the Hanko Peninsula (which was previously known as Gangut) during the Second World War was built opposite the church. The memorial plaques were reinstalled in 1954. In 1981, the building was given to a branch of the Museum of the History of Leningrad “The Glory of Gangut”.

In 1991, the church was returned to the eparchy. The façades and domes were refurbished in 2002 – 2003 and the paintings were restored in 2007.

 

The Church of Saint Pantaleon the Healer