St. Elias Church
Kyiv, 2 Pochainynska Street
+38044 425 2371;
+38044 425 2368
from 10 a.m. till 5 p.m.
St. Elias Church is the first Orthodox temple in the capital of Kievan Rus. According to the legend, the church of St. Elias the Prophet was built by Kyivan Princes Askold and Dir. Being the pagans, they witnessed divine miracle during the Byzantine campaign. Locals, led by the emperor and the patriarch, turned to God in prayer and dropped the icon plating of the Mother of God into the sea. Suddenly, a strong storm appeared and took down the ship of the Kyivan Princes. Having seen such a miracle, the Princes Askold and Dir decided to take baptism. After their return to Kyiv, they built the church of St. Elias.
It is believed that Christianization of Kyiv in 988 was carried out near St. Elias Church which is located on the banks of the Dnipro and Pochaina Rivers. Nowadays, only the name of the street reminds of Pochaina River, as the Dnipro River destroyed a narrow strip of land which separated two rivers.
In accordance with the facts, arising from “The Tale of Bygone Years”, we can assume that St. Elias Church was quite famous in the middle of the X c. Moreover, in 945 the divine service was celebrated in this church at the conclusion of a peace treaty between Kievan Rus and Byzantium.
Rumour says that previously the church was made of wood. Much later, in 1692, a stone church was erected on donations of the tradesman Peter Hudyma. It is known that for many generations the representatives of this family were church wardens of St. Elias temple.
The temple went through many trials which did not prevent it from further development.
After the fire in 1718, it was reconstructed in 1755 and the church dedicated to Beheading of St. John the Baptist was built.
A dormitory for students of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, located nearby, in the center of Podil, was constructed in the second half of the XVIII c. There were several dormitories of such type in Kyiv. All dormitories operated at parishes of Podil and made the so-called Mala Bursa (Small Seminary). Today, one of the buildings is used as a delubrum for baptism by immersion both for children and adults.
Most part of paintings in the interior was made after the fire 1811 in Podil. The previous paintings have been preserved only in the sanctuary of the temple.
In 1904 the temple complex was reconstructed and new icons were painted. In 1909 wall-painting was renovated – 42 icons, including the icon of Protection of the Blessed Virgin which was painted above the church entrance and survived up to this day.
In the 30s, after establishment of the Soviet power in Ukraine, St. Elias Church was closed and operated as a cornhouse. After the Great Patriotic War the belfry and Seminary (Bursa) were used as housing accommodations.
In 1954 partial reconstruction marked the beginning of the temple renewal. Church paintings were renovated in 1956-1958. Since 1960 church service has been performed until the present.