The appearance of the side chapel of St Varus the Martyr is connected with the late history of the Archangel Cathedral. The side chapel was originally built in the Kremlin's earliest Church of the Nativity of St John the Baptist, located not far from the Botovitskaya Tower Gates. The side chapel was founded on the occasion of the birth of the younger son of Ivan IV, Tsarevich Dmitry - on 19 October 1582, the feast of St Varus. From that time until the beginning of the 20th century St Varus was especially venerated. The faithful prayed to the saint for the health of children of tender age.

In the middle of the 19th century it was decided to demolish the old church. The Throne and the property were moved to the Borovitskaya Tower and the Church of the Nativity of St John the Baptist was set up there. The side chapel of St Varus, the 4th-century martyr, was transferred to the Archangel Cathedral and placed in a small side chapel built in the north-eastern part of the cathedral. The iconostasis dedicated to St Varus was also placed there. They are currently exhibited in this space.

The icon of St Varus the Martyr – the most venerated and, according to the cathedral tradition, the most miraculous – is of great interest. The people of Moscow worshipped the icon and "often flocked there in considerable numbers with their sick children". It was painted in the 18th century and depicts St Varus as a soldier-martyr. It is noteworthy that the staff of the Cathedral of the Archangel understood the value of this icon already in the middle of the 19th century. As a result, in the middle of the 19th century an exact copy was made and the cover of the old icon was put on a new one. Besides, two other icons of rare iconography were painted – "St Varus" with Life Scenes and "The Appearance of St Varus to Cleopatra".

A new page in the history of the side chapel was turned at the beginning of the 21st century. When the architectural reconstruction was finished, with the blessing of the Patriarch it was decided to display the relics of St Euphrosyne of Moscow (Grand Princess Eudocia). For this purpose a new shrine for the relics of the Saint was made by master V.V. Rusakov based on the project of Y.P. Mosunov. It was similar in form and design to the shrine of St Euphrosyne, which was located in the Ascension Cathedral of the Ascension Convent in the second half of the 19th century and was lost when the monastery was demolished in 1929. The solemn transfer of the relics took place on 28 May 2008. They were placed in the centre of the side chapel. On the south wall there is a special display case with the white sarcophagus of the widow of Grand Prince Dmitry Donskoy, in which the relics were kept for 600 years.


Learn more about the exposition in the side chapel of St Varus on our thematic site