Church of the Hodigitria Icon of the Virgin (1763), Southeast View, Kimzha, Russia


This southeast view of the Church of the Hodigitria Icon of the Mother of God, in the village of Kimzha (Mezen'skii District, Arkhangel'sk Oblast), was taken in 2000 by Dr. William Brumfield, American photographer and historian of Russian architecture, as part of the "Meeting of Frontiers" project at the Library of Congress. The village of Kimzha arose in the early 16th century, on the right bank of the Kimzha River, a tributary of the Mezen' River, which flows into the White Sea. In 1699, a lightning strike and an ensuing fire caused the destruction of the 17th-century Church of the Hodigitria Icon of the Mother of God. Work then began on the present church. Due to the village's meager resources, the church was consecrated only in 1763. It is the sole surviving example of a type of church distinctive to the Pinega River area, with a high "tent" tower (shatër) and cupola closely flanked by four cupolas on barrel (bochka) gables. The apse (on the right) has a similar gable. In the 1870s the church's durable larch logs were covered with plank siding, painted white with blue and green trim. At that time a bell tower was erected over the west porch. (An earlier bell tower stood on the riverbank.) Soviet restoration practice frowned on 19th-century plank cladding, and in the 1980s part of it was removed. Lack of funds halted the process. Since 1993, various attempts have been made to restore this unique monument, but with limited results.

Last updated: January 11, 2016