The relics of Kyiv Metropolitan Raphael Zaborovsky, which were considered destroyed by the Soviet authorities, were found in St. Sophia Cathedral

Works were carried out to perform architectural sounding of the tomb of Raphael Zaborovsky on the eve of the Day of Kyiv in the St. Sophia Cathedral of the National Sanctuary “Sophia of Kyiv”.  Until recently, it was believed that the bones of the Kyiv metropolitan were destroyed during the Soviet era, but the relics miraculously survived. A commission to canonize Raphael Zaborovsky has now been set up to preserve the memory of the man who presented Ukrainians with the “architectural face” of Kyiv. 

It was during the “Raphael Zaborovsky era” that masterpieces of architecture were laid, built or restored in Kyiv. These are St. Andrew’s Church, the bell tower of the Kyiv-Pechersk Monastery, the Old Academic Building of the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, the Greek St. Catherine’s Monastery in Podil, the bell tower and walls of St. Sophia, the Zaborovsky Gate and the Metropolitan Palace in the courtyard of St. Sophia Cathedral. 

“The construction works that took place in Kyiv under Archbishop Raphael can be compared in scale and significance only with the era of Hetman Ivan Mazepa. It is significant that right now we have solved the mystery and will be able to assess properly the contribution of both the Metropolitan of Kyiv and Ukrainian scientists. After all, they often preserved Ukrainian history and spirituality at the cost of their lives, ” said Oleksandr Tkachenko, Minister of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine.  

After his death, the body of Metropolitan Raphael remained incorruptible and remained open for inspection in the underground crypt of St. Sophia Cathedral. In the middle of the XIX century the entrance to the metropolitan crypt was closed with cast iron slabs. 

Until recently, it was believed that the bones of Raphael Zaborowski, stored in the reserves of the sanctuary, were destroyed during the Soviet era with the wording – “have no scientific value.” But research in recent months has completely refuted these notions. 

It is now known that in 1937 archaeologists discovered the tomb of Metropolitan Raphael. Items from his burial are now stored in the funds of the National Sanctuary “Sophia of Kyiv”. The study of archival documents left little hope that the relics of Raphael are still in Sofia. After all, the fact of removing the skull and bones of the deceased archpastor from the tomb is documented.  

And the excavations in 1937 were headed by Theodosius Movchanivsky. The scholar, who graduated from theological seminary and, according to some accounts, planned to become a priest, clearly understood that Metropolitan Raphael was one step away from canonization. Could such a person destroy the relics of a saint? Modern Ukrainian scientists have solved the mystery. Theodosius returned the relics to the crypt and walled up the tomb. Thus, he preserved the relics of the Metropolitan. Current scholars consider this act as a feat of an archaeologist. After all, in the 1920s and 1930s, the Soviet government destroyed everything connected with a church and spirituality. Movchanivsky himself was shot for anti-Soviet activities in 1938. 

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