Elias Church

Elias Church is possibly the first Orthodox church of Kievan Rus. The first mentions of it occur even before the Baptism of Rus’. The Tale of Bygone Years says that in 945, when the Kyiv ambassadors, after concluding an agreement with the Byzantine Emperor Roman, returned to Kiev, accompanied by a Greek delegation, a divine service was held in: “… the Church of St. Elijah, just above the stream… it’s a cathedral churches, many bo besha Varyazi Christians.” According to legend, the Church of St. Elijah was built by the Kyiv princes Askold and Dir. Being pagans, the princes launched a campaign against Constantinople. Defending themselves from enemies, the townspeople, led by the emperor and patriarch, turned to God in prayer and lowered the robe of the Mother of God into the sea. Further, the chronicler narrates that a storm that came out of nowhere sank the ships of the Rus. Having seen such a miracle, princes Askold and Dir were baptized and, returning to Kyiv, built the Church of St. Elijah. There are suggestions that the Baptism of the Kievites in 988 took place precisely near the Church of St. Elijah, located in Podol on the banks of the Dnieper and Pochayna rivers. This place was the most convenient for the baptism of a large mass of people, because after baptism the neophyte must be introduced into the church. Princess Olga also prayed in the Church of St. Elijah.

What the church originally looked like, no information has been preserved, as well as information about when, by whom and under what circumstances it was destroyed. In 1692, with donations from the tradesman Peter Gudima, a stone church building was built in approximately the same place. In the first half of the 18th century, a two-tier bell tower was built and church gates were installed in the Ukrainian Baroque style, made by the Kyiv architect Ivan Grigorovich-Barsky (also designed Pokrovskaya church and reconstructed Church of the Virgin Pirogoshhi). In 1718, the church was damaged during a fire, so in 1755, the regimental captain Pavel Ivanovich Gudima carried out a reconstruction of the temple, during which the St. John the Baptist chapel was completed.

In the 19th century, the Elias Church had only 16 households under its jurisdiction; the number of parishioners at that time was about 150 people. The fire at Podol in 1811 caused significant damage to the structure, after which further repairs were carried out. In 1887, on the initiative and at the expense of the church elder, the cast-iron floor was replaced with a warm wooden one and steam heating was installed. In 1904, the temple complex was overhauled and new icons were painted. In 1909, the Elias Church was renovated again. The wall paintings (43 images) were updated, and the image of the Intercession of the Most Holy Theotokos, which has survived to this day, was painted under the choir above the central entrance to the temple.

In the 1930s, the Church of the Prophet Elijah was closed by the Soviet authorities and transferred to the Kyiv elevator for grain storage. The church was opened during the Great Patriotic War and since then to this day services have been held in the temple. In the 1990s, the façade of the church and the adjacent premises were restored, a new iconostasis was made, and a Sunday parochial school and baptismal center were opened. The church runs a Sunday school for adults and children. Divine services are accompanied by two singing groups: the choir of students of the Kyiv Theological Academy and the youth choir of the temple.

Where is Elias Church?

Pochaininskaya street, 2
(044) 425-23-71
services: morning 08:00, evening 17:00, sun 07:30, 10:00, 16:00