Ioanno-Bogoslovsky/St. John the Evangelist Temple

Stanislav Krasilnikov/TASS
The starting point of our walk is on Demokraticheskaya Ulitsa (formerly known as Pervaya Bogoslovskaya Ulitsa), where the Church of St. John the Evangelist is located. This is one of the few architectural landmarks of the Mordovian capital dating back to the seventeenth century. The church, which is open to the public, was built in the style of Moscow or Naryshkin Baroque (named after the style of estates of the Naryshkin family) in 1693, almost 50 years after the founding of Saransk. Back then, this was the Streltsy Quarter (the Streltsy, literally “shooters”, were units of Russian infantry). In 1711 a refectory and a bell tower were added to the main church building. Local historians claim that the spot on which the present church stands was previously occupied by an older, wooden church.

There is also a smaller Church of the Epiphany on the premises of the main church, but this is a modern building. When the Diocese of Saransk and Mordovia was formed in the early 1990s, the Church of St. John the Evangelist became the centre of the new eparchy. The first written evidence of the adoption of Christianity by the local Mordva people dates from the sixteenth century. The first to adopt the Orthodox faith were the local elite, and by the mid-eighteenth century the conversion of the Mordva people was more or less complete.