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Mosaic workshop in Alexander Nevsky Monastery creating icons of St. Petersburg saints


At present, draft designs are being made. The icons will be made by mosaic masters with special needs.

The mosaic workshop of the Alexander Nevsky Monastery will make icons depicting heavenly patrons of St. Petersburg. The project titled ‘Saints of St. Peter’s city’ will last several years. Mosaics will be made by masters with special needs. The icons, when ready, will be installed into wall niches of the Monastery buildings. Saint-Petersburg TV Channel reporter Maxim Lebedev was one of the first to see the draft designs.

The mosaic icons will depict Alexander Nevsky and his brother Feodor, new martyr Philosoph Ornatsky, who was the dean of the Cathedral of our Lady of Kazan, the Romanov Royal family and other St. Petersburg and Northwestern Russia’s saints.

‘This is a life-size sketch of the face.’

The icons will be made in the mosaic workshop of the Alexander Nevsky Monastery that has been functioning for a year already. They also make smalt for mosaics here.

Artist Mikhail Seletsky tells: ‘Marble of various colours will be used. The background should be muted, and the faces will be made of smalt, which we make here.’

Smalt is special glass melted in a furnace with metal oxides that give it various colours and tints. All of the masters that work with smalt are people with special needs. Fyodor Karavayev is one of them.

Fyodor Karavayev, mosaic master, explains: ‘I like drawing and singing. Why not try it if I can do it? I follow my imagination and inspiration.’

The mosaic workshop was established with the help of sponsors. Equipment and instruments were bought using subsidies for creating workplaces for people with special needs. The first icon made in the workshop was an image of Saint Nicholas the Miracle Worker.

Alexandra Serditova, executive director of the regional charity foundation for social rehabilitation and assistance for invalids, tells: ‘That icon was put up in the St. Nicholas the Wonderworker Church of the Alexander Nevsky Monastery and was highly commended. So we started thinking what else we could do to be of use.’  

This is how the idea to make icons of the heavenly patrons of the city for the monastery was born. When the cartoons are ready, mosaic masters led by professional artists will be putting together thousands of small pieces of smalt and stone into pictures.

Maxim Lebedev, reporter, tells: ‘The icons made by special people will be installed in the wall niches of the Feodorovsky and Seminary buildings of the Monastery. Making mosaic is a time consuming job, so the project is going to take several years.’

The first icon depicting St. Alexander Nevsky and his brother Feodor is planned to be completed at the start of the next year. It will be put up on the 800th anniversary of the Saint Prince.

Photo and video: St. Petersburg TV channel