Erzia International Art Foundation will donate a copy of the statue of John the Baptist to the museum of the Trinity-Sergius Lavra. The solemn transfer ceremony will take place on July 7 at 12:00 in the Elizabethan Hall of the Historical and Archaeological Office of the Moscow Theological Academy. The event is timed to coincide with the Nativity of the glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord John.
The ceremony will be attended by Mikhail Zhuravlev, President of the Erzia Foundation, Vyacheslav Bobryshev, First Vice President of the Foundation, Elena Butrova, Vice President for Science, as well as philanthropist Sergei Puntus, Rector of the Moscow Orthodox Academy, Bishop Feodorit of Zvenigorod, Director of the Historical and Archaeological Office Anton Novikov.
The celebration will take place on July 7 on the day of the Nativity of John the Baptist at the address:
Sergiev Posad, Trinity-Sergius Lavra, Moscow Theological Academy.
About the history of the statue
Russian-Italian project of the Erzya Foundation “Way of the Baptist. The History of the Statue of the Prophet and Forerunner of the Lord from the Church of Cristo Re in Fezzano” (2011) was dedicated to the “cross” year of Italy and Russia, as well as the 135th anniversary of the birth of Stepan Erzya.
The first part of the project is devoted to the fate of the statue of John the Baptist, created by the sculptor in 1914 by order of the famous Russian émigré writer Alexander Amfiteatrov. After moving from France to Italy, Erzya lived at Amfiteatrov’s villa in Fezzano near La Spezia and Carrara, working on commissions from local art lovers. The figure of the Baptist, made by Erzei from reinforced cement, was donated by the Amphitheater to the Cathedral of Cristo Re in Fezzano. On March 14, 1914, the statue was consecrated and solemnly placed in a niche above the main entrance to the church. As the priest of the church, Giuliano Canossa, recalled, she soon became loved and revered by the local parishioners. Over time, under the influence of dampness and temperature fluctuations, the work began to deteriorate, and in the 1960s it was dismantled. In its place was placed a statue of the Baptist by an Italian sculptor. John the Baptist, created by a Russian master, was forgotten for a while. Thanks to the care of the rector of the Church of Parocco, the statue of the Baptist Erzya was hiding behind the thick walls of the room for church utensils.
In 2005, the foundation’s partner in Italy, Slavist Marcia Dati, identified the forgotten sculpture and reported her find to Elena Butrova.
The statue of John the Baptist was in poor condition and required the urgent intervention of specialists. In 2008, the S. Erzya Foundation decided to finance its restoration. It took almost a year to coordinate the actions of the foundation with the owner of the statue, the Vatican, who entrusted the restoration to a professor from Florence, Daniele Angelotto. On March 11, 2011, the sculpture was returned to the cathedral and placed in a special niche at the entrance.
Before the start of restoration work in the workshops of Pietrasanta, the mold was removed from the statue, from which two casts of the statue were subsequently made. In March 2011, one of them was donated by the Erzya Foundation to the Museum of Diocesan Art in La Spezia and was exhibited at the exhibition next to other images of John the Baptist from the museum’s collection. The authors of the casts were Augusto Giufredi, professor at the Milan Academy of Brera and Naples, and Simona Vizzoni, professor at the Carrara Academy of Fine Arts.
In June 2011, in Genoa, whose heavenly patron is John the Baptist, the Museum of the Diocesan Cathedral of San Lorenzo hosted the next stage of the cultural project “Way of the Baptist”, dedicated to the restored work. Of particular importance was the holding of the action under the auspices of the cathedral, in which for many centuries a particle of the relics of the prophet, revered by all Christians of the world, has been kept.
On the birthday of Stepan Erzya on November 8, in Carrara, a solemn opening of a memorial plaque took place on the house of the Garibaldi boarding house on Santa Maria Street, where S. Erzya lived in 1914, and an exhibition of works from the collection of the Erzya Foundation was held in the 14th-century baptistery at the Cathedral of St. Andrea.
The second cast of the statue of the Baptist was brought to Moscow in the fall of 2011 and exhibited in the Historical and Archaeological Office of the Moscow Theological Academy in the Trinity-Sergius Lavra among the shrines of Orthodox art, and in February 2012 it was seen at an exhibition in the Russian State Library. In the period from 2012 to 2022 inclusive, the statue of the Prophet was exhibited at all exhibitions organized by the Foundation and its partners in different cities and regions of Russia.