1910: Floating Church Ship

Translated: In 1910 the first steamboat-church was built in honor of St. Nicholas. The church was built on an English ship dating from the mid-19th century and the project was financed by merchants from Astrakhan. The floating church was used for missionary works in the Volga.

I'm wondering how big this boat was...
  • and they used an 1850s boat in 1910?
  • do we have any additional info on this?
Thanks for this
Our St Nicolas (Dutch santaclaus) arrives on a steam boat since 1850

I always thought there was a Russian connection being black Pete not a Surinam slave but a Ottoman or Turkish helper, but exept the St Nicolas being a saint in Russia I had no connection.

The writer of the above book also wrote political cartoons so I thought there was perhaps something political about this childrens book.
It was known that the celebration of St Nicolas was centuries long considered as a pagan fertility feast and he transformed it in a reformed Christian celebration for children.

I don't think this is coincidence.
Russian steamboats to celebrate st Nicolas and our St Nicolas on a steam boat.

Anyway 1910 seems a bit late in orthodox christian Russia to convert Russians.

Edit, this is the Russian Wikipedia story:Here

And More info
Last edited:
Excellent work jinxy. Here is the google translation

Quote from the translation:
  • In Russia, the idea of reaching remote villages by water appeared among Orthodox missionaries back in the Middle Ages, when large-sized vehicles were not used for these purposes. The priests conquered the expanses of the Russian north on the plows of merchants, with the Cossack freeman Ermak, or even alone. The tradition of building mobile churches has been entrenched since the end of the 19th century. after the decision of the tsar and the Holy Synod to introduce some technical innovations in the work on communicating the word of God. Thus, mobile churches appeared on the basis of a railway carriage and a steamer. First, in 1896, the carriage-church, built at the Putilov factory in St. Petersburg, was consecrated. Somewhat later, in 1910, the tug paddle steamer "Pirate", built in England in 1858, was converted into the floating church-steamer "Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker ".
  • The Floating Church was built on the money of the Astrakhan merchants on the initiative of the Astrakhan tradesman Nikolai Yankov, who in 1903 turned to the Astrakhan diocese on the issue of the lack of opportunity for the fishing population to fulfill their spiritual needs throughout the many months of navigation, when, in fact, they were cut off from outside world. In addition, at the turn of the XIX-XX centuries. hundreds of temporary and permanent fishing villages arose on the river banks. Naturally, churches in such villages were rare. And only almost five years later, the Cyril and Methodius brotherhood assembled a commission to consider the projects of the floating church, but due to the lack of the necessary amount of money for the construction of the ship, it was decided to buy a ready-made steamer and adapt it for a floating church.So the old wheeled tug, which had been burned out by the fire and already decommissioned, was purchased.
  • Simultaneously with the overhaul, the ship was converted into a floating five-domed church. There is information that not one, but two mobile churches were built then, one of which was collapsible. The second church was named in honor of the Holy Trinity, was 18 arshins long and 9 arshins wide. One of the churches in a powerful "iron building". Subsequently, the courts were rebuilt several times. And only one of them has survived. Nevertheless, most sources mention the floating church in honor of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker as the only floating church in the Russian Empire. An altar with an iconostasis made by the master Solomonov according to the drawing of the Astrakhan architect Koryagin was equipped in the lower nasal room of the church. In front of the iconostasis there was a lectern, on which the icon of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker was exhibited,revered not only by the Orthodox, but also by representatives of other faiths, he was especially revered among fishermen and sailors. By the way, the main function of the floating church was precisely missionary among the Kalmyk and Kazakh fishing population. The veneration of Nicholas the Wonderworker among Kalmyks is confirmed in one of the articles of the local historian Alexander Sergeevich Markov, where he talks about his very unusual acquisition. It was a subject that, at first glance, seemed to be related to a religious cult. It was metallic and had three divisions. At the top, the head of some Buddhist deity was embossed with a chisel, on the crown of which a lotus flower blossomed, in the center there is a square frame, the metal cut-out ornament of which was made up of lotus petals and buds.A bronze icon of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker was inserted into the deepening of the frame. The bottom of the frame is a kind of tail and legs.
  • After careful research of the outlandish object, it was found out that this is a Buddhist censer belonging to one of the Kalmyk catchers, who combined two deities from completely different religions. During the service, the Floating Church could accommodate up to 200 people and another 100 on the deck. There was a small box office near the cabin, where candles, icon lamps, icons of saints were sold. There was also a faucet where the believers took holy water. According to the compiled schedule, during the first and subsequent navigation, the church visited certain areas of the water area, which were approximately 50 versts apart from each other. In each place she stood for one or three days. From the beginning of the season until the fall, everyone was waiting for her arrival. Then the ship got up for the winter in the Astrakhan port in the Eling area or at the Admiralty backwater. The entire crew of the steamer, except for the captain and mechanic,consisted of clergy. They say that the ship withstood more than one storm and was never damaged. After serving five navigations, the Floating Church in the navigation of 1916 did not come out to the waiting people of the fishing people. By the fall of 1915, all icon cases, icons, church books, utensils were removed from the ship and transferred, according to some information, for storage in the Churkinskaya Nikolaevskaya Hermitage, but perhaps some of the most valuable icons could end up in some museum. It is known that some of the icons were donated by the fishing industry Sapozhnikovs and Bezzubikovs and had valuable salaries.deposited in the Churkinskaya Nikolaevskaya hermitage, but perhaps some of the most valuable icons could end up in a museum. It is known that some of the icons were donated by the fishing industry Sapozhnikovs and Bezzubikovs and had valuable salaries.deposited in the Churkinskaya Nikolaevskaya hermitage, but perhaps some of the most valuable icons could end up in a museum. It is known that some of the icons were donated by the fishing industry Sapozhnikovs and Bezzubikovs and had valuable salaries.
  • According to the manuscript of the local historian Pyotr Semyonovich Lebedev, in 1918 the Floating Church was turned into a sea rescue vessel with a postscript to the Baku port. But according to the Register, the ship did not go to sail at sea and was returned to Astrakhan at the disposal of Rybtrest. Then it was converted into a floating theater and placed at the disposal of fishermen, receiving the name "Joseph Stalin", and later "Moryana". In the 60s. it housed a hostel in the village of Oranzhereiny.

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