The Assumption Cathedral in Mokva village
In the village Mokva at the end of X century the king Leon III erected the famous Cathedral of Assumption of the Mother of God. The Mokva’s Cathedral situated on a hill at the confluence of the rivers Mokva and Duab.
The Mokva Cathedral is the only in Abkhazia the five-naved cross-domed church. The Cathedral completes the development of early- medieval church architecture of Abkhazia, which began as far back as VII-X centuries in Pitsunda. The design and proportions of the Cathedral in Mokva are similar to Old Russian (St. Sofia’s in Kiev).
The Cathedral has an amazing interior decoration. There were rare frescoes, marble iconostasis with its columns and beautiful carved cornices. In the centre of the floor ornament was laid a red marble circle with the pattern in the form of descending rays. Patriarch of Jerusalem Dositheus who visited Mokva in 1659, found here the inscription, according to which the church had been "painted under the great Abkhazian King David,” i.e. at the end of XI –beginning of XII centuries.
The oppression and destruction
In 1640, the Mokva Cathedral visited Russian ambassadors and priest Pavel Zakhariev. In their report they wrote: "… on the ninth day of February, we were in a Monastery with Bishops Andrew and Maxim, they showed us the martyr Stephen Archdeacon: both hands were safe and leg bones and the Cross of the Tree on which Christ was crucified."
In the XVII century, when the Turks took of Abkhazia and were imposed Islam by force, the grand Mokva Cathedral was abandoned and pillaged. The floor ornaments and the iconostasis disappeared. Many treasures and relics were taken out of Abkhazia and spread to different places all over the world. Thus, the silver icon of Mokva Cathedral turned out in the Khob Assumption Monastery, the ancient Gospel and the Psalter of XI century on parchment reappeared in Martvil monastery, the Archbishop's crosier got to the Mtskheta Cathedral.
In the XIX century the road to the temple had to run through the dense virgin forests. The well-known academician M. Brosse, who visited the Mokva Cathedral in 1848, wrote: "A vast sizes of the church building, enmeshed in creepers, its roof was turned into a hanging garden, and a beautiful dome elongated by high trunks of he trees - all of these will astonish the viewers. But, the fragments of stained glass, the pieces of the cornices with admirable carving, and the destroyed church porches will distress them."
In 50 years of the XIX century the church was repaired, the floor was paved with limestone slabs again, from the west was erected a chapel, and a small rotunda was built in the dome. As a result of the restoration suffered heavily the outside of the church – disappeared a carved cornices and a tiled roof was replaced by the iron one. Inside the temple, the walls were covered with plaster, and the murals and mosaics in the altar were whitened. At the same period the Cathedral was turned into a burial vault. It is there were buried the last dukes of Abkhazia Mikhail Shervashidze, his son George, a poet and a public figure, and many Abkhazian military commanders.
Revival of the Mokva Cathedral
In 1902, the nuns from Bogodukhov Monastery of the Kharkov Province founded the Caucasian (Mokva) Assumption Convent, and in 1920 the church was pillaged again. It was abducted and the valuable Gospel, belonged to Mokva Archiepiscopal Cathedra was taken abroad; the Gospel ha been written on 328 pages and decorated with unique miniatures and ornaments, made by Mokva monk Ephraim under Archbishop Daniel of Mokva in 1300. In the 80s of XX century the Mokva Gospel was returned to the USSR.
In 1968, was widely observed a thousandth anniversary of Mokva Cathedral. It had been partially restored by that date.
In 2002, the Mokva Cathedral of Assumption was re-opened. At the official opening were served the Vigil and the Divine Liturgy.
Today, the services at the Mokva Cathedral are rare, but the temple doors are always opened to visitors.
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