Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation: The Hermitage Museum & St. Catherine’s Parish
About Saint Petersburg:
Often called the Venice of the North, the city of Saint Petersburg was founded in 1703 by Peter the Great to be his “window on the west”. His goal was to change Russia from a feudal to a modern state.
It is perhaps best known for being the home of The Hermitage, one of the largest Museums in the world. Among its many priceless and famous collections is a painting of “The Madonna Litta” that some attribute to Leonardo da Vinci, but is more likely that of one of his students. It portrays the Virgin Mary nursing the baby Jesus, a popular theme in the early church. There is little doubt that this was a popular painting since it was copied extensively.
Of course most of the churches in the city, like the rest of the country, are Russian Orthodox rather than Catholic. As such they are not in communion with Rome.
Saint Catherine Catholic church in Saint Petersburg:
Catholic tour groups accompanied by a priest can schedule private Masses in advance, or you can join one of their regularly scheduled Sunday Masses in Russian, English, Polish or French.
The are two Masses daily in Russian on weekdays, but don’t let that dissuade from attending. It is still the Eucharist, regardless of the language, and it is often interesting to see how Mass is celebrated other than in your home country.
Click here for the Saint Catherine parish website. Then use “Google Translate” to translate in to English.
There are some Catholic tour companies offering pilgrimages that include St. Petersburg and another way to visit would be by taking a river cruise on the Volga River. Most of these go from Saint Petersburg to Moscow or the reverse, Moscow to Saint Petersburg.
Saint Petersburg has an international airport served by many airlines. In addition there is train service (about 4 hours) from Moscow to Saint Petersburg. There are also night trains if you want to save on the cost of a hotel room, taking about 8 hours, leaving around 10:00 p.m. as well as train service from other European cities. We recommend train travel wherever possible for independent travelers—it provides a real glimpse of the land and its peoples.
Note that Saint Petersburg has five train stations:
Baltiyskaya station: serving local suburbs
Vitebsky station: South-Western Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Germany, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary.
Ladozhskaya station: trains to North/ Northeast of Russia, Finland
Moskovskaya station: trains to Moscow, Northwest Russia, Urals, Siberia, Central and Southern Russia.
Finlayndsky station: trains to Vyborg, Karelia