The Pogosyan Grachya Charitable Foundation

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A present for the 120th anniversary of the Russian Museum and 160th anniversary of the birth of Grand Duke Constantine Romanov

This year Grachya Pogosyan, the St. Petersburg philanthropist, has supported the work of the International Youth Poetry Competition named after Constantine Romanov.

In 2018, the poetic competition conducted under the auspices of the Russian Museum and the St. Petersburg Writers' Union was dedicated to the 160th anniversary of the birth of Grand Duke Constantine Romanov, the Day of Slavic Writing and Culture and the 315th anniversary of the founding of St. Petersburg. One more event took place in the Marble Palace – a mosaic image of Saint Constantine the Great, Equal to the Apostles, was restored upon the initiative and at the expense of the Grachya Pogosyan Charitable Foundation. That image embellished the yard facade of the Palace in the times of Constantine Romanov, its last owner. 
Two years ago the philanthropist joined the Friends of the Russian Museum society having sponsored the issue of the collection of poems by the laureates of the 6th International Youth Poetry Competition named after Grand Duke Constantine Romanov. It was when Sergei V. Lyubimtzev, Head of the branch of the Russian Museum, told him about the history of the palace and about the icon of St. Constantine that was once a part of the decoration of the palace. The image was lost in the 30s of the last century. For a long time the administration and the staff had dreamt that the Marble Palace would obtain it again one day until Grachya Pogosyan came to them…
This year the philanthropist has not only sponsored the issue of the anniversary collection of poems “The candle was burning on the table…”, but knowing of the long-nurtured dream of the Palace’s staff, he decided to make a gift for the anniversary – to restore the icon of St. Constantine. 

The order was fulfilled by talented specialists from St. Petersburg’s mosaic workshop TAVR (headed by Oleg Kostenko) based on the image of St. Constantine that is a part of the iconostasis in St. Isaac’s cathedral (unfortunately there are no photos of the icon in the Marble Palace remained).

On 25th May, there were lots of guests in the Palace. Together with the finalists of the competition some special guests came to the palace. Among them there was Tatyana Kubrakova, Federal inspector in St. Petersburg of the Office of the Plenipotentiary Representative in the North-West Federal District; Maxim Reznik, Chairman of the Standing Committee on Education, Culture and Science of the Legislative Assembly of St. Petersburg; Grachya Pogosyan, President of the Charitable Foundation. Also mosaicists, sponsors of the Poetry Competition, finalists of 2018, citizens and journalists gathered there.
The icon of St. Constantine covered with white cloth was standing on the pedestal in the courtyard. Sergei V. Lyubimtzev told the guests about the history of the icon, its meaning to the family of Constantine Romanov and the dreams of the museum staff to see it on its place.

‘Grachya Misakovich Pogosyan has returned that lost icon to our palace and for this we are truly grateful to him. We had been dreaming and talking about it for a long time but there were no people wishing to restore the image. But Grachya Pogosyan came, and saw, and finally did it. All this is worth a lot – when the word goes with an action. Thank you for such an amazing gift!’ – Sergei Lyubimtzev said.
In his turn Grachya Pogosyan thanked the Administration of the Museum for accepting the gift.

‘St. Petersburg is famous for its attractions and the Russian Museum, the Marble Palace are one of these treasures. I am very glad that my gift will become a worthy part of the history of St. Petersburg. I’d like to thank the priesthood of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Cathedral of Vladimir icon of the Mother of God as they always bless me for my deeds, and they are consecrating the icon today. A consecrated image has a different sense and power.’ – Grachya Pogosyan pointed out.

Tatyana Kubrakova, Maxim Reznik, Sergei Lyubimtzev and Grachya Pogosyan have been privileged to unveil the icon. Just at that very moment a mosaic image of St. Constantine sparkled in the sunshine. Every one noticed the beauty and the quality of the work done.

The icon was consecrated by Alexander Prokofyev, the priest of the Cathedral of Vladimir icon of the Mother of God. At the conclusion of the ceremony, Reverend Father Alexander spoke of Grachya Pogosyan’s selfless assistance of St. Vladimir’s Cathedral, his activity for the good of the Russian Orthodox Church and reminded of the scale of his charity work.

‘Grachya Pogosyan’s good deeds cover 11 countries; more than 100 cultural and historical heritage sites have been reconstructed, restored and installed upon the initiative and at the expense of Grachya Pogosyan. His deeds have affected both the history of the city and our Cathedral.’ – Reverend Father Alexander noted.

Every one wanted to come up to kiss the icon of Saint Constantine the Great and to thank the philanthropist for that wonderful gift. A ceremony to install the icon in its place – in the niche on the facade of the Marble Palace is going to be held this autumn.

Then the guests were invited to the Marble Palace to participate in the awarding ceremony of the winners of the Poetry Competition. It should be mentioned that this jubilee volume has turned out to be remarkable in all respects – from its design to its content. It is unique not only because selected poems by the winners and finalists of the competitions of 2011 to 2017 are published in it, but also it contains words of welcome from Alexander Beglov, Plenipotentiary of the President in the North-West Federal District; Vyacheslav Makarov, Chairman of the Legislative Assembly of St. Petersburg; Grachya Pogosyan, the philanthropist; Sergei Nekrasov, Head of the All-Russian Alexander Pushkin Museum and other outstanding people.

The 8th Competition was different from the others: literary translators joined poets and young journalists (who took part in it for the third time). It’s widely known that Constantine Romanov was an excellent translator himself, and we hope that future nominees in literary translation will show the highest level of such creative work. This time all the nominations were somehow connected with the life of Constantine Romanov: with his favorite painting, the Silver Age, his love of music, friendship with Tchaikovsky, his beloved Pavlovsk… The jury had to estimate thousands of poems sent by Russian-speaking authors from all over the world – from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Germany, Italy, the USA. The honoring of the winners and finalists started at Peter and Paul Fortress with the midday shot to commemorate Grand Duke Constantine Romanov. Alexandra Samsonova from Moscow was privileged to fire a shot. The awarding ceremony took place in the Marble Palace.

Tatyana Kubrakova read the words of welcome to the organizers and participants of the Competition from Alexander Beglov, Plenipotentiary of the President in the North-West Federal District. There were wishes of luck and professional growth for the participants, and the philanthropist’s contribution to the restoration of the image of St. Constantine was noted as well.

Maxim Reznik, Chairman of the Standing Committee on Education, Culture and Science of the Legislative Assembly of St. Petersburg added his voice to that of Alexander Beglov and addressed young poets with the poem by Alexander Pushkin which is devoted to poets.

Among the partners of the Competition who value the name of Constantine Romanov we should first of all name the Friends of the Russian Museum society as all the sponsors are its members and help selflessly. This year Grachya Pogosyan has topped the list. It was thanks to him that the volume of the selected poems was published. A. Dmitrov the blacksmith from Vitebsk made the prize for the winner under the auspices of the Russian Museum, TurPress-Club awarded the winner of the journalistic nomination, all other winners were awarded by the All-Russian Alexander Pushkin Museum, the State Museum ‘Pavlovsk’, the Centre of music culture ‘Tchaikovsky’, the St. Petersburg Writers' Union and the Virtual Branch of the Russian Museum.

Many of the partners took part in the awarding ceremony. Grachya Pogosyan was the first one to be invited to the stage. For his support and contribution to the restoration of the Marble Palace, he received honorary mention from the organizers and got an uncommon and very symbolic present: an alive symbol of the Summer Gardens – a young shoot of Petrovsky oak grown from an acorn.

It’s not for the first time when Mathias Hans the connoisseur of poetry and the owner of the Gallery in Hamburg supports the Competition. In his opening speech he noted; ‘In our technocratic world one should possess courage to write poems and not to be afraid to display your soul to “the city and the world”. One should have bravery, and love, and knowledge, yes, knowledge, to write poems about art… I admire Russian poets who possess this courage and bravery. I wish them to have all their works noticed, and to grow and to reach the pinnacles of craftsmanship as masters.’

Alexander Tankov, a member of the board and the chairman of the Poetry Section of the St. Petersburg Writers’ Union called Constantine Romanov ‘a man of Renaissance’.  And the Competition itself sponsored by a lot of people, and now Grachya Pogosyan in particular, aims at such heights. For the laureates of the Competition the awarding ceremony finished with a visit to the Virtual Branch of the Russian Museum where they could watch a film ‘I don’t want to die without fame’ about Oleg, a beloved Constantine Romanov’s son. The guests of honor got ht opportunity to visit the chambers of Constantine Romanov.


Dina Nikiforova




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