Church of St. Barbara
Built in 1878, the Church of St. Barbara in Vevey is one of the oldest Orthodox churches in Western Europe. It is an emblematic monument in the history of the Orthodox presence in French-speaking Switzerland.
Dedication to the Holy Great Martyr Barbara
The construction of the church reflects the wish of Count Peter Shuvalov, formerly installed in the Vaud Riviera. He wanted her daughter Barbara, who died in 1872 in childbirth, to rest in Orthodox land and near a church. The church erected in her memory in 1878 was built by the Vevey architect Jean-Samuel Késer-Doret, in accordance with a project designed in Russia by Hippolyte Monighetti.
The rich interior decoration combines murals and painted canvases sent from St. Petersburg. The iconostasis designed in Russia around 1845, as well as liturgical objects, come from the chapel of the Villa Olivuzza, the Count Shuvalov home in Palermo.
Exterior view of the church. Contrast between the simple exterior, reminiscent of a candle rising towards the sky, and the interior richness of the monument.
© Photography Rémy Gindroz
Count Peter Shuvalov and his daughter Barbara.
A classified monument
The whole church is classified as a historical monument (1977) and placed under the Confederation protection (2006). The murals, stained glass windows, icons, marble and sculpted wood have been classified since 2019. Its rich history and unique style give the church of St. Barbara a special place in religious architecture in Switzerland and Western Europe.
Exterior view of the church at the time of its inauguration in 1878.
© Vsemirnaïa Illustratsia, 1878
The Orthodox Parish of Lausanne-Vevey is part of the Diocese of London and Western Europe of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia. From the day of its consecration, it has been a meeting point for the Russians, but also for the Orthodox Christians in French-speaking Switzerland.
A community firmly rooted in the region
It is a lively and dynamic parish, which is fully in line with the tradition of Orthodox spirituality. Open to everyone, it has been able to blend harmoniously into the Vaud Riviera for over a century. Its members are mainly Swiss citizens, who currently represent 80% of parishioners. This multicultural community hosts people, not only from Eastern Europe (e.g. Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, and Georgia), but also from Western and Central Europe (France, Italy, etc.). Such a diversity shows the remarkable openness of the parish, which is at the same time well anchored in the Vevey cultural life.
A new bishop
In 2019, Bishop Alexander (Echevarria) became the new bishop of Vevey. He is assisted by the Priest Aviv Saliou-Diallo and the Protodeacon Michel Vernaz. This nomination allowed the church to regain a place of primary importance in Christendom.
Religious services and opening to the public
Services are celebrated in Slavic, the liturgical language of the Russian Orthodox Church, and French. In addition to religious services, the church is open to the public on Wednesday afternoons. For more information on parish life, click here.
Would you like to know more about the history of the church and its parish? Read the amazing story told by Protodeacon Michel Vernaz.
Bishop Alexander with Protodeacon Michel Vernaz.
© Photography Julia Boubnova