Pochaev - Amazing Ukrainian Fortress-Monastery: 800 Years of War and Prayer
Pochaev monastery, a stronghold of Russian Christianity in Western Ukraine, has a long and dramatic history of political and religious conflict
Far away in western Ukraine, where mighty rivers flow through the green ravines, amidst the hills and dales of the Krementsky mountains of Old Volhynia (a region in western Ukraine) there lay an ancient stone with the footprint of the Virgin Mary herself.
Upon that rock was built a stronghold, and a church atop it further still, wall upon wall, glacis upon glacis, arising from the viridescent hill. Today, Pochaev Monastery, a fortress of adamant, dominates the landscape like something from a Russian fairy tale.
It is not possible to overstate its beauty; its cathedral complex is a colossus atop a great stone plateau rising from a walled hill. The countless phosphorus stars of heaven's fields are mirrored in the azure domes. Its ivory halls hold many a tome written in the ancient Slavic tongue. Its towers are tall, where bells are rung, calling people to argent Churches, where many a song of praise is sung. Its crowning jewel is a golden cathedral, overlooking the valley and village of Pochaev, remnants of old Kiev.
In the Russian lands there exist only five functioning Lavras, or great monasteries; two of them in Russia, and three in Ukraine. One of them is Pochaev, and as you can see, its beauty is beyond belief. Yet its role in Russian history is also as paramount and high as its perch atop its hill.Pochaev has long been and remains to this day a fortress of Russian Orthodoxy in the western reaches of Ukraine.
Pochaev Lavra was founded in 1240 by monks fleeing the fall of Kiev, which had been captured by Batu Khan of the Mongol Horde. Settling high on the rocky, forested hills, the monks were honored with the apparition of the Mother of God Mary. The Ever-Virgin Mary appeared to them in a glorious crown and left the imprint of her foot upon a stone from which flowed a water spring.
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