"The Valaam island in Karelia is one of the most revered holy places in Russia, where the oldest monastery, the Transfiguration Monastery, is located"
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Valaam is reputedly Putin;s 'favorite' monastery, to which, it is rumored, he has donated personal funds. Apparently he developed a relationship with the Valaam brethren while living in St. Petersburg over 20 years ago. Valaam is a few hours northwest of St. Petersburg. It is a truly extraordinary place. The way in which Russians have brought back the rich monastic traditions of the past is highly unusual. Nothing like it exists in the West, neither among Catholics or Protestants
Vladimir Putin and President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko visited Valaam today. The island in Karelia is one of the most revered holy places in Russia, where the oldest monastery, the Transfiguration Monastery, is located.
Vladimir Putin is known in these places and has long been following the fate of the monastery. Today, the leaders of the two countries have a day of informal communication. They attended a service in the main cathedral of the monastery, in several monasteries and communicated with parishioners.
Thousands of pilgrims from all countries where the Russian Church preaches go to the northern island of Valaam. Although the President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, calls himself an Orthodox atheist, he accepted the invitation of Vladimir Putin to visit this oldest monastery.
“I'm glad that I came here for the first time together with my friend,” says Lukashenko.
Almost a thousand years ago, the monastery on Valaam was founded by the Monks Sergius and German. Their relics are the main shrine of the monastery.
In the Transfiguration Cathedral of the monastery, both the revered Valaam icon of the Mother of God, and her list, which accompanied the Russian cosmonauts on an orbital expedition, and, of course, the cathedral itself, especially its summer, second floor, amaze the imagination with its picturesque decoration.
The Valaam monastery has almost two hundred monks. Many serve in remote monasteries, of which there are now eighteen. The largest and strictest is All Saints.
And this here is the Smolensk monastery. The original brick with the sign of the old Valaam factory dates from 1914.
“This is a brick built in 1914. The church was finished and consecrated in 1917. And this, in fact, was the last church of the old Valaam, still pre-revolutionary,” says Bishop Troitsky, hegumen of the Transfiguration of Valaam stauropegic monastery Pankraty.
A temple with a dome similar to a hero’s helmet was built on Valaam at the request of Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolayevich, Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Army at the beginning of the First World War. He wanted a prayer for the fallen defenders of the Fatherland to always be heard in this holy place. The tradition was interrupted in Soviet times and was revived in 2006, when the devastated Smolensky monastery was restored. Vladimir Putin showed Alexander Lukashenko a new memorial chapel in a historical place.
In the chapel of Smolensk Skete, the monks of Valaam commemorate those who died during the siege of Leningrad every day. Now in the third book of memory, the page is open with the letter "B", the remaining 28 volumes of this mournful list are also stored here. Also, the funeral services for soldiers of the Russian army who died from the 18th century before the operation in Syria are read every day in the chapel.
For a thousand years, the Valaam monastery was repeatedly restored from nonexistence. And now, after the desolation of the Soviet era, almost all churches are repaired and restored. However, there are not only churches: the monks also keep about forty cows that provide the monastery with milk. In recent years, after serious technical re-equipment, they began to produce their own cheese, well-known even beyond the Russian North.
Among the centuries-old Karelian pines, on previously unclimbed rocky shores of the Ladoga skerries, new points of attraction for pilgrims appear, such as this chapel of the Valaam Icon of the Mother of God on Svetly Island. The monastery in honor of the Holy Prince Vladimir is one of the creations of the Valaam icon-painting workshops. It is also one of the new temples of the monastery, intended for solitary monastic prayer.
The heads of Russia and Belarus practically did not violate either the special way of life of the monks, or even the schedule of excursions for tourists who could easily meet with pilgrim presidents at a meeting.
Source: Russian Faith
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