Valaam, July 20, 2018
A momentous occasion has been reached in the continuing revival of monastic life in the Russian Orthodox Church, and at Valaam Monastery in particular.
The restoration of the Church of St. Alexander Nevsky at the St. Herman’s Skete of Valaam Monastery, the last remaining ruined church from Old Valaam, began on Monday, reports the monastery’s website.
The church was just returned to the Transfiguration of the Savior Valaam Monastery a few days ago, in very poor condition.
Addressing the gathered faithful at a moleben before the beginning of any good work, monastery abbot Bishop Pankraty of Troitsk noted that the Church of St. Alexander Nevsky was built at the beginning of the 20th century and consecrated in 1904, after which regular services were held for brothers carrying out their obediences on the monastery’s most remote island.
“The church was given to Valaam Monastery a week ago. I was there on the third day. That which appeared before my eyes is worthy of tears, because the church is nearly half-ruined: The altar is collapsed and large trees are growing on the roof. Thank God that those who come here to pray have cleaned around the church—it’s clean there, not polluted, although inscriptions on the walls indicate that people were there at the end of the 1940s,” the bishop stated.
There are icons and a cross on the iconostasis inside the church.
“The 800th anniversary of the birth of the right-believing Grand Prince Alexander Nevsky will be celebrated in 2021, and, of course, our brotherhood must restore this sacred Valaam site. This is our last church still in such a poor condition today,” Bp. Pankraty reflected, and invited all men to join in the restoration work of the church.
There were 13 sketes at Old Valaam, and today monastic life has been revived in 11 of them, and construction work is underway on other skete buildings.
The island that the St. Herman of Valaam Skete sits upon is the northernmost and most remote of the Valaam islands. There were numerous buildings on the island at the beginning of the 20th century, including a two-story building with cells for the brethren, warehouses, and cattle barns.
The monks were engaged in agriculture, fishing, and fruit gardening. There was a good shore on the pier for receiving boats from the monastery. The island was also known for its granite quarries.
After the Valaam monks were forced to leave the Ladoga Islands in 1940, the monastic life at St. Herman’s Skete stopped.
A chapel in honor of All Saints of Valaam was consecrated by His Holiness Patriarch Kirill in July 2016, and the foundation for a chapel in honor of St. Herman of Alaska (a Valaam monk) was laid in May of this year.
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