The “Threshold” to the Kingdom of Heaven

On Moscow’s St. Alexei Convent, Part 1

Around 1360 on Ostozhye (now Ostozhenka) Street, the St. Alexei Convent was built, named in honor of St. Alexis, the Man of God. St. Alexei Monastery was the first monastery for women in Moscow. Tradition connects its foundation with the name of the Holy Hierarch Alexei, Metropolitan of Moscow.

K. Rabus, St. Alexei Monastery in Chertole. 1838 K. Rabus, St. Alexei Monastery in Chertole. 1838     

The monastery repeatedly faced Tatar raids and ruination and suffered from several fires. At the end of the sixteenth century, the monastery was moved to a safer place, closer to the Kremlin. During the Time of Troubles, the monastery buildings were burned by the Poles. In 1625, by order of Tsar Mikhail Feodorovich, it was rebuilt, but four years later it was destroyed again by fire and restored.

With the onset of 1812, new trials awaited its sisters. The French looted and ravaged St. Alexei Monastery, and many buildings were burned. But the sisters didn’t leave their monastery, showing great courage and selflessness.

After expelling the enemy, Emperor Alexander I vowed to erect a church in Moscow dedicated to Christ the Savior, in gratitude to God for the Russian Empire’s victory in the last war. The fulfillment of this vow involved the relocation of the St. Alexei Monastery to a new, third place, where it’s still located today.

It was hard for the monastery sisters to get used to their new location. They had to go through many difficulties and hardships—after all, there were practically no funds to support the monastery’s existence. In 1840, St. Philaret, Metropolitan of Moscow and Kolomna, blessed the opening of a cemetery on monastery land.

St. Alexei Monastery had its heyday under Abbess Antonia (Troilina). She introduced monastic residences into the monastery, built the trapeza, opened a school for South Slavic girls, laid the foundation for a new two-story stone building to serve as an almshouse for elderly sisters, and established a hospital with a small house church dedicated to the Archangel Michael.

Abbess Antonia conceived and carried out the construction of the Church of All Saints. It’s noteworthy that a hundred years later, in 1991, the rebirth of Church life in the ruined monastery began precisely with the restoration of this church.

During the period of soviet persecution against the Church, the monastery churches of St. Alexei, the Man of God, and All Saints were closed. With the abolition of monastic life, the St. Alexei Convent ceased to exist.

In 1990, the Church of All Saints was returned to the faithful.

Church of All Saints in Krasnoe Selo. Photo: Church of All Saints in Krasnoe Selo. Photo:     

At the July 16th, 2013 session of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, it was decided to revive the St. Alexei Stavropegial Convent, beginning with the sisterhood created at the Church of All Saints in 2009, and to appoint Igumena Ksenia (Chernega) as the abbess of the monastery.

The sisterhood included parishioners of All Saints Church, whose rector from the time the church was returned in 1991 was Archpriest Artemy Vladimirov.

By decree of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill, Fr. Artemy was appointed confessor for the revived monastery.

Laborers invisible to the world but known to God

When the Church of All Saints of the former St. Alexei Monastery began to be restored in the early 1990s, it was decided first of all, in continuation of the old traditions, to organize a home for elderly nuns.

It was opened at the Church of All Saints on November 21, 1994, when the Church celebrates the Synaxis of the Archangel Michael and the rest of the Bodiless Powers. From the very beginning, elderly nuns who had served the Lord in the world during the trying, godless Soviet era, as well as elderly believers, and some women unrelated to the Church began to move in.

All of the residents of the home who have already departed to the other world cannot be mentioned in an article of this size, but it’s impossible not to talk about the ascetics of piety, the nuns who “retired” to the home.

Part 2

Svetlana Rybakova
Translation by Jesse Dominick

Sretensky Monastery


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