Moscow, January 15, 2015
On January 13, 2015, the Church History Museum was opened in the Second Athos Monastery of the Dormition on Mt. Beshtau near the city of Pyatigorsk in the Stavropol Territory (North Caucasus, southern Russia). The monastery’s abbot, Archbishop Theophylact of Pyatigorsk and Cherkessk, director of the Pyatigorsk Local History Museum Sergei Savenko, as well as the brethren and pilgrims took part in the ceremony, reports Blagoslovenny Kavkaz.
The monastery museum was founded with the support of the Pyatigorsk Local History Museum. Its expositions will help pilgrims as well as residents and visitors of spa towns familiarize themselves with history of Christianity in North Caucasus and the monastery on Mt. Beshtau, Archbishop Theophylact noted.
“There were two things that prompted us to found this museum,” the archbishop went on. “The first reason was to continue the 1000-year-old tradition because in Russia, monasteries have always been centers of learning and culture; the first Russian chronicles and monuments of material culture were created in monasteries. The second reason was the need for purely scientific sources of information on Christianity in the Caucasus and the monastery’s history. Listening to some of our guides who accompany tourist or pilgrimage groups in our monastery every day, you cannot help but marvel at the ability of some people to invent such tales!”
S. Savenko noted that Beshtau museum was not the only joint project with the Pyatigorsk Diocese undertaken in four years since its foundation. “In Archbishop Theophylact we have found a friend and colleague, a person who is keen to preserve our cultural heritage,” the Pyatigorsk Local History Museum’s director stressed.
The museum at the monastery on Mt. Beshtau is open daily 9 AM – 5 PM.
The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church made the decision to establish this monastery in 1904. It was founded with the blessing of St. John of Kronstadt, who even marked this place with a cross on the photographs that had been shown to him. Some of the saint’s personal things are on display at the museum’s exposition.
In 1927, the Bolsheviks closed the monastery for the first time, but public protests and outrage reached their peak, and the brethren soon returned to their cells. Early in 1929, a new wave of persecutions started. The monastery on Mt. Beshtau was closed again. Then the State Political Directorate’s sanatorium was located in the monastery’s rebuilt premises. Afterwards the monastic buildings and the territory were used for various purposes, and in the 1950s everything was completely destroyed.
In 1997, the Cossacks of Pyatigorsk erected a memorial cross on the site of the monastery as a sign of the beginning of its restoration. On June 21, 1999, the foundation stone of the new church was placed. The day of consecration of the St. George’s Church, August 28, 2001, marked the second “birthday” of the Second Athos monastery. Construction of the Dormition Cathedral began in the monastery in 2014.