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Holy Bogolyubovo Monastery (Suzdal)

Bogolyubovo Village, Suzdal District, Vladimir Region, tel.: +7 4922 30-05-34.

Being one of the most ancient monasteries of the Russia Orthodox Church, the Holy Bogolyubovo Monastery was founded in 1155 by St. Blessed Prince Andrey Bogolyubsky, a "gatherer of the Russian land" second only to St. Equal-to-the-Apostles Prince Vladimir. In the summer of 1155, Saint Prince Andrey moved from Kiev to the Vladimir-Suzdal land. At around 10 kilometres (6 miles) from the city of Vladimir, the horses that were carrying a wonder-working icon of the Most Holy Mother of God came to a sudden stop; and later that night the Mother of God appeared to the praying prince and ordered him to found a church in the honour of the Nativity of the Mother of God, to create a monastic abode, and to place the wonder-working icon in Vladimir. On that day, the Vladimir icon became the Holy Russia's main sacred object and symbol, while the Vladimir-Suzdal land became the centre of the Russian state. It was then that by the prince's order the Bogolyubskaya ("God-Loving") Icon of the Mother of God was painted, capturing the way Our Lady appeared to St. Prince Andrey in his vision in the night. This icon (which is now at Vladimir's Holy Dormition Princess's Convent) has become famous with its many wonders; its numerous copies are wonder-working as well. In the summer of 1174, the prince was murdered by conspirators. The site of the martyr's death of the saint prince (in the stair tower of Bogolyubovo Castle) has survived to our days.

After the prince's death, the Abode, despite suffering devastation and plunder, continued its existence. When the Patriarchate was established in Russia in 1588, Bogolyubovo Monastery was placed under jurisdiction of the patriarchs and became known as the Patriarchal Residential Monastery of the Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God.

The Abode stood by a busy road, leading to the city of Nizhny Novgorod and to the city of Kazan; the Monastery was frequently visited by tsars, princes and other grand people. In 1680, while on his way to the abbot of the Frolishchi Hermitage, Hilarion (who would subsequently become the metropolitan of Suzdal), the Monastery was visited by Tsar Fyodor (Tsar Aleksey's son) who donated his precious pectoral cross to serve as a decoration for the Bogolyubskaya Icon of the Mother of God. In 1690, the Abode was visited by Emperor Peter the Great (it was during his reign that Prince Andrey Bogolyubsky was canonised). The Monastery was also visited by Emperors Paul I, Alexander I and Aleksander II and by numerous grand dukes. And on 13 May 1913 the Bogolyubovo abode was honoured by a visit from the family of Nicolas II, the last Russian emperor. In 1891, the Monastery was elevated to Class 1. By the early 20th century, the number of friars in the Abode amounted to 75. Athanasius (Sakharov) was the last abbot of the Monastery before it was shut down in 1921; he has been canonised (praised on 29 October 2000).

The Abode's churches and other buildings:
– The Cathedral of the Bogolyubskaya Icon of the Mother of God (constructed to a design by Konstantin Thorn). Consecrated in May 1866 by St. Theophanes the Recluse. The Cathedral's dedication day is 1 July. The Cathedral has the following side altars: the right one — of St. Simeon the God-Receiver and Anna the Prophetess; the left one — of Ss. Peter and Paul the Apostles. A semi-basement room houses the Church in the honour of Venerable Seraphim of Sarov.
– The Church of the Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God (the 12th – 18th centuries).
– The Palace of St. Prince Andrey Bogolyubsky (the 12th century).
– The Annunciation Refectory Church (the 17th century).
– The Ciborium Chapel (the 17th century); was originally built in the 12th century on the site where the Mother of God appeared to St. Prince Andrey.
– The bell tower with the gate church in the honour of the Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God (the 19th century).
– The monastic-cell blocks, the fence and the towers (the 18th and 19th centuries).

After the 1917 Russian Revolution, the years of desolation came, the churches were devastated, the bells were cut down and the sacred objects were desecrated. The monks were dispersed; many of them died martyr's deaths by the hands of the godless people. The Monastery's blocks were occupied by a school, a hospital, a post office, a police station and a canning factory, while the churches were used as warehouses.

In 1991, a part of the Monastery's buildings were handed back to the Russian Orthodox Church. In July 1991, during the translation of the relics of Venerable Seraphim of Sarov to Diveyevo Monastery, the cross procession entered the Abode. After the relics had been placed on the porch of the Cathedral of the Bogolyubskaya Icon of the Mother of God, Most Holy Patriach Alexius II performed a prayer service in front of them to bless the newly organising abode. In the Cathedral's semi-basement room, the Vladimir land's first sanctuary in the honour of Venerable Seraphim of Sarov was consecrated.

In 1991, Schemahegumen Nicodemus became the reviving Monastery's first abbot. Later, in 1992, Archimandrite Hieronymus (Derkach) was appointed instead of him, remaining here until 1997. By God's will, on 14 January 1997 60 sisters and Archimandrite Peter (Kucher) were transferred from Zadonsk Transfiguration Convent to the Bogolyubovo abode. Since that time, the Bogolyubovo abode has housed two monasteries: a monastery for men, with Archimandrite Peter appointed its abbot, and a convent for women, with the nun Elena (Bogdan) from Suzdal's Intercession Convent confirmed as its abbess.

On 25 May 1997, the altar of the 17th century Annunciation Refectory Church was consecrated; the church has been occasionally used for church services. In June 1997, services in the Cathedral of the Bogolyubsky Icon of the Mother of God were renewed.

During these years, the Abode acquired a new look. In the summer of 1997, the Cathedral of the Bogolyubsky Icon of the Mother of God was plastered and whitewashed on the exterior, while steam heating was installed inside. In the Cathedral, nine small side chandeliers were mounted as well as the central one, weighting around 2,000 kilogrammes (4,400 pounds). In April 1999, on the eve of Easter, in the Cathedral of the Bogolyubskaya Icon of the Mother of God the floor was paved with granite and marble, while the soleas, the altar, the altar table, the prophesis and the high place were faced with white marble. The painting is now under reconstruction (the area of the restored surface is over 1,200 square metres (13,000 square feet) ). Utility buildings have been erected, a fruit garden has been planted and the monastic-cell blocks are under restoration. The Monastery has a tailor's workshop, an icon-painting workshop and a woodworker's workshop. In the bell-tower, two bells, of 1,000 kilogrammes (2,200 pounds) and 2,500 kilogrammes (5,500 pounds), were mounted; the surrounding country is frequently resounded with the bell's festive chime. By the efforts of Bogolyubovo Monastery, the Suzdal Convent of the Deposition of the Robe is being reconstructed. The tradition of performing the cross procession with the Bogolyubskaya Icon of the Mother of God has been revived; this tradition was first established in the 18th century, to commemorate a miraculous, prayer-assisted, termination of a terrible pestilence. The cross procession from the city of Vladimir to the Holy Bogolyubovo Monastery is performed every year on 1 July, on the Day of the Bogolyubskaya Icon of the Mother of God. The procession involves 10,000 people.

Among the special sacred objects, the Monastery keeps parts of the relics of the Vladimir land's saints and of the Kiev Pechersk Lavra's hermits.

Every day the Cathedral performs canonical church services and the Divine Liturgy. Sisters perform the round-the-clock reading of psalm book, praying for the repose of the dead, for the health of the living and for the salvation of the Russian land and of the suffering Motherland.

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Holy Bogolyubovo Monastery


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