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Kazan Monastery (Nizhny Lomov)

Norovka village, Nizhny Lomov.

There is a big two-storey building, made of old bricks, at the foot of the hill, two kilometres away from the western fringes of Nizhny Lomov. Its hollow sockets of the facade window openings look out on the south-east.

Until the 1917 Russian Revolution, the building was hidden behind a stone wall and was a part of the Kazan Friary that was founded in 1648 to order of Tzar Alexy I.

Originally, the Friary was completely wooden. On 2 September 1709, fire devoured the Monastery itself and three churches. However, by the mid-18th century, it was reconstructed in stone.

In 1722, a house was built for the Friary's archpriests and deans. They lived upstairs. The ground floor was occupied by provisor's rooms and a library, which held more than a hundred unique ancient books. Unfortunately, the library has not survived.

In different years, 32 deans and archpriests lived in the house, but it became historically famous not because of them. All stone buildings of the Monastery, including a church, were built by Russian architects of the early 18th century for a full due. Walls were one meter (3.3 ft.) thick.

In 1780, a theological seminary was opened on the ground floor. It was the first educational institution in the district of Nizhny Lomov. In eight years, the seminary was moved to Tambov.

In 1808, Archpriest Moses opened the first Russian school in the Monastery. Seventy boys were taught there to read and write, four rules of arithmetic, and, of course, holy writings. The school existed until 1821.

The building's future history was as follows. During the 1667–1671 Peasant Wars, under the leadership of Stepan Razin, an uprising flared up in the Middle Volga Region. Razin's ataman (note: ataman is a title of Cossack leader) Mikhail Kharitonov joined another ataman Vasily Fyodorov and continued through Mokshan to Nizhny Lomov. On 2 October 1670, he approached the town. The atamans did not dare to rush a town castle. First, they captured the Monastery and leaded the uprising from there.

However, it is known that the Razin's revolt was harshly suppressed. A hundred years later, on 9 August 1774, Pugachev's ataman Yakov Ivanov accompanied by a large army of rebellious peasants, a hundred Cossacks, and 15 canons entered Nizhny Lomov and besieged it. He chose the Kazan Monastery as his residence and moved there with a part of his army. The Pugachev's army was met by Archpriest Isaac with church banners, icons, and bells ringing. Ataman Ivanov and his confidants banqueted in the Archpriest's room.

On 11 October 1774, Count Peter Panin arrived to Nizhny Lomov to crush the revolt. He and his soldiers quartered in the Archpriest's house, who was taken into custody for treachery, and leaded the savage reprisal against the rebellious peasants, which lasted for several days.

Terrible years of the peasant wars went by. The Monastery healed the wounds of the war, expanded, and grew rich. Every year, on 6 July, the Monastery celebrated its patron saint's day. Thousands of believers came there from everywhere, but not just Penza Province. Landowners, noblemen, and merchants, beggars and holy fools came to bow before the wonder-working Our Lady of Kazan icon.

Landlady Arsenyeva with Mikhail Lermontov came from her Tarkhany estate too. The Monastery could not seat so many people, and a camp was arranged around it. We have got every reason to think that Lermontov visited the Monastery and its patron saint's day celebrations many times. His story "Vadim" shows Lermontov's deep knowledge of the Monastery's life.

Today, this is the only building survived. After the 1917 Russian Revolution, it was occupied by Norovka school for a long period of time. Unfortunately, the village council could not preserve this interesting building for the history.

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Kazan Monastery



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