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Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius, Sergiyev Posad

Simonov Monastery in Moscow, Borisoglebsky in Rostov, Blagoveshchensky on Kirzhach, Staro-Golutvin near Kolomna, Vysotsky in Serpukhov, Georgievsky on Klyazma - all these monasteries were founded by St. Sergius of Radonezh in different years of the XIV century. But the first and special among them was one, which began as the Trinity Hermitage on the bank of the Konchura River, on Makovets hill in the middle of the Radonezhsky Pine Forest.

For six centuries of its existence, the secluded hermitages grew up in the Trinity-Sergius Lavra - Russia's largest Orthodox monastery, an architectural ensemble of stunning beauty, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The magnificence of the modern monastic city on Makovets hill does not in any way resemble the early days of the foundation of the monastery, life in which was filled with sorrow and narrowness and obeyed the harsh discipline of the monastic hostel - that same "strictest monasticism" that did not take root in Russia before the advent of Sergius.

Sergius of Radonezh until the end of his days remained the abbot of the Trinity Monastery founded by him, abandoning the metropolitan's golden cross. Here he reposed, here lie his holy relics. The humble ascetic, unwittingly, turned out to be “guilty” in the rapid rise of the Trinity Monastery and its transformation into one of the main Orthodox shrines. The personality and works of a man who was already revered as a saint during his life were so significant in Russian history that Father Pavel Florensky called the monk the “Builder and Angel of Russia”. By and large, without the Sergius of Radonezh and its cloister, the Russian state could not have taken place.

The new state, the Soviet, turned the ancient monastery into a museum, then a ceremonial showcase of permissible Orthodoxy. Today, when the main patriarchal residence has moved to the Moscow St. Daniel Monastery, officialdom - to the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, the monastery continues to live a double life: as a spiritual center and tourist center, shining from the Makovets hill above the Sergiev Posad urban agglomeration. Clouds of pigeons fattened by tourists fly from the Holy Gates to the streets of the post-Soviet post-Zagorsk.

Nowadays, spiritual quest is no longer the only motive for going to Lavra. Tourists with cameras, but without faith, are no less than devout pilgrims. Guides are trying to set out the key interrelationships - Sergius of Radonezh, Dmitry Donskoy, Oslyabya and Peresvet, Ivan the Terrible, Boris Godunov, Peter the Great ... - forcing you to think about the fact that the significance of the Russian history with the monastery can be compared only to the Kremlin.

But, unlike the Kremlin, which radically changed with the secular power, the lavra has a heart: a small Holy Trinity Cathedral, almost imperceptible against the backdrop of the majestic buildings of late eras. The whole monastery grew up around this church, built on the site of the first wooden church of the hermit Bartholomew, the future Sergius of Radonezh. Here in the silver sanctuary lies the main shrine of the monastery: the holy relics of St. Sergius. The first painting of the cathedral was made by the monks Andrei Rublev and Daniil Cherny, and for the first high iconostasis in Russia Andrei Rublev painted his main masterpiece, the Trinity.

Namolennye cathedrals, the beauty of the monastic city, the material embodiment of the spirit of history - in the "House of the Life-Giving Trinity" everyone can look for the answer to their internal questions. There are a lot of suffering, and just curious people, so the only thing that should not be looked for in a guest in the Trinity-Sergius Lavra is silence and solitude.


Do not forget the rules: when visiting lavra, women are strongly recommended to cover their heads, put on a skirt below the knees and long sleeved clothes, men take off hats before entering the temple, and shorts and T-shirts are irrelevant here even in hot weather.

Temples related to the monastery, there is not only in Sergiev Posad. Thus, the Church of the Holy Trinity, which serves as the Patriarch's monastery courtyard, is located on the island of Waterloo (South Shetland Islands) in the Antarctic, not far from the Russian polar station Bellingshausen. The Church of the Holy Trinity is considered the southernmost Orthodox church in the world.

The pilgrim center of the monastery is located next to the entrance to the temple in honor of St. Nativity. John the Baptist.

Theological Academy
Since 1814, the Moscow Theological Academy has been located on the territory of the Trinity-Sergius Lavra. This is the oldest institution of higher education in Russia, the former Slavic-Greek-Latin Academy, founded in 1685. The Academy was transferred to the monastery in 1814, after the fire of Moscow. It was closed after the October Revolution and was revived in 1944 as the Orthodox Theological Institute and the Higher Theological and Pastor Courses at it. In 1946, the institute was transformed into the Theological Academy and Seminary. Three years later, the academy and seminary were located in the newly opened Trinity-Sergius Lavra. The liberal arts education that students of the academy received was different from the standard Soviet one for the better and was very much appreciated. And romantic girls far from the church saw a trip to Zagorsk as an opportunity to meet the groom from among the “spiritual” students.

Currently, the seminary has a five-year education system, and at the academy a three-year one. Students choose specialization and study in one of four departments: biblical, theological, church-historical, or church-practical. There is an opportunity to study in absentia. There are Regent and Icon Painting Schools and Higher Theological Courses.

In 1337, the future Sergius of Radonezh, in those years not yet holy and not a monk, but simply Bartholomew, together with brother Stephen set up on Makovets hill, in the place of the present monastery, a small wooden church of the Holy Trinity and settled there in seclusion. Then Stephen moved to the Moscow Epiphany Monastery, and other monks began join to Bartholomew. So the monastery was formed. A schematic plan of its original structure has been preserved: a courtyard with a church and a refectory, surrounded on four sides by cells. The first abbot of the monastery was Mitrofan, who tonsured the future head of the monastery of St. Sergius of Radonezh as a monk.

At various times Nikon Radonezhsky, Maxim Grek, Epiphanius the Wise lived here. The monastery collected handwritten and printed books, from which a unique library was gradually compiled.

The earliest structure of the monastery is the white-stone Trinity Cathedral, built in 1422 on the site of the first wooden church. He died when the Tatars burned the monastery in 1408, and Nikon, the then head priest, ordered to rebuild a new cathedral from stone. The Trinity Cathedral was erected by Serbian monks who, after a battle on Kosovo field, found shelter in the monastery. During construction, the relics of Sergius of Radonezh were found, which are stored in this cathedral. The majestic and laconic white-stone cross-domed church in its decor remains an outstanding example of early Moscow architecture. For a long time he was the only stone building of the monastery. The whole complex of lavra was built around it.

The great icon painters Andrei Rublev and Daniel Cherny worked on the iconostasis of the Trinity Cathedral. For this iconostasis, the Rublev icon of the Holy Trinity was painted.

Nikon Church, built in 1552, adjoins the Trinity Cathedral from the south. From the same side - according to legend, there was a cell of St. Sergius - Serapion tent was attached (1783), erected over the relics of the Novgorod Archbishop Serapion, who died in the monastery.

The Cathedral of the Holy Spirit (the Church of the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles) was erected following the Trinity. It was built in 1476 by the Pskov masters and was completed by the “under dome bell tower”, unique for Moscow architecture - the bell tower directly under the blue dome. The relics of St. Maxim the Greek are buried at its northern wall.

The most significant in scale building of the monastery is the Assumption Cathedral. It was built for 26 years (1559–1585) on the model of the eponymous church of the Moscow Kremlin. The process of construction was monitored by Ivan the Terrible himself. Painted and decorated the cathedral already under the tutelage of the son of Grozny - Tsar Fyodor Ivanovich. He and his wife, Tsarina Irina Fedorovna Godunova, had no children for a long time and prayed for “childbearing”, bestowing temples.

The iconostasis of the cathedral, together with other masters, was created by Fyodor Ushakov, a Moscow artist in the royal service, and the frescoes were performed by the prominent painter Dmitry Grigoriev.

From the north-west side, the tombs of Boris Godunov and his family are adjacent to the Assumption Cathedral. Above them in 1780 a tent was erected, but it was not preserved.

To the south-west of the temple stands the covered chapel of the end of the 17th century. Its architecture belongs to the Naryshkin style - the initial stage of Russian baroque.

Monuments of church architecture of the XVIII century: Mikheevskaya (1734) and Smolensk (1746–1753) churches, as well as the five-tiered bell tower (1741–1770) - the highest in Russia, 88.5 meters.

In the 15th century, the monastery's territory was enclosed by a white stone wall 1284 meters long.

Ivan Sergeevich Aksakov (1886), a writer and public figure, was buried behind the altar of the Assumption Cathedral on the north side. In addition, representatives of noble Russian families were buried in Lavra: Belsky, Vorotynsky, Glinsky, Obolensky, Odoyevsky ... At the cemetery of the Chernigovsky monastery lie the philosopher Konstantin Leontyev (who took the vows here under the name of Lev) and the writer Vasily Rozanov.

Over time, the Trinity Monastery became the spiritual center of the Moscow lands, the support of the Moscow princes, and often played a prominent role in the political life of the country. In wartime, the Holy Trinity Monastery was regularly besieged, but it was occupied and plundered only once, at the very beginning of the 15th century, when it was burned by Khan Edigu. In the years 1608-1610, the monastery withstood the siege of the Polish-Lithuanian invaders, who in number exceeded the besieged ones ten times. According to legend, the spirit of the monks supported the miraculous phenomena of St. Sergius. The monastery lasted as long as 16 months, and after the enemy retreated, he became one of the strongholds of the second militia of Minin and Pozharsky.

During the first rebellion of the archers in the Holy Trinity Monastery, Princess Sofia Alekseevna, Tsarevich Ivan and Peter took refuge. In 1689, Peter again found shelter here, when he escaped from Moscow, which was seized by a new rifle riot.

In 1744, by order of Empress Elizabeth Petrovna, the monastery received the status of a lavra, that is, its special significance, spiritual and state, was officially recognized.

With the advent of Soviet power, the monastery was naturally closed down, and a historical and art museum was organized in its buildings. The revival of the monastery began during a brief "church thaw", when Stalin decided that he still needed the ROC. On Great Saturday of 1946, the bells sounded again and the service was held in the Assumption Cathedral. From then until the end of the USSR, the monastery was a kind of showcase of officially authorized Orthodoxy. In 1971, 1988, and 1990, Local Councils were held in the Trinity-Sergius Lavra.

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