Vazhiozersky Monastery of Saviour and Transfiguration

Region Olonetsky

" In a far north, in the wild Olonets region, on the shore of a small lake of Vazhe, among the forests and bogs there is a small monastery, which is called Vazheozerskaya or Nikiforovskaya. It is difficult to find a more secluded place for prayers. There are no settlements around. It is very silent. The pilgrims can also be rarely met here, especially in winter, when the blizzards sweep the roads... " - told a writer who visited it in 1900 in 42 number of "Russian pilgrim ".

XVI century. The monastery was founded in 1520 by Reverends Nikifor and Gennady, who were the followers of the Russian Reverend Alezandre Svirsky.

Nikifor was born in a poor family in Vazhensky pogost, which is near Svir river. For sometime he served in the Monastery of Svir, but was not looking for fame and soon left for the Vazhe lake, where he preyed along with another students.

Like Gennady Nikifor also felt a calling to the monastery life in his youth.

In 1557 the Emperor Joann Vasiljevitch granted the letter of possession of plough-lands" to the monastery and in 1588 the monastery received one more imperial letters patent the lands and fish catching.

THE BEGINNING of XVII century. The life of the monastery was not remarkable for the history. Only in time of distemper the troops of Lithuanians attacked the monastery. The hermits did not render resistance to the robbers. With the knives of the Lithuanians Saints Ignaty, Leonid, Dionisy, Fedor, Ferapont, Kornily and Afanasy were killed. Their tombs became the place of pilgrimage.

The beginning of XIX century. For a long time the monastery didn't have independence. Its revival began from 1800, when it was assigned to Alexandro-Svirsky monastery.

Since 1830 the strictest hermit from Konevsky monastery with three schoolboys settled here. In that time the monastery was in desolation. Two shabby wooden churches, wooden belfry and two small cells were all the buildings of this famous cloister. 

The experienced confessor Father Isaja believed that he would renew the cloister. The churches were restored by the forces of the community under the management of father Isaja. He also introduced a severe charter of the monastery.

In 1840 the number of the community increased up to 15 men. Finally, in 1846 the cloister, which was assigned to Alexander-Svirsky monastery, got its independence. By this time the number of the community has increased up to 22 men.

On April 3 1852 the Father died, being 72 years old. His body was buried close to the wall of the monastery. When a new stone cathedral was built on the place of the chapel, the burial place of Father Isaja was removed to the gates, where he is lying till now.

THE END of XIX century. The terrible fire in 1885 has erased almost all wooden buildings of the cloister. The community moved to another cloisters. In 1887 monk Gennadiy started to renew the monastery on the expenses of Kronstadt Father Ioann Sergiev. Along with Gennady he also renovated the cloister.

The monastery was built up again with spiritual and material help of "All-Russian Father" - St. Reverend Ioann Kronstadt, which stayed in the monastery several times. In 1892 he consecrated a new wooden church of Transfiguration. Both churches have five cupolas.

The spiritual influence of the cloister was so great that thousands pilgrims from all Russia gathered in it.

XX century. On the other shore of Vazheozero there is a skete and a church of St. Mitrofan, which was built in by abbot Mitrofan (1889-1911) on the place, which was considered to be sacred. There was a wooden chapel there for a long time. The Ruin of the cloister. After the Soviet Union was founded the life of the monastery was stopped. In 1923 the cloister was closed and there appeared to be a farm on its territory.

In 1935 the cloister was ruined. All the icons, books, the archives, and the walls were destroyed. A new village was built at that place.

After 1945there was a colony for the juvenile delinquents and mental hospital there. Certainly, when in 1993 the cloister was given to the Russian Orthodox Church, all the buildings were in emergency situation.

The RECOVERY of the MONASTERY. Since 1991 till November, 2000 the monastery was a female cloister. The scanty means received from the donations were enough only for small restoration works of the chapel and the hotel. The cloister provided itself with agricultural products. The liturgies were committed in wooden Church of Transfiguration. Step-by-step the church was restorated: the boards were repaired, and a new altar was made. The recovery of the belfry also started. Despite of all difficulties, the charter of the monastery was followed.

From the Mass media. 1992. "The first noticed and the most remarkable are the hands of Mother Serafima. They were sheeted with mud for she was working in the kitchen garden. She represented us to two of her sisters, which moved here only a year ago. She showed us the garden and two simple houses, in which they lived. She spoke Russian. We did not understand a word, but for us the most eloquent evidence of the special world of the monastery was her kind eyes, and beauty.
She led us to a tiny kitchen, washed her hands and started to cook very tasty dishes. After the meal she sent us to wander across the territory of the former monastery, which was confiscated by the state, and given to the mental clinic. We saw a small hospital building.
We gathered together in a small room of a wooden house, in which the church and a room were equipped".

The newspaper "KARELIA", which was published in 1995, :" Raising from the ruins ancient monastery, as all the restored cloisters in Russia, are suffering lots of troubles. For decades its churches were deserted.

Not long ago many of them were used by local people for entertainment. There was a youth disco in one of the buildings and a sports club in the other. Four years ago the monastery life came back to the cloister.

It is difficult for locals to get used to the traditional function of the cloister, sometimes they are angry with Mother Serafima. But she doesn’t give up. The pilgrims are coming to the monastery. Step-by-step the relations with the locals are getting better. Mother Serafima helps all people.

Today many people leave the village. No more than eighty people live in it permanently, the majority of them are retired.

The officials aren't interested in the cloister also. Still, the monastery leads a full life. The monks are constantly preying and it helps it to survive".

In 1999 the Cloister of Mitrofan, which was destroyed 20 years ago, was renewed. On March 20, 2000 a small wooden chapel burned down. Because of lack of finances, it was restored for a long time, and its renovation was finally finished only in 1999. The misfortune happened because of fault of the stove.

Since November, 2000 the cloister is again a male monastery. Now there are 20 men in it: 5 of them are priests, and 10 sisters of the female community.

On August 19, 2002, the monastery celebrated 110 anniversary of its consecration by the Reverend Joann Kronstadt. The church celebrations on this day were headed by the archbishop of Petrozavodsk and Karelia Manuil.

Annually a children's orthodox camp is organized here and the children of 9-14 years old participate in liturgies and have a rest. During summer up to 100 young people from Petrozavodsk spend their vacation here, joining to the prayers and labor.

To the PILGRIMS about the MONASTERIES. Sacred cloisters are founded by the God's grace. In them the monks are reaching impassivity and contemplation, and thus came in unification with the God. In the time, when the world is thrilled with different ideas and theories, the existence of the monasteries is a living evidence of the verity of our faith. The history of the monkshood in the Church is a history of glory and divinity. In a monastery the God is glorified, the devil is overthrown.

Dolefully, today not strong in the faith Christians, but feeble and poor people come to the monasteries.

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