16 July 2018, the restoration of the temple of the Holy Prince Alexander Nevsky Herman’s monastery on the island Soskuanjoki last torn down the temple of Old Valaam, reports the Synodal Department for monasteries and monasticism.
This Church was transferred to the Spaso-Preobrazhensky Valaam monastery a few days ago in very poor condition.
“Dear fathers, brothers, sisters!
Today is a special holiday in our Holy Valaam monastery – the feast of the Valaam icon of Mother of God, Abbess of our Northern Athos, – said the Abbot of Valaam monastery Bishop Trinity Pankraty. – The mother of God of Valaam in his manner appeared to us in those years when the monastery flourished in its existence: many of the monks filled the monastery, among the monks were many ascetics, created wonderful temples and hermitages.
One of the temples that arose at this time in the most beautiful place in the lake Ladoga area was the temple of the Saint Grand Prince Alexander Nevsky in Herman’s skete. This temple was built in the beginning of the XX century, in 1904 was consecrated, and there began to be regular worship for the brethren, who carried his obedience in the monastery on one of the most remote Islands, where the monastery of the quarry.
It so happened that a week ago, this Church was transferred to the Valaam monastery. The third day I was there. What appeared before my eyes, worthy of tears, because this Church is almost ruined: milled chancel, on the roof of the temple is encircled with large trees. Thank God that those who come there to pray, drew near the temple – it is clean, not polluted, although the inscriptions on the walls say that people have been there since the late 40-ies.
In the temple are small icons to take home, put a cross in the place of the iconostasis, and this means that prayer has not yet faded from the hearts and with the help of God and people we will be able to restore this temple. We remember that in 2021 will celebrate the 800 year anniversary of the birth of Saint blessed Grand Prince Alexander Nevsky. And, of course, our fraternity has an obligation to restore the Valaam Shrine. This is our last temple, which today is in such poor condition.
From the trip I returned to the great enthusiasm and with the intention of all our efforts to bring the Valaam Shrine of abomination and desolation and to the rebuilt temple again, divine Liturgy for all those who will live there, to struggle, and for pilgrims seeking solace.
Now we make common prayer for the beginning of a good cause – the rebuilding of the temple. All are asked to assist the congregational prayer. Also, I invite everyone, especially young men, young people, men who feel in themselves the strength and desire to work for the Glory of God gratuitously and voluntarily. Now there are many quite simple works on debris collection and destruction of bushes and trees. All are invited this year to begin work on the restoration of the temple. Save, O Lord!”
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The Old Valaam was 13 hermitages. Today, renewed the monastic life in eleven monasteries: St. Nicholas, the skete of All saints, the Baptist, St. Sergius, Elias, Svyatoostrovsky, Smolensk, Gethsemane, resurrection, Konevsky, St. Vladimir. With the blessing of his Holiness Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Kirill, work is underway on the construction of three buildings: the restored historic skete in the name of the monk Abraham of Rostov, Kazan skete, the skete of St. Seraphim of Sarov on Papirenska the island.
In the annals of the monastery in 1878 was preserved a description of the outer Islands, on which there was Herman and Sergius monasteries: “the Area is excellent and majestic: the amazing beauty of the giant stone mountain with a height of 30 fathoms. A vertical wall, like the invincible fortress, they stand in a line against one another. Their surface zelenitsa forests and different plants. In the foothills of the beautiful spread of green fields and meadows and diverse forest; meanwhile, there are ponds full of fish, and on the surface of these lakes are found in many ducks and loons”.
Then on the island of St. Herman began to settle the most Northern, most remote and one of the largest hermitages of the monastery, the monastery in the name of St. Herman, the Valaam miracle-worker.
And in the first decade of the XX century there were already numerous buildings: two-storey wooden buildings for the brethren with cells for the monks, warehouses and sheds for livestock. The monks were engaged in agriculture, fishing and tending to my fruit garden. On the shore there was a nice pier where the court came to Balaam. Just 300 metres from the Church, in the coastal rocks of the island by the forces of monks, novices and workers until the 1910-ies were extracted by the “Valaam” granite, which is exported by barge to the island of Valaam, St.-Petersburg and Moscow.
However, their life is not obedience, prayer, and equipping of the skit implies, first of all, construction of spiritual life. Originally the island had a chapel in the name of the monk Herman of Valaam, it was subsequently dismantled. In 1901, when Abbot Gabriel, was built a Church in honour of Saint blessed Prince Alexander Nevsky.
Stone Alexander Nevsky Church in Herman’s skete was built by architect Nikolai Dmitrievich Prokofiev. This graceful building was constructed of red brick Valaam production with the use of Ladoga stone. The building was completed in the period of father Abbot Vitaly (1903-1905). The solemn consecration was performed by Archbishop of Finland and Vyborg Nicholas 25 Jul 1904.
From the memoirs of Nicholas Saiki, the former for many years a novice at Valaam: “Dozens of small things, of course, has already disappeared from memory – all not to remember. In the summer when I was busy haymaking in Succursale (Succursale – monastic estate near Herman’s skete on the shore of the Strait Syslocale. – Approx. ed.), every Saturday and Sunday he read and sang on the worship of the priesthood of Peony. Every Saturday evening, reading the akathist to St. Alexander Nevsky. Each island was it’s Church or the chapel, and conducted prayers, if at hand were a monk”.
Brethren Herman’s monastery were few. Great help brother SkyTeam assisted those who were sent from the convent at the hottest time of haymaking and harvest. So, Nicholas Saiki wrote: “in the Spring updated the shingles on the roof of barns and other buildings. I got to work replacing shingles on the roof of the main building at the monastery in Succursale 30 kilometers from the monastery. A month later, the steamer came for the brethren and with the news that I, brother Nicholas, are here to mow the hay. One had to take care of the mower and sharpening its six-foot blades. It harnessed two horses, so it was not a toy. So in the monastery taught the brethren to different obediences, speaking worldly language professions”.
Valaam granite, which was mined in the quarries on the island of St. Herman, is a crystalline rock gray and red colors. Whether for your noble color, or because he was a favorite stone of the emperors of Russia, this stone before and was called “Royal”.
After 1940, the monks of Old Valaam were forced to leave the Ladoga Islands, stopped the monastic life and in the skete of St. Herman.
The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral Herman’s monastery on the island Soskujansaari (so today is called the island, which earlier bore the name of St. Herman) is in poor condition. As recorded by one of the travelers, “the building (the Church) is destroyed, the cross is shot through in several places and bent, making the bottom one gets the impression that it depicts the crucifixion. In some places preserved patterned iron railings. Next to the Church of the Finns, a memorial sign”.
The barbarians continue to beat against the window of the temple pieces of marble, stones from the base slowly taken away.
Over the last two decades in the field several times changed the owner of the quarry. In 1990-e years there have been attempts to establish on the island of sawing and processing of granite blocks and products from them. So there were huge hangars, spoiling the landscape of the former Valaam monastery.
But time goes by and what seemed unthinkable becomes possible. So, have already taken the first steps to restore Sergius skete (Isle Putsaari), and it gives hope that there will come a time when the skete of St. Herman will once again be filled with life.