From a humble hut to a Monastery

raifa-monastery-of-the-mother-of-god-kazan-russia+1152_12963428809-tpfil02aw-17613This last weekend the wife and I were invited to the Raifa Monastery which is located 30 km outside Kazan. I must admit I was excited for several reasons first of all it would be time to spend with my wife, see a bit of Tatarstan, and to enjoy my hobby of photography. I had no idea that this monastery is one of the most visited in all of Russia and certainly didn’t know any of it’s history. If you go to the previous post you will see a picture of these flowers that are being birthed out of the water. Take a count of how many  are in bloom and those which are budding. Did you count 15? This is the same number according to the Kazan Eparchial Register of 1739, on the territory of the holy abode that 15 temples including side-chapels where built (interesting). These temples and chapels were built from contributions made by the Metropolitan Tikhon and the wealthy citizens of Kazan during this same year.

In 1613 a monk by the name of  Filaret came to Kazan from the Chudov Monastery where he witnessed the martyrdom of St. Patriarch Hermogen. When he entered the community of the Kazan Savior’s Transfiguration Monastery, very quickly he realized the worldly clamor  disturbed the peace of the monastic life he had once lived. Filaret found himself seeking solitude in the forests, which surrounded Kazan. During one of these excursions he found himself in a place amidst the forest, on the shore of a picturesque lake. It was here upon this shore that he built himself this humble little hut.  At first he lived in complete solitude except for occasions when a local tribe called the Cheremiss would come and perform their pagan rituals. But soon the place became well know by the Kazan citizens because he would spend so much time in prayer, solitude, and fasting. It was through these efforts they venerated him and started visiting him in the woods. Some of them made up their minds to devote their lives to the same monastic exploits and settled nearby. This led the way for a foundation of a monastic skete on the shore of this beautiful place.

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One of the very first building that is seen when approaching the monastery is the  bell-tower,  over-the-gate Church of Archangel Michael, and Trinity Cathedral as seen above. During my research I learned of a very interesting legend concerning the building of the bell tower. It start when Hegumen Veniamin was going to reconstruct the tower, but he had serious doubts about undertaking this project of which he had neither money nor the materials required to build such a building. Not having anyone to address for a counsel, he decided to consult about the problem with a child, whom he accidentally met on the street. So, he left the cloister, walked about a kilometer when saw a woman with a little girl. When they approached, the priest blessed them and asked the girl’s name. She said her name was Masha. When the hegumen asked Masha (Maria) about her age, to his great surprise the girl said she was about 30 million years old. But the girl’s mother said the child was about four years old. The hegumen asked Masha whether he should or should not build the bell-tower. – Yes Build it, – see saidThe elder blessed the child and returned to the monastery.2013-07-21 01.40.13

On the same day he gave orders that the workers had to be employed, and the scaffoldings and instrumentals prepared. The next day merchant Mikhail Atlashkin arrived at the monastery and told the hegumen that he was going to make a donation of one million bricks to the monastery, but was afraid, whether it would be an appropriate gift at the moment. The hegumen was surprised. “Yes, we have just decided to raise the bell-tower and we need a lot of bricks”. The same day Atlashkin started to supply the bricks.

On September 14, 1891 on the celebration of the Exaltation of the Life-Giving Cross the new belfry was crowned with the cross. In 1903 the altar of the church over the gates was consecrated in honor of the Archangel Michael, the heavenly patron of merchant Mikhail Atlashkin.

poslushniki_16582407407At present, the holy abode is going through a new period of bloom. The monastery is famous for its ecclesial and social activity. The brethren organized an orphanage, which is home for thirty orphans. They started a parish school. There is a library and a computerized laboratory. Most of the monks are the correspondent students of the Moscow Orthodox St. Tikhon’s Theological Institute and other theological seminaries. The monastery is the well-known centre of pilgrimage both for the ordinary believers and for the prominent public and political figures, and for the workers of the Russian culture. Nowadays, the Raifa Monastery is the largest in the Kazan diocese.

The following pictures are from around the grounds of the monastery. I hope that you enjoy.

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