Ancient Russian Orthodox Alexander-Svirsky monastery
The Holy Trinity Alexander Svirsky Russian Orthodox Monastery
Alexander-Svirsky Monastery is a Russian Orthodox monastery located 200 miles to the East from St. Petersburg. The Alexander Svirsky monastery was founded in 1487 by the Valaam monastery monk, the spiritual searcher, named Alexander. Alexander was born on June 15, 1448, in the village of Mandera on the Oyat River. He got a name Amos. Later in the year 1474, Amos received monastic tonsure with the name Alexander. Once in Valaam monastery, when standing at prayer, St. Alexander heard a Divine voice: "Alexander, depart from here and go to the place which was shown to you before, where you can be saved." The great light indicated him a place to the southeast, on the bank of the Svir River. It was in 1485. There he found "a pine forest of great beauty, the place full of trees and lakes and beautiful in all directions, and there none of the men have lived before." The Saint built a hut on the shore of Roshchinskoe Lake in the dense virgin forests not far from the Svir River - a waterway between Europe’s two largest lakes—Lake Onega and Lake Ladoga. St. Alexander spent there several years in total solitude, feeding himself not with bread but with the plants growing there.
The Holy Trinity God revealed Himself only twice to human sight. He first appeared to Abraham near the Oak of Mamre, marking the great mercy of God to mankind. The second time, Life-Creating Trinity appeared was to Alexander Svirsky. He was the one of All Saints of the Russian Church who was awarded the vision of the Holy Trinity and was told by God to build a church. This church gave birth to the twin Trinity and the Transfiguration abbies, known as the Alexander Svirsky Monastery. During the construction of another temple the Blessed Virgin itself visited him with the Eternal Infant and angels. The Blessed Virgin told him to build the temple in her honor, and promised her protection of this mansion for all times. God revealed His luminary to the boyar Andrew Zavalishin and later through him to many others. The monastery began to grow, and the glory of the saint’s clairvoyance and healing of physical and spiritual infirmities gifts quickly spread all over the neighboring land. The Orthodox people glorified Alexander of Svir as a saint even in his lifetime.
The monastery founder Alexander Svirsky died on August 30, 1533 and was buried at the Transfiguration cathedral in the Monastery. He was snctified by the Russian Orthodox church in 1547. In 1641 the relics of St. Alexander Svirsky were found. Untouched by decay, they exuded fragrant scent and myrrh. The relics are still truly unique, the body of Alexander Svirsky is still uncorrupted by time and wear. The facial features are still preserved with the face with the face skin not shrunken dry but smooth and elastic.
The Alexander Svirsky monastery was the popular destination for tsars and emperors piligrimages. Throughout the centuries-old existence the monastery was ruined by the Polish-Lithuanian and Swedish interventions, huge losses suffered and after Bolsheviks (communists) revolution. After 1918 the relics were taken away, the monks dispersed, some of them shot, including the abbot - Archimandrite Eugene Trofimov. During the Soviet time Alexander Svirsky monastery was used as a prison (Gulag-Svirlag), mental hospital and the orphanage. During the WW II time the monastery was under the Finnish troops occupation.
The new life in the monastery started in 1997. The biggest event in the life of the monastery was recovering the relics of the founder of the monastery - Saint Alexander Svirsky in St. Petersburg Military Medical academy anatomical museum - which happened on July 30, 1998.
Photos: © Andrew Dachnick.