History of Valaam island
The war between Finland and USSR
In 1939 the war between Finland and USSR began. Monastery brothers lived on the Valaam island almost to the end of the war. But the oldest brothers were evacuated in January 1940.
The Brothers had to completely leave the Island in March 13. When Finland became independent after the Russian revolution some monks from monastery on Ladoga were in Saint-Petersburg and Moscow courtyards. Those monks who had Finnish passports were able to return to Finland, but many of those who had to stay were killed. Those monks became new martyrs of Valaam.
When brethren left the monastery they carried icons, liturgical vestments, the painting collection and the main library. This library numbered 20,000 books.
Everyone understood that the Winter war was only an overture to the coming battle.
The brothers liked small manor in a quiet place of Finland.
They saw three good signs. Firstly, the barn was with the same cows as on Valaam. Later they inspected all the estate and found the small icon of St. Sergiy and Herman of Valaam. When the brothers tried to leave this estate their car stopped for three times it was also a third sign. They understood that it was need to bought this estate.
The Valaam island was a monastic beacon for Saint-Petersburg before revolution. The memories of people who departed from Kalashnikovskaya embankment were memories about pilgrims. Some people said that a pilgrim is a person who survived death in his life. The Ladoga lake is dangerous and huge that is a reason why it needs not only to swim. It is a path to the shrine and everyone needs to pass it and when Nikolskiy priory appeared unexpectedly away with its temple-beacon it would be a haven.
In ancient times The Valaam island was a place of pagan temples. The stones of the altars watered with the blood of human victims more than once and splashing blood into the eyes of pilgrims. Someone said that every stone had a tear of every prayer and every tree had the own prayer.
The Valaam became a missionary in the northern lands of old Russia this fact it was the fate of this Island. It was not only a political outpost, it was a spiritual outpost. The Greek monks founded this monastery some legends said. These monks influenced to Novgorod the Great and then there are church writing and church schools developed because of relations between Greeks and Russians.
Valaam island Russia
There are not reliable sources about the creation of monastery.
There are only church traditions. There is a fact that the relics of the monks Sergiy and Herman were brought from Novgorod while military activities were there in XII century.
The Confirmation that the monastery arose very early is not only a fact of transferring relics but the words about monastery are mentioned in different legends. There is mention of the fact that the Monk Avramiy from Rostov was baptized on Valaam before the official baptism of old Russia in the most early editions.
In the 15th century the monastery was called the great honest monastery. For centuries, Valaam Brotherhood did not expose the sword and did not spill the enemy’s blood.
The Valaam island was bombed. There was a time when the island of Valaam was released and it did not belong to anyone. Igumen Khariton returned with some brothers to see the state of Valaam.
Transfiguration began for earth and stone. The land on Valaam was not fruitful. But it bore fruit. Igumen Damaskin corresponded with the director of the Botanical Garden. He personally planted favorite cedars. There was a garden on Valaam. The prototype of the Garden of Eden.
Not only the earth was transformed, but also the human soul. People came and saw that they can transform.
By the 17th century, Valaam was ruined very badly and for almost a century there was no monastic life here. And only during the time of Peter the Great, who issued a corresponding decree, the restoration of monastic life began again.
And only at the end of the XVIII century, Rev. Nazarii appeared on Valaam.
At the beginning of the XIX century, the Grand Duchy of Finland was part of Russia.
Wonderful Valaam became part of it. Imperial personages repeatedly visited the monastery.
But the real golden age came with Abbot of Damascus. In his time the main monasteries of Valaam were laid. And at the same time a lot of devotees were here.
An exemplary monastery economy, a fishing farm, and water supply system were created. There were 30 workshops, where objects and church utensils were created everyday. Watches and steam engines were created there.
At that time, famous artists and musicians came to Valaam. They left their work here at the museum. Tchaikovsky could to hear Valaam. He dedicated one of his symphonies to this monastery.
When Finland gained independence, most of the brothers took Finnish citizenship. But confusion soon began with the church calendar. The new calendar, approved by the Finnish Orthodox Church, divided the brothers. Those who did not accept such changes, was forced to leave the monastery. The usual ties collapsed. There is not enough food. There are famine and epidemic came to monastery. There is a fact that at this time Abbot Khariton was at the head of the monastery, the man was very wise and spiritual, the monastery resisted.
Disabled people removed from the city after the war. Removed to Valaam. Valaam Disability Home was intended for war veterans. But afterwards not only veterans, but also mentally ill people were brought there, quiet people and violent.
There was a grocery warehouse in the Lower Cathedral. There were 2 fridges in front of the altar on the both sides and frozen meat was stored there.
December 13, 1989
December 13, 1989 – The Day of Remembrance of St. Andrew. The first monks landed in the monastery bay. There is monastic life began on Valaam after the blessing of the Apostle Andrew,. Everything lived with waiting for Valaam returning.
There was seriously discussed in the Leningrad newspapers the question of building up Valaam and placing an elite recreation area. There should have been a cable car, hotels. And suddenly an incredible decision on the transfer of Valaam was confirm. It seemed impossible. It seemed like a miracle.
Yeltsin came to Valaam in 1992. There was signed a presidential decree on the transfer of Valaam Russian Orthodox Church.
Now there are 2 Valaam. One - in Russia. One is in Finland.
How to get to Valaam?
You can see Valaam in one day. But we recommend not to rush, enjoy and hear the real Valaam on a tour of Valaam Rhapsody.