Valaam: Soul journey

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vm1049On an island far from the mainland, the Valaam monastery is one of the Russian Orthodox Church's holiest and most isolated sites. Join James Brown as he meets the monks, mucks in with the volunteers, and encounters a special group of children in one of most spiritual places in the country.

The origins of Valaam Monastery are not clear. Situated in the frontier of civilization the monastery was often attacked and burned as the area was contested by both Russians and Swedes. As the monastery is not mentioned in documents before the 16th century, different dates - from the 10th to 15th centuries - have been proposed for its founding.

 

In Church tradition the founding of the Holy Transfiguration Valaam Monastery has been attributed to Ss. Sergius and Herman who were among the first missionaries to the city of Novgorod in the tenth century and created a monastery on Valaam Island in Lake Ladoga, north of Novgorod.

I recall a vivid page – in the past. Recently, as if to strengthen me, I have learnt that two novices, whom I saw in passing by on Valaam, and whom I noted in my notebook, have accomplished a feat during those years. I have learnt that they have become a "light unto the world", that they are alive. Valaam gave them an obedience. And so vivid links spread from this "now" – to the past, and this past is a light for me. In this light is that Valaam, far away. And I thought that it would be profitable to recall and relate about it: Valaam is the same as before, shining. - I.S.Shmelev.

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