The term lavra is a name given to large, rich monasteries of importance that enjoy special privileges and are cultural centers in the regions they occupy.
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Among the noted lavras is the Monastery of the Great Lavra on the Athos Peninsula. This monastery, founded by the monk St. Athanasius the Athonite in 963, is the earliest and the mother monastery of the Athonite communities.
In the Slavic world (under the Moscow Patriarchate: Church of Russia and Church of Ukraine) there are five lavras of particular note:
- Kiev Pechersk Lavra in Kiev, Ukraine. This monastery, often called the Monastery of the Kiev Caves, was founded in 1051 by Anthony of the Caves and Theodosius.
- Pochayiv Lavra (Pochaev) has for centuries been the foremost spiritual and ideological centre of various Orthodox denominations in Western Ukraine. The monastery tops a 60-metre hill in the town of Pochayiv, Ternopil Oblast, 18 km southwest of Kremenets and 50 km north of Ternopil. It was established a lavra in 1833.
- Trinity Lavra of St Sergius at Sergiyev Posad, Russia, was founded in 1345 by Sergius of Radonezh, the most venerated of Russian saints. Tsarina Elizabeth elevated the monastery to the dignity of a lavra in 1744.
- Alexander Nevsky Lavra in St Petersburg, Russia, was founded as a monastery in 1710 and was not finished until 1790. The monastery was elevated to the status of a lavra in 1797.
- Uspensko-Svyatogorskaya Lavra has been a Lavra since 2004