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Solovetsky Monastery

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A great organizer, Fr. Philip proceeded to put to use the economic power of the monastery. The infrastructure of the monastery was changed greatly. He began using stone for the monastery buildings. He built canals, harbors, and roads, while continuing the traditions of education and iconography. Between 1558 and 1566, [[Hegumen]] Philip supervised the construction of the five domed Cathedral of the Holy Transfiguration at Solovki. In spite of the reputation that his family held in the court of the tsar, Fr. Philip was elevated to Metropolitan of Moscow on [[July 20]], 1566 by Tsar Ivan IV (the Terrible). His tenure as [[metropolitan]] was short as the relationship between Fr. Philip and Ivan deteriorated; Fr. Philip opposed Ivan’s ‘‘oprichnina’‘. After a trial in November 1568 Metr. Philip was sentenced to exile at the Tver Otroch Monastery where he was strangled on [[December 23]], 1569. He was glorified in 1591.
During the reign of Ivan IV, the government made constant use of the remoteness of Solovetsky Island as a place of exile and detention. More than 400 persons were sent in exile to the island. The island would remain the only official prison of the Russian state until the nineteenth century, a place where many people of note were imprisoned, much to the lament of the [[clergy]] as [[ArchjmandriteArchimandrite]] Illarii wrote, “the name Solovki became terrible in the history of Russia.” It wasn’t until 1903 that the prison operation ceased to exist, but again to rise again some twenty years later.
In 1571, the Germans, Swedes, and Finns began to move into the White Sea, advancing into new territories. As the wooden stockades around Solovki were only intended for light protection and were easily destroyed by a determined force, construction began in 1582 of stone fortifications, making Solovki a formidable fortress. The monastic fortress thus preserved Russian possession of these northern lands.
In 1651, the abbot of Solovki Monastery, Ilya, was raised to the dignity of archimandrite, a title that all subsequent abbots of Solovki would hold. By this time Solovki Monastery held about 350 monks, supported by some 600 to 700 lay workers.
When Patriarch Nikon issued the revised liturgical books in 1658, the monks of Solovki looked at them as a perversion of the ancient and pure Orthodox teaching and firmly refused to accept new corrected books. Initially, Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich attempted to use peaceful means to influence the monks. But, after an extended time of unsuccessful negotiations with the monks, the tsar decided to use force. Regular soldiers were sent against the recalcitrant monks. The siege of the monastery lasted for seven years, from 1668 until January 1676, before the monks were overwhelmed. Many of the monks were killed and of the survivors many became spiritual leaders of the [[Old Believers|Old Believer]] movement. While the monastery remained among the richest, its economy never recovered fully from this revolt.
In the late eighteenth century the importance of Solovki as a fortress diminished after Catherine II’s church land reforms. In 1854, during the Crimean war, two British frigates approached the monastery fortress, demanding surrender. After the monastery’s Archimandrite Alexander refused, the British conducted a nine hour cannon fire siege. Although the ships fired about 1,600 shoots, they abandoned the siege without causing any human casualties or any significant damage to the buildings of the monastery.

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