Sretensky Monastery

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Sretensky Monastery
Jurisdiction Church of Russia
Type Male Monastery
Founded 1397
Superior Archim. Tikhon (Shevkunov)
Approx. size at least 40
Location Moscow
Liturgical language(s) Slavonic
Music used Russian Chant
Calendar Julian
Feastdays celebrated September 8
Official website unknown

Sretensky Monastery (Russian: Сретенский монастырь) is a monastery in Moscow, Russia, founded by Grand Prince Vasily I in 1397. Originally located close to the present-day Red Square, it was moved in the early 16th century to what is now Bolshaya Lubyanka Street. Many of the streets in the vicinity of the Sretensky Monastery now bear the monastery's name.


The name of the monastery is derived from an historical event. In the fourteenth century, Moscow was threatened by an imminent invasion by the Tatar Tamerlane who was then devastating the southern Russian countryside, including Ryazan. As the army under Grand Prince Vasily was preparing to do battle, Metropolitan Kiprian of Moscow ordered that the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God be brought from Vladimir to Moscow to protect the capital from the invasion. Clergy of the Dormition Cathedral in Moscow were sent to Vladimir to bring the icon. In a grand procession the icon was carried to Moscow. The procession was met on August 26, 1395, by Metr. Kiprian, Muscovites, and the ruling prince, not far from the Kremlin, from whence the icon continued to the Dormition Cathedral in the Kremlin. Soon thereafter, the armies of Tamerlane retreated and the grateful prince established the monastery to commemorate the miracle.

Two years later, the Sretensky Monastery was established on the place of the "meeting" of the miracle-working icon of Our Lady of Vladimir that occurred before the retreat of the Tatar force. The name "Sretensky" is derived from the Church Slavonic word Stretenie, meaning "meeting."

Over the years, Sretensky Monastery became associated with many historical personalities. In 1552, the monastery was visited by Ivan IV after his conquest of Kazan who awarded generous donations to monastery. In later years, the tsars came to the monastery as pilgrims and financed the monastery's building program. The monastery took an active part in bringing Mikhail Fyodorovich to the throne of Russia, in 1613. The Moscow elite as well common people came to the monastery for prayers as they started on pilgrimages. Among the people who visited the monastery were Patriarch Nikon and the Metropolitans of Moscow Platon (Levshin) and Philaret (Drozdov). In Soviet times, Patriarch Tikhon served often at the monastery. Sergei Izvekov, the future Patriarch Pimen, took his monastic vows at the monastery on December 4, 1925.

After the Bolshevik seizure of power in 1917, the monastery became a "battleground" between the Church and the Soviet-supported Renovationists movement, also known as the Living Church. In 1922, the monastery was seized by the Renovationists. In 1923, through the efforts of Archbishop Hilarion (Troitsky), the abbot of the monastery, it was returned to the Orthodox Church and was reconsecrated. However, because of his activities, Abp. Hilarion was soon exiled and then imprisoned for six years in a concentration camp at Solovki before he died.

At the end of 1925, Sretensky Monastery was closed by the Bolsheviks and most of the churches and other buildings in the compound were destroyed. These included the Churches of St. Mary of Egypt and St. Nicholas, the gate and bell tower, and the abbot's residence. In the buildings remaining, the People's Commissariat of Internal Affairs (NKVD) commanders established themselves. The grounds of the monastery became the execution area for the central "Cheka," the predecessor of the KGB, and the cemetery was turned into a school for studying advanced French.

Of all the major buildings of the old monastery only the Cathedral of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God (собор Сретения Владимирской иконы Богоматери) remained. The monastery was returned by the new government to the Church of Russia in 1991. However, for years the cathedral had been used by a group of Renovationists. A confrontation began when Patriarch Alexei II decreed that a representation (metochion) of the Pskov-Caves Monastery would be established at the site of the old Sretensky Monastery. After a battle of words and propaganda, the Bolshevik Renovationists were banished and the cathedral was reconsecrated. In 1993, Archimandrite Tikhon (Shevkunov) was designated as Father Superior with a population of some 40 monastics. In 1995, the patriarch issued a decree transforming the metochion into the Sretensky Stavropeghial Monastery. ("Stavropeghial" means being under the direct administrative authority of the patriarch.)


Sretensky Monastery is now one of the most important centers of Orthodox religious life and education in Russia. The cathedral is being restored, including restoration of the iconostasis according to the ancient canons. In addition to the daily Divine Liturgy and regular monastic life, the monastery has become one of the largest publication houses in Russia.

On September 8 O.S., 1995, the Patronal day of the monastery, the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God was brought from the State Tryetyakov Gallery for two days. In spite of heavy rains, more than 30,000 believers participated in the procession at the monastery. The relics of the martyred Abp. Hilarion (Troitsky) were moved from St. Petersburg to the monastery in May 1999.

During the autumn of 1999, a new educational institution was established at the monastery. The Sretensky High Orthodox College (seminary) was founded to prepare well-educated clergy who are not only knowledgeable in theology but also in modern scientific and cultural matters and problems. The college offers studies in the two following disciplines: Orthodox theology and apologetics.

Two sketes (hermitages) are attached to the monastery. The first skete, which is for men, is dedicated to St. Seraphim of Sarov and is located the Ryazan region. The monks reside in the reconstructed Krasnoye mansion. The second skete, for women, is dedicated to God's Prophet Elijah and is located in the Moscow area. The nuns participate in the activities of the monastery.


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