Sviatohirsk Lavra

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Saint John of Sviatohirsk, 1795-1867, hermit and wonderworker of Sviatohirsk Cave Monastery.

The Sviatohirsk Lavra or the Sviatohirsk Cave Monastery (Ukrainian: Свято-Успенська Святогорська Лавра; Russian: Свято-Успенская Святогорская лавра) is an Orthodox Christian monastery near the city of Sviatohirsk in Donetsk Oblast (province) of eastern Ukriane. The lavra is located on the right bank of the Seversky Donets River. The name of the lavra comes from the name of the hill upon which it sits — Sviatohirsk or Holy Hill.


Although monks had settled in the area since the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the first written reference to the monastery is from 1526. By 1624, the monastery was recognized as the Sviatohirsk Uspensky Monastery. Situated in the frontier area between Russia and the Crimean Khanate areas to the south, the monastery was devastated several times, requiring repeated restorations. In 1787, the government under Catherine II (Catherine the Great) restored the monastery. In 1844, the monastery was again restored through the generosity of Aleksandr Mikhailovisch Potemkin and his wife Tatiana Borisovna.

The monastery became of significance importance to Russia in the southwest, particularly during the seventy years before World War I. Approximately 600 monks lived in the monastery during this period. The monastery possessed various work shops and trade centers. The Dormition Cathedral, designed by Alexey Gornostaev, was the center point building of the monastery and included a Byzantine style tower.

After the Bolsheviks assumed control of the Russian government in late 1917 the monastery was converted, in 1922, into a residence. The monastery was destroyed again in the 1930s during the purges by the Soviets of religious attractions throughout the Soviet Union

After Ukraine gained independence with the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the monastery was restored in 1992, and the buildings rebuilt. In 2004, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church restored the monastery to its status as a lavra. Today, the growing monastery community consists of more than 100 monks.

On October 25, 2005, the monastery was honored when a depiction of it was placed on a ten hryvnia commemorative coin.

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