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Lukashenko, Putin visit Valaam

President 17.07.2019 | 15:36

VALAAM, 17 July (BelTA) – Aleksandr Lukashenko and President of Russia Vladimir Putin visited the Valaam Monastery of the Transfiguration of the Savior on the island of Valaam, Lake Ladoga, in the Republic of Karelia, Russia, BelTA has learned.

Lukashenko on working visit to RussiaLukashenko on working visit to Russia
In St. Petersburg Aleksandr Lukashenko and Russia President Vladimir Putin will attend the plenary meeting of the 6th Forum of Regions of Belarus and Russia in St. Petersburg on 18 July

The heads of state toured the monastery's grounds and visited the main temple of the monastery. There they approached the relics of Sergius and Herman, the founders of the Valaam Monastery, the relics of Antipas of Valaam, and the icon of the Mother of God of Valaam. Near the icon the presidents and the Belarus president's son Nikolai Lukashenko lit candles.

Clergymen welcomed the presidents upon arrival in the monastery. While talking to them Aleksandr Lukashenko noted: “The first thing I told him [Vladimir Putin] was I am glad I will come here for the first time together with my friend.”

After that the heads of state examined the All Saints hermitage, the church of the Smolensk Icon of the Mother of God in the Smolensk hermitage, and visited the chapel consecrated in honor of the family of Tsar Nicholas II. The heads of state also visited Svetly Island. After that they went to see the Saint Vladimir hermitage where the Vladimir church is located. They were made familiar with the exposition of the monastery's museum.

On the way from Valaam to Saint Petersburg the heads of state visited another famous sanctuary - the Konevsky Monastery of the Nativity of the Theotokos located on Konevets Island. Aleksandr Lukashenko and Vladimir Putin bowed to the relics of St. Arseny Konevsky who founded the church, lit candles and toured the upper part of the Church of the Nativity of the Theotokos.

BelTA quoted the Belarus president as saying during his meeting with State Secretary of the Union State of Belarus and Russia Grigory Rapota last week: “We are not going to make some secret decisions on Valaam. It was a proposal of the Russian president. It is a sacred place of the Russian Orthodox Church. I just have to visit the place. I am grateful that he will personally show me around and tell me how the place is being restored and what has been done. Nothing secret.”

Today the heads of state are meeting in an informal setting. The central event of the 6th Forum of Regions of Belarus and Russia will take place in St Petersburg on 18 July and the presidents will take part in it. Apart from that, time for bilateral talks between the heads of state has been scheduled. They are expected to discuss the advancement of Belarus-Russia trade and economic cooperation. Interaction within the framework of the Union State of Belarus and Russia will also be discussed.

It is not clear when the monastery was founded. According to some chronicles, a place for the cloister was designated by Apostle Andrew the First Called in the 1st century. Another source refers the time of founding to the 10th - 11th centuries. Documentary sources such as the Tale of Valaam Monastery say that the monastery was founded in 1407. The monastery had its heyday in the 15th-16th centuries when the monk population reached 600.

Subsequent years marked the architectural development of the monastery. Yet it suffered a lot, particularly during wars between Russia and Sweden, and also during a fire. By the 19th century Valaam Monastery re-flourished. Many architectural buildings were built at that time. They have survived till present day and are considered objects of historical and cultural heritage.

After the Soviet-Finnish military clashes the Valaam Archipelago once again came into the possession of Russia. The buildings began to be used for civilian needs. In the 1960s, the authorities began to organize tours for those who wanted to see Valaam. The museum-reserve was opened in 1979.

The monastery started getting back to old ways in 1989. The main buildings were transferred to the Leningrad Eparchy. The first monks came in December 1989. There were 6 of them.

All architectural structures of the Valaam Monastery have been restored by now. There is a bakery, a hotel, dairy and fish farms. In 2018 the monastery population numbered 217 people. In addition, the monastery employs around fifty trudniks (people working at an Orthodox monastery or a church on a voluntary basis free of charge). The monastery draws 100,000-200,000 visitors annually.

The main halidom of the Valaam Monastery is relics of the venerable Sergius and Herman of Valaam. The holy remains are kept in the Church of the Transfiguration of the Savior on the grounds of the monastery.

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