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  960 - 1581 | 1611 - 1853 | 1855 - 1885 | 1886 -1939 | 1939 - 1996 | Abbots  

The annals of Valaam 960 - 1581

Transferring of relics of St.Sergius and St.Herman of Valaam.

The year 960

The year 960 saw the arrival of Saint Avraamiy of Rostov at Valaam. Upon reaching Valaam the great Avraamiy said

["... and these Saints who went away from people and settled in a hermitage came to the Great Lake of Ladoga and found an abode called Valaam, came in and lived and saw a place remote from cities with few men, and wished to stay there and were accepted, and, seeing good welfare of the brothers, started praying that the pastor of that cloister be given angel's image..."]

At the end of the 19th century, a hiterto unknown copy of the life of Saint Avraamiy, durring the previous century, was found. It was in these writings that the following dates were given for the first time. The year of repose of Sergiy and Herman,[on Valaam] was recorded as 1010, the year of discovering the relics, [in the Avraamiy text] is given as 1175. Other sources put the date in the 1160's. That these dates basically correspond with other ancient works is shown by their inclusion in the ancient service books to Saint Avraamiy of Rostov, which themselves date back to the 12th and 14th centuries.

The year of 1163

The year 1163 is also given as the year of the discovery/moving of the relics of Saint Sergiy and Saint Herman the Valaam Miracle-Makers, as reported by the Novgorodian [Uvarov] Chroniclers, [themselves well known to 19th century historians]. It was in that year, 1163 [6671, from Adam], that Archbishop John was assigned to Great Novgorod, being the first Archbishop so given to Great Novgorod. Archbishop John's assignment to this city was significant as earlier only bishops had served there. Early in the time of Archbishop John's spiritual leadership, according to the chronicles, the relics of the two great Valaam saints were moved to Novgorod, for the first time, due to the threat of military action by the Swedes. The necessity of this move is made clear by a number of reliable sources originating from Novgorod including direct reference to the "Ancient Chronicler".

At the end of the 19th century, another vital source was found - the "Russian Chronicle" in the Sophia copy of the Great Novgorod texts, (Pogodin's collection). Historians attributing the appearance of Valaam Monastery to the 14th century believe that all church dates were entered into the Narva Chronicles later, while the Pogodin's extract itself only duplicates this later inclusion. However, in newly found pieces of chronicles, [writing about the movement of the relics in cc 1163-64] make it possible to speak about the existence of a single ancient chronicle source, the originally provided data, from which others were coppied, rather than about a compilation. Thus, in a book of collected works of the 17th century from Pogodin's collection, on sheet 89, there is again information on the movement of the relics and a reference to the source of the data: "Extract from a book of the Novgorod Chronicler of Antoniy Monastery". Obviously, one of the copies of the Chronicler protograph was kept at Antoniyevo-Dymsky Monastery.

A further indication to the existence of the ancient Novgorod Chronicler can be encountered in a manuscript from N.P.Likhachyov's collection "About Saint Bishops and Archbishops and Saint Miracle-Makers from Great Novgorod". A proof of this is found in chronicle extracts of the 17th-18th centuries:

["Saint Fathers Sergiy and Herman on the Valaam Lake. There was a monastery there, and Aleksandr Svirsky became a monk there, now it is empty. Swedes and Germans ravaged it. Their relics are unknown now. There is only a chapel standing"],

before this the Chronicler writes:

["their relics were discovered in the year 6671 (1163) and moved to the Savior's cloister on the Valaam Island in the year 6690 (1182) in the times of the Novgorod Archbishop John the Miracle-Maker"].

The fact of discovering and moving the relics of Saint Sergiy and Saint Herman in the 12th century is also proven by the "Valaam Conversation" ("Valaamskaya Beseda") text that was widely spread in Russia. The distribution of copies of the "Conversation" in itself shows the high spiritual regard in which Saint Sergiy and Saint Herman were held. Without a doubt, the beginning of the "Conversation" should be considered as further evidence of the discovery and movement of the relics in the 12th century. Quoting the "conversation" document:

["movement and discovery of the relics of our Saint Fathers Sergiy and Herman the Valaam Miracle-Makers, the heads of that Valaam monastery from Great Novgorod to the Karelian area of the All-Merciful Saviour..."],

and prior, regarding the invasion of Swedes into Karelia:

["Swedes came to Ladoga, and the people of Ladoga burnt their houses...].

1179 - 1180

The period from the late 1170's to the 1190's [according to differing sources] saw the fourth and last movement of the relics of Saint Sergiy and Herman from Novgorod to Valaam. Upon arrival at the monastery, cc 1179-80, the relics stayed for some time in the place where the Pokrov Chapel is now situated. More reliable is the point of view that the relics were moved from Novgorod to Valaam in 1182, as it is proven by a number of the chronicle sources mentioned above. The church historians do not confirm that this movement of the relics was the fourth however. The source of this data is the text of the "Preface" ("Opoved"). Others put the date closer to 1198, for the movement of the relics after the threat of foreign military intervention had subsided.


In 1192 Father Superior Martiry founded a church in the name of the Saviour Lord Jesus Christ on Valaam. This fact may be recognized as reliable, as its source comes from the "lost Ancient Chronicler of the 14th Century" whose existence is confirmed by many other chronicle sources. Reliability of this fact was recognized by Saint Ignaty (Bryanchaninov).


For some time, beginning about 1393, Saint Arseny Konevsky lived on Valaam. The "Service, Life and Laudatory Word of Arseny Konevsky" was made up by Konevsky Father Superior Illarion and published in 1850. The text of the biography is based on the church tradition and ancient copies that have been lost but whose existence was proved by an expedition organized by Saint Ignaty (Bryanchaninov) for the search of ancient monuments in northern monasteries.


Other notable events in the early history of the Valaam Monastery begin in 1436 which saw the arrival of Saint Savvaty of Solovki at Valaam. This fact is proved by all biographies of Saint Savvaty of Solovki.


In 1448 Saint Aleksandr Svirsky arrived at Valaam. This fact is likewise proved by all biographies of Saint Aleksandr Svirsky, he became a monk there in 1474.


Paisiy, Father Superior of Solovki was exiled to Valaam in 1572 for slandering prelate Philipp.

1578, 20th February

And on the 20th of February 1578 occured the first slaughter of Valaam monks: 18 monks and 16 novices.


Lastly, plague ravaged Valaam in 1581, from which 37 monks and 16 novices died.

t o p   o f   p a g e  
Official site of the Valaam monastery
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