A short account of the life of Abbot Damascene (1835-1881)
In the direct line of Paisius Velichkovsky's disciples, Cleopas, Theodore and Euthymius, the humble Abbot Damascene was placed as head of Valaam, "Athos of the North" at the insistence of the great luminary Bishop Ignatius Brianchaninov. Abbot Damascene fortified the eremitic life by building isolated sketes with an austere typicon which bore fruit hundred fold for generations of great ascetics. Thus, Abbot Damascene is rightly called a builder of saints. He is also called a saint, as he has been known to appear from the other world to console and protect those who keep his memory. It is interesting to note that though he was a simple, uneducated man, Abbot Damascene possessed a great sense of appreciation of the arts: he encouraged artists, musicians and students to visit Valaam and create by being inspired by Va-laam's natural beauty. The painters Shishkin, Aivazovsky, and the composer Tchaikovsky were among them. The latter, having been snowed-in on Valaam, had an opportunity to hearken to inspiration and wrote his first symphony, in which he depicted the blizzard and the freeze and thaw of that watery element. He entitled this work "Winter Dreams."
Text from Valaam Patericon Book of Days