The skete of All Saints

Skete of All Saints in the winter.

The skete of All Saints, or Bolshoi, is the oldest in Valaam. Supposedly in its place, 3.5 km from the monastery, stood the secluded hermitage of St. Alexander of Svir. To commemorate this place, Abbot Nazary built a stone church and cells. The skete became famous for its hermits: elders Kleopa, Feodor and Leonid. Among their disciples were hieromonk Varlaam, adherent of silence and continuous prayer, Abbot to be, and hieromonk Eufimy, a librarian and the instructor of father Damaskin, in whose lifetime all buildings remaining in the skete were erected. Knowing how harmful to ones health natural stone cells could be, Abbot Damaskin ordered built the prior's house, a refectory and six monks' houses, walls with Holy Gates, and a fenced chapel (designed supposedly by K.I. Brandt, who was to become St. Petersburg eparchial architect). The construction work, accomplished in 1842-1844, was sponsored by F.F. Nabilkov, a merchant from Fridrichsham (Hamina). In 1846, A.M. Gornostajev designed a five-domed two-storey church with a hipped belfry in the old Russian style with Byzantine and classical elements. The lower church was consecrated in honour of All Saints by father Ignaty (Bryanchaninov).

The Skete Gates.

The strict rules of the skete did not allow milk in non-lenten days before 1894, women could get there only once a year, on the patron saint's day, All Saints' day. Part of the church plate, including icons painted by V.P. Poshehonov, is in Finland now. Today monastic life in accordance with the old rule is resumed in the skete, on All Saints'day, 1993, Abbot Pankraty offered a liturgy in the lower church, the first liturgy after fifty years of 'miserable desolation'.