VALAAM

The skete of st. Nicolas the Wonder-Worker


The skete of st. Nicolas the Wonder-Worker.

Everyone arriving at the main Monastery bay sees from afar the church of St. Nicolas, the patron saint of sailors and those that travel, whose prayers sanctify the waters.

The present church was built in 1853 at the place of the old chapel and lighthouse (1809). The construction was sponsored by a merchant from St. Petersburg Nikolai Solodovnikov Alexander Dumas, who having visited Valaam in l858, wrote that 'the church is a real treasure both in its artistic beauty and its wealth, it is the creation of the best Russian architect. It was designed by A.M. Gornostajev (1808-1862), one of the founders of the Russian architectural style.

Spring on Ladoga.
 
Together with K.A. Ton, the designer of the Moscow Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, he aspired to renew the national architectural tradition, lost after Peter the Great's reforms. He worked at Valaam a great deal. The prototypes of the church of St. Nicolas were Moscow churches of XVI century. It is crowned by a dome, a symbol of a candle, a prayer addressed to God. The decorations of 1902 have remained, but the icons, including the most sacred one - a large icon of St. Nicolas, are lost.


The memorial cross.

The monks of the skete brought soil themselves and planted a fruit garden, maples, ash-trees, and lilacs. They also performed customs services, as the rule strictly forbade bringing tobacco and alcohol to the monastery. By the customs house, there is one of the stone crosses with pictures of Christ's sufferings, most of which were erected by Abbot Damaskin.

In 1935, when the skete was visited by the writer B.K. Zaitsev, there was only one monk living there, father Mily. Now, there are already several hermits living in the skete.


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VALAAM