VALAAM

Valaam monastery - fixture of Orthodoxy in Finland


On paths to Valaam.

After the October revolution Finland gained independence and Valaam became part of its territory which saved the cloister for some time. The year 1918 was one of the hardest for the monastery because of hunger and the confiscation of the monastery property by Finnish troops. Thirty monks died, more than five hundred left the island. In November 1918, the monastery was taken over by the Finnish Orthodox Church, which had become independent and passed under control of the Constantinople Church. Under the complex political circumstances, in order not to seem 'pro-Russian', the Finnish Church urged towards reforms, accenting its independence. In October, 1921, it adopted the new western(Gregorian) calendar and Western Eastery and it's not recognized by the Orthodoxy. The demand to adopt the new calendar style was made in September 1925 when Valaam was visited by bishop German (Aav), a former Estonian priest, who headed the Finnish Church.

The Chapel of the Protection.
 
Large part of the brethren, observing the canons, refused to serve with him and the Greek metropolitan Hermanos. Persecutions followed. Some monks had to return to the USSR to meet a certain death, some left for Serbia. Later, the banishedmonks brought the traditions of Valaam to various countries of the world: France, USA, Morocco, Germany. Father losif, father Mikhail, and father leronim were retired from their posts and left for further sketes. Monks of old calendar style started to gather and hold service in a pottery workshop, which became heir Church. The sorrowful separation of the brethren lasted till 1946.

By 1925 there were about four hundred people in the cloister, among them seventy hieromonks and forty hierodeacons. There were about a hundred hired workers to do the forestry work (orthodox Karelians used to have a tradition of going to Valaam before marriage in order to pray and work for the benefit of the monastery). Twenty-five women-pilgrims who settled on the island and formed their own monastic community, worked in the garden and with the laundry. In Lutheran Finland Valaam remained the light of Orthodoxy.

The Ascension Chapel.
Every year it held meetings of clergy from the thirty-five Finnish parishes, in 1926 the delegates of Baltic choir communities stayed in the monastery for three days, the monastery published its magazine 'Daybreak', as well as books. In 1926, hieromonk Isaaky started holding regular services in Finnish in the cathedral of Peter and Paul. There was a boarding school for thirty poor boys, and a school for Karelian boys. In 1930-s, under the supervision of hieromonk Dosifey, the boys participated in some restoration work as well as in icon-painting. In two churches Psalter was read continuously with prayers for the dead and the living. In 1920-1930s Valaam was visited by such writers as B.K. Zaitsev (March, 1935), M.A. Janson, A.V Amfiteatrov, E.N. Chirikov, A.N. Tolstoi. Prince Aleksey Meschersky took vows here and was later buried at the Old Brethren cemetery. Valaam remained the centre of Russian diaspora untill the Russian-Finnish war of 1939-1940 (the Winter war).


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VALAAM