Saturday, 22 June 2013

The Valamo (Valaam) Monastery in the Late 19th Century

The Valamo monastery. Litography by P.A. Kruskopf (about 1850).

In 1897 the Swedish nobleman, politician and insurance company executive Sven Palme - the late Prime Minister Olof Palme's grandfather - visited the famous Valamo (Valaam in Russian) monastery, located on an  island in Lake Ladoga. His illustrated account of the visit was published in the journal Ord och Bild.

At the time of Palme's visit the Valamo monastery was (since 1812) part of the autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland in the Russian Empire.

The Valamo monastery was according to an old legend founded  in the 10th century by a Greek monk, Sergius, and his Karelian companion Herman. (Sven Palme  had been given the information that also Herman was a Greek). Contemporary historians date the founding to the late 14th century.

This late 19th century photograph of the Valamo monastery was one of the illustrations to the Palme article. 

A procession receives the hegumen (the head of the monastery).

There were 200 monks in Valamo at the time of Palme's visit. 

Monks enjoying the scenery in Valamo.

(When Finland declared its independent in 1917, the Finnish Orthodox Church, which previously had been a part of the Russian Orthodox Church, became autonomous under the Orthodox Church of Constantinople. Valamo became the most important monastery of the Finnish Orthodox Church.

During the Winter War 1939-1940, when Stalin's Red Army attacked Finland, the monastery was evacuated, and the 150 monks settled in Heinävesi in Finland. This community still exists as New Valamo Monastery in Heinävesi.

The original monastery was part of the area, which after the Continuation War had to be ceded to the Soviet Union, which used is as a military base. In 1989 the monastery was bequeathed to the Russian Orthodox Church, and is again functioning as a monastery.)

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