Moscow’s landmark monastery marking 20 yrs since reopening

MOSCOW, August 21 (Itar-Tass) – One of Moscow City’s landmark historical abbeys, the Novospassky /or the New Monastery of the Savior/ on Sunday marks twenty years since its official reopening after decades of ruining and neglect caused by the Soviet government’s policy of state-sponsored atheism.

Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Kirill I will lead a festive liturgy in the monastery’s main church, the Transfiguration Cathedral where the restoration of 17th century frescoes completed just recently.

Initially, the Monastery of the All-Merciful Savior was founded by Moscow’s Duke Daniel in the 13th century. As a monastic organization, it changed locations several times till it finally settled on a hill on the northern bank of the Moskva River a few miles away from the Kremlin. This happened at the end of the 15th century.

Its colloquial name – ‘the Savior in a New Location’ – turned into an officially accepted name soon enough.

Like all the monasteries in Russia, it played the role of a fortress along with being a center of spiritual and worship.

Napoleonic troops planned demolishing it but their plans luckily failed to materialize.

The New Monastery of the Savior saw periods of glory and devastation likewise and the worst of the latter occurred after the Bolshevik revolution of November 1917.

Soon after its closure in 1918, the Soviet secret police NKVD turned its compound into the territory of a specialized facility the mysteries of which are not known in full even today.

Local lore suggests that the compound served as a jail for the NKVD convicts and a site for executions, and the large amounts of cartridge cases found by arts experts in the process of fresco restoration provides a bold proof of that.

From the very first days of its history, the New Monastery of the Savior enjoyed especial respect with the rulers of the Russian state.

It contained the family vaults of the Cherkasskies, Sheremetyevs, and Romanovs before the latter turned into Russias ruling dynasty.

The last tomb of Russian nobility appeared in the monastery in 1995 when the post-Communist authorities decided to rebury the remains of Grand Duke Sergei Romanov there.

He was killed by an anarchist bomber in 1905 near the Kremlin’s gate. The remains of his body were found under the cobblestone of the Ivanovskaya Square inside the Kremlin.

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