Link to Home Page Korennaya (Kursk Root) Hermitage of the Birth of the Holy Theotokos

2008 Korennaya Summer Update Report
2006 Summer Update Report
2009 Summer Update Report

2008 Korennaya Hermitage Update Report
New Stone Church
Kursk Root Icon Procession
2008 Korennaya Fair
Bell Tower New Icons
Abbot’s New Building
Monastery New Hotel
Kursk Root Spring Dipping Tanks
Monastery Skete
St. Joakim & Anna Church New Domes
Svodoba New Supermarket
Zolotukhino New John the Baptist Church
Elder-woman Misaila of Kursk New Chapel
Visit to Monastery of St. Nickolas in Rylsk
Ancient Town Rylsk, Russia
Visit to Maryino Mansion in Rylsk
Local Village Orthodox Church
Green Hotel  &  Pilgrim Hotel
President Medvedev would be visiting the WWII Museum

I was blessed with another trip to our summer home in Kursk, Russia in the home city of Svodoba the home of the Kursk Root Monastery (Korennaya Hermitage).  It was so nice to return after not being able to go last year.  It rained a lot more this year than I had seen in previous years but we still had a very nice visit for ten weeks.  So here is an update report on what I noticed around the Kursk Region of Russia. 

Abbot Benjamin of Korennaya Hermitage gave us a book in Russian with a lot of history about the monastery and I will be translating some of it in the near future for the web site.  He told us that they were in the process of building their own Internet web site in Russian.  Also the old small bookstore that was by the front gate has been picked up and moved down next to the Bell Tower entrance.  Now a large new bookstore will be built just as you enter into the monastery’s front gate.  It has been a real pleasure to watch this monastery grow and become a stronger Christian spiritual center as it used to be before the Soviet Union persecuted the Orthodox Christian’s.  Just like the first century Orthodox Christians were persecuted.

New Stone Church in Monastery Courtyard

A few years ago the Moscow Patriarchate, Alexei II called Korennaya Hermitage the third most revered monastery in all of Russia. Now he is also showing this with the new very large Stone Church that is being built in the center of the monastery courtyard. It is being built in the exact location and the same exact style as the old Stone Church that the Soviet Union tore down. It will take two more years to complete this large Stone Church. This is a tremendous addition for all Orthodox Christians. It might be completed in another 18 months weather permitting.

They were starting to install the supports for the roof domes when we were leaving. So many bricks are used for building in Russia because of the cold winters. The monks are going inside of the Church every day and doing special prayers for the new Church. The complete original basement was recovered from the ground and it is now supporting the brand new large Stone Church. Simply Amazing! I have heard that this Stone Church will have the same quality inside as the Cathedral of Christ the Savior Church that is located in Moscow. The Abbot told me that the Stone Church would have the Greek style benches inside along the outside walls. I used to think the monasteries statue of St. Seraphim of Sarov was big but it looks very small now compared to the large Stone Church that is located just behind the statue.

2008 Kursk Root Icon Procession

Kursk Root Icon Procession was just as big this year with about 30,000 Orthodox Christians in the procession. This procession is my most special day every year that Iím in Russia! My wife meet up with the procession and followed it down to the Kursk Root Holy Spring. I was waiting for the procession next to the entrance of the Bell Tower and it was amazing to watch all the respect the new icons received from Orthodox Christians as they proceeded thru the Bell Tower Archway. I read that the ROCOR were having a large meeting in Moscow that same weekend of the procession but never heard if they also came to see this Holy Kursk Root Icon Procession during there visit to Russia. I was not able to venerate the Kursk Root Icon until the next day because of all the people but I was honored to be able to venerate it in the monastery all summer:)

2008 Korennaya Fair

Korennaya Fair has continued to keep growing each year.  The Kursk Region is spending a lot of money to build this into a large Russian fair again.  They bought ten homes in the center of Svodoba, tore down the homes and blacktopped all of the land.  They bought five large buildings (each about 100’x50’x 10’tall) for fair day displays.  They put the buildings up and then take them all the way down and store them inside for next years fair.  Now the fair is two days long and merchants are selling items all around the side streets.  Most food is mostly down Main Street and the folk dancing stage is up front between the monastery hotel and the WWII Museum.  The main stage is in the new big paved parking lot in the center of Svodoba.  They have a wide range of different performers during the two days.  I enjoy the folk dancing and Russian culture the most but there is also a very large amount of displays of ethnic Russian Foods and all kinds of food mixed in everywhere!

The Bell Tower Entry Icons are now completely finished. They are beautiful and the large icons really set the proper religious mood as you enter into the monastery courtyard. The best Moscow icon painters made these large beautiful icons on the Bell Tower. The icons were put on the Bell Tower exactly like it looked before the communist party shut down all Churches in Russia. The large oval Theotokos Icon looks down on you as you enter and exit the Bell Tower Archway. I meet up with the Kursk Root Icon Procession here at the Bell Tower entrance this year and it was very moving to see all the respect that the new icons received. All the icons tell different stories from the Bible like you are “Walking thru an Open Bible!”

The Abbots Building is next to the new Stone Church and it is in the process of being remodeled.  The original building was built 150 years ago with bricks but a fire destroyed it during the Soviet times.  About five years ago they put a new roof on it and two years ago they worked on the windows and installed mud over the old bricks.  Now they are doing the insides and it looks like it will have tile walls like the new monastery hotel.  It will be the monasteries Abbots Building with his meeting room, his conference, and his sleeping cell.  Not sure what the top floor will be used for yet.

The new Monastery Hotel by the front entry gate has been completed and what a fancy deluxe building it is inside.  There is a large conference room on the main floor with a large kitchen and very deluxe rooms for sleeping.  Upstairs there is a banquet room and more sleeping rooms.  The basement is still being worked on.  Abbot Benjamin said the rooms are free right now only with his blessing but they will start charging for them shortly. 

A new large dipping tank was being built next to river just below the public source for the Holy Spring Water outlet.  The old dipping tanks had the supply water line break so the monastery dipping tanks were not being used this summer.  The old dipping tanks were shut down, drained and refilled at night and they could get very dirty by the end of the day.  The new tanks will draw straight from the public source and discharge into the river.  I’m sure it will be a much cleaner system.  I hope they find a way to keep using the old tanks too!

I finally made it to the Korennaya's Monastery Skete.  I was not expecting it to be as good as it was.  It’s a woman’s monastery but also they have a monastery farm there too.  Many buildings are located on the lower valley and one of the Korennaya Hermitage Holy Springs called St. Seraphim of Sarov Spring. The Woman’s monastery is a three-story building with the Church built on the third floor and it is about half way up the hill from the valley below.  The best way to get to the Skete is to turn just past the St. Joakim & St. Anna Church as you enter into Svodoba.  What a nice view of the valley!  Abbot Benjamin said the monastery had bought 450 acres of farmland and they had received a lot of farming equipment from Belgorod. 

Four new domes are being built on top of St. Joakim & Anna Church in Svodoba.  They are making the Church look like it did before the communism times.  I got to visit the beautiful Church and attend a vespers service.  The domes were almost done when we were leaving.  The Church is a must see when you are in Svodoba.  Father Peter is the priest here.  I was moved by the acoustics in this Church and the Church Icons are in great condition.

New supermarket was built in Svodoba.  It is not real big but it is big for this town.  It is modern stores were you can walk around and choose your food.  Not like the older stores in Russia that you select the displayed item and they hand over the counter your new item.  The communist style was to get in line make your selections and get the prices then get into another line to pay for the items and lastly get into another line to get your selections. Wow! It keeps many people working but was a very slow way to shop.  I have not seen this style of Russian store in the last six years. It’s really nice to have this larger store in town because we can buy most everything now in Svodoba instead of traveling all the way into Kursk.

We got a big surprise when we went to Zolotukhino, Russia for some home repairing supplies. We also wanted to visit the St. Andrew The Man of God Woman’s Monastery that is there. The town is about 15 miles North from Svodoba toward Moscow.  This is a newer women's monastery and they started by turning an old school building into a monastery in this small town. The monastery needed many repairs as it was started from an old unused school building.

To our great surprise this year it has a very large new main Church built there called John the Baptist.  The first week in July they had the Bishop Herman of Kursk & Rylsk Regions and Hireomonk Philip did the commemoration service.  It has a large new pilgrimage rooms at both ends of the Church for men and women pilgrims. This is the woman’s monastery that the last Bishop Iuvenaly of Kursk & Rylsk started the path to build this new monastery and now a new Church.  Hireomonk Roman is the priest here and we have known him for about ten years, as he was a Hireomonk at Korennaya Hermitage a few years ago. This is by far the best building that I saw in this town. Christ is alive and spreading thru out Russia!

We visited the Elder-woman Misaila of Kursk site.  A new small chapel is being built in her honor next to her grave site.  There has also been a new roof built over her grave.  Many people still come to pray at her resting place.  Many fresh flowers were on her grave.  Hieromonk Ioasaf said that it is like this all year long as many people come to visit her.  This is very special place and is one of my most favorite places in Russia. The spring is very cold and I like to stand in the water and pray.  We always take some spring water back to our home every time we visit!

We took a day trip to Rylsk that is an ancient town just 70km west of Kursk.  We wanted to visit the Monastery of St. Nickolas in Rylsk founded in 1505.  It just happened to also be the Abbot Pankrati’s angel’s day.  We did not know this when we headed to Rylsk.  Abbot Pankrati invited us to eat with them in the trapeze room.  Many people had many good things to say about him during the meal.  Abbot Packrat a hieromonk in Korennaya Hermitage about five years ago. I didn’t know that he was sent to this monastery and he was also very surprised that we visited his monastery especially on his angels’ day.  It’s a small world sometimes! Much rebuilding has been done at this monastery in the last five years and much more is being worked on.  We visited the monastery springs and were surprised with new dipping tanks made of logs.  Taking dips into Holy Springs is a big Russian Orthodox tradition.  You go under the water three times.  The water has always been very very cold!  It’s Great! 

Rylsk is a very old and well-preserved Russian town with a population of about 17,000 just what it had two hundred years ago.  There Rylsk use to have 7 stone and 5 wooden Churches in 1900.  Now it has two stone Churches the Vasilevskoy1822 and the Assumption 1811.  We also stopped by a third large old stone Church that needed to be completely rebuilt.  It is in the middle of town. There is a small section of this Church being used for services.  It was very sad to see such a large Church so run down and with so much work still needing to be started.

We stopped by the Maryino Mansion just a few miles outside of Rylsk. We went inside to view the old mansion and it was very big but not a whole lot to see inside besides the building.  The small Orthodox Church inside the mansion was closed. The Moreno Mansion is mostly used as a hotel.  The rooms cost about $100 per night.  The outside grounds were very nicely taken care of and we had a nice visit there.  The lake was built by hand and we also found a small chapel as we walked around the lake.  There were a couple of large swans in the lake.  

We went on an afternoon trip to see a local Orthodox Church in a Village that was a long way off the main road it turned quickly into a small rough dirt road. The Church was about six to eight miles off the main road. There were many homes stretched out along the long road. The Church was wooden and in need of an outside paint but it had withstood the 90 years of communism neglect. The Church has had quite a few priests sent from Moscow Patriarch but most of the priests have not stayed very long. We were lucky a new priest was at the priest’s home and opened the Church up for us.  I was surprised to see the inside was in very good original condition. I asked him how many people lived in the village and he said that he had had not made it to every home yet as he had only been there for a month. A famous Russian composer Tchaikovsky lived in this village for a few years. We also visited a home of a famous Russian writer Leskov as we left out the back end of the long village.

This year I was able to use the Green Hotel Internet connection a couple of times a week.  This hotel is small but nice.  I thought they would get tired of me using their computer.  But, right up to the last day they just smiled and got me set up on one their computers in there own business office. They never charged me anything for this very special service that I needed. I used the restaurant a couple of times too.  It’s very fancy dining room but no one speaks any English. :( I have also used the Green Hotel to send and receive faxes in past years.  They also have a sports gym on the top floor.

Also the large Pilgrim Hotel in Svodoba and has added another large two-story building with a large conference room upstairs and a large kitchen on the main floor.  The kitchen is also open to the public but is mostly set up to help with pilgrims’ meals.  A full course meal was only $4 to $5.  I tried to eat there a couple of times but they had a large group of Orthodox teenagers from around the world and lunch time was moved both times to accommodate their schedules.  But it will be nice for Svodoba to have another place to eat, as the Green Hotel Restaurant is very fancy place.  The Pilgrim Hotel has many things to do in their fenced courtyard and are building a small Orthodox Church in the basement.

As we were getting ready to leave Russia and we heard that President Medvedev would be visiting the Kursk Root Monastery and the WWII Museum.   The museum has just completed a large addition to the main display building almost doubling the size of the museum.  This was a high quality addition and we had a tour with the director just as they were finishing up. We first heard about the president was coming from the director of the museum.  A priest told us that the President Medvedev was also going to be visiting the Kursk Root Monastery only one week after we had headed home.  I watched the handrails down to the Bell Tower and Holy Spring being painted and they were overdue for this repair.  I’m sure they were ready for their first visit from any Russian President.

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