Georgy (Yuri) the Great Martyr Monastery of Novgorod

Georgy (Yuri) the Great Martyr Monastery of Novgorod belongs to the Novgorod archdiocese anв is one of the oldest in Russia.

The monastery is located where the river Volkhov flows out of Lake Ilmen’

Old Time Flourishing

Tradition has it that the Yuriev Monastery was founded by the Most-Orthodox grand prince Yaroslav the Wise, baptized as Georgy in 1030. He also built a wooden church of St. George the Great Martyr. Since its very beginning the Monastery acts as one of the greatest centers of both Church and political life of Novgorod.

The monastery became the greatest one of the entire Novgorod region and was given the title of Lavra. It possessed vast farming lands and conducted a most complicated economic activities. In 1119, the Most-Orthodox prince Vsevolod Mstislavich and hegumen Kiriak laid foundation for a new stone collegial church whose size among all Novgorod churches is second only to the St. Sophia Cathedral. This cathedral was consecrated in 1130, and Prince Mstislav gave the Monastery vast lands; the letter of grant is the most ancient of all preserved by the beginning of the 21th century Russian legal documents

Since the late 12th century, the ST. George cathedral of the Yuriev monastery served as the last resting place not only for the Monastery fathers superior but also Russian princes, Novgorod posadniks and some saints. Since 1226 at the latest, the Monastery’s father superiors are known to carry the title of archimandrite. The Yuriev archimandrite was called “the Archimandrite of Novgorod” and regarded as the second in the hierarchy of the Great Novgorod after the archbishop: he also headed the city councils. In the first half of the 14th century, the Monastery’s father superior was Moisey, the future local saint of Novgorod. During the same period, the monastery was circummured. By the end of the 15th century it was one of the richest church proprietors.

Due to the patronage of grand princes and later czars, the monastery was always rapidly restored and improved despite multiple calamities and invasions.

The Synodal Period

After the 1764’s secularization of church lands, the Yuriev monastery has lost most of its property. Nevertheless, its great importance is withnessed инн the fact that it was ranked the third among the best Russian monasteries.

In January of 1786, the relics of St. Feoktist, the archbishop of Novgorod, were transferred to the Monastery’s St. George Cathedral from the neighboring Annunciation monastery, which had been abolished.

During the many centuries of its existence, Yuriev Monastery had many times suffered from fires; the last known one happened in 1810.

A new growth of the ancient monastery took place in the early 19th century thanks to the archmandrite Fotiy Spassky who enjoyed a great respect of the Emperor Alexander I. Among Fr. Fotiy’s s spiritual children was Countess Anna Orlova-Chesmenskaya, the owner of a great fortune. When Fr. Fotiy was appointed Archimandrite of Yuriev Monastery in 1822, he found the brethren in great poverty and the buildings – mostly wooden – in decay. An 1822’s fire aggravated the situation even further. Now the Countess provided the Archmandrite with all manner of help in implementing his plans.

Her generous donations made possible an extensive construction in the Monastery. In a short time there had been built the Western building with the All Saints Church; the Savior Cathedral, the Eastern Orlov building with cells for the brethren; the Northern building with the Elevation of the Cross Church; and the Southern building with the Burning Bush hospital church. In 1841, the bell tower was erected designed by the famous architect Carl Rossi. All the churches had been decorated with an unprecedented splendor. The Monastery’s sacristy housed a great many richly decked vestments, vessels, crosses, arcs and other articles that had been gifted by czars, emperors, patriarchs and famous benefactors, many ancient documents, manuscripts and old printed books, and old relics and monuments.

On December 25, 1833, the Synod granted all Yuriev monastery’s Father Superiors the permission to carry a crosier with a sulok.

Another set of restoration works took place in the late 19th – early 20th centuries. Monastery then had a free hotel for pilgrims, a hospital and an almshouse.

Even though the latest glory of the Monastery during the Synodal perios was linked to the Archmandrite Fotiy there had been within that period another three ascetic Father Superiors – Ss. Pavel Koniuskevich and Filaret Drozdov and priest-martyr Iuvenaly Maslovsky.

Latter Days

On December 15, 1921, a telegram was received from Trotsky about the expropriation of the Monastery’s material possessions. In the fall of 1924, five Yuriev Monastery’s churches were still active, but by 19 2 8 it was only one, and in 1929 the Monastery was abolished. During 1920-30 it was ravaged and looted. During World Was II it housed German and Spanish troops. After the war, its territory had been occupied by a post office, a technical school, a college, a museum; there also found refuge people left without roof over.

On December 25, 1991, thanks to Bishop of Novgorod Lev’s efforts, the Yuriev Monastery was restituted to the Church. At that time several families were living there beside a technical professions school, a dormitory and artist studios. The churches lacked iconostases, the domes of the Savior’s Cathedral were ruined, the layout of the buildings had been changed, the garden had been long since neglected, the entire territory was full of debris and garbage.

The Synod order of October 2, 1993, reestablished the Monastery. In a short time, the Northern building with the Elevation of the Cross Church was has been repairedб and the Divine Liturgy began to be celebrated in the Monastery again. Restorations of the Orlov and Southern brethren buildings soon followed. The Peryn monastery began to be resurrected as a small secluded monastery. In 2004 there was opened the Novrorod Religious School and the restoration of the beheaded Savior Cathedral commenced. In 2009, great scale repair-and-renewal operations began.

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