Revival of the Convent

The Goritsy Convent of the Resurrection was founded in the early 15th century at the bottom of the Maura Mountain. There is a stone with an imprint of St. Kirill’s foot on its top. He saw the place where he was to live and to found the Kirillo-Belozersky monastery exactly from the top of the Maura Mountain. This place was indicated to him by the Virgin in the miraculous appearance in Moscow.

The Goritsy Convent of the Resurrection became famous in the 16th century. The first stone church – the Resurrection Cathedral – was built there thanks to Princess Evphrosiniya Stariskaya, who owned the Belozersk district. She was a relative of Tsar Ivan the Terrible who also became the patron of the convent. The Goritsy convent became a place of imprisonment for noble women and received the tsar’s allowance. The name of Evphrosiniya Stariskaya is connected with the gold-embroidery workshop which she opened there. The princess presented churches and monasteries with articles created in the convent. Samples of gold embroidery made in the workshop of Evphrosiniya Stariskaya are kept in the best museums of Russia now.

The princess took the veil and lived in the Goritsy convent till 1569 when the Staritskys were subjected to almost total extermination by the order of Ivan the Terrible. On October 11, 1569, princess Evphrosiniya, two nuns and Mother Superior Anna were drowned in the Sheksna River. According to the chronicle of the convent, when the bodies of the drowned women were taken out of the water, they swam against the stream.

The nuns were buried behind the sanctuary of the Resurrection Cathedral. A chapel was constructed over the grave. It was replaced with the Trinity Cathedral in the 19th century. They were venerated as local saints in the convent. Miraculous healings occurred at their grave.

After the princess Evphrosiniya’s death, the convent was a place of exile for many years, till the late 18th century. Noble women were forced to take the veil and were imprisoned there. Two spouses of Ivan the Terrible Anna Koltovskaya and Maria Nagaya, Boris Godunov’s daughter Ksenia, and many others lived in the Goritsy convent.

A new page in the cloister history began in the 19th century. It was in its heyday under wise Mother Superior Mavrikiya Khodneva who was at the head of the convent from 1810 to 1855. She established the communal charter, because earlier each nun had her own means, cell and kept house in accordance with her own income. Today it is the single charter for all Russian monasteries. All stone buildings of the convent were erected under Mother Superior Mavrikiya. The number of nuns increased to 400. A spring was also found at that time. This event took place on the commemoration day of the Tikhvin Icon of the Mother of God, on July 9. According to the legend, a nun turned a stone and water flew from under the stone towards the convent. Later a wooden water-pipe was made using single aspen sticks. Water still gets to the convent through these pipes.

About 700 nuns lived in the Goritsy convent before the revolution. Many of them suffered during the persecutions of the church. 29 nuns were drowned in White Lake in 1929. 100 nuns were shot in Leningrad in 1937. The last Mother Superior of the convent – Zosima Rybakova – was shot at the same time.

A house for disabled people was opened within the convent and was located there till the middle of the 1970s. There are still flats of local residents in the convent.

Revival of the cloister began in 1996. 10 nuns live there at present. Services are performed in two churches. Nuns work in their large garden and farm. They have a milk farm, an orchard, vegetable gardens, fields and an apiary. Children of Sunday schools, Children’s Homes, students come and live in the convent during holidays. They also participate in this work.

The address of Archbishop of Vologda and Veliky Ustiug Maximilian

The Goritsy Convent of the Resurrection is known far beyond the Vologda region. On the one hand, it is known as “the convent of disgraced princesses”. On the other hand, it attracts attention thanks to its rich history, wonderful architectural monuments harmoniously constructed in the one of the most beautiful places of the Vologda region at the bottom of the Maura Mountain covered with forests, on the picturesque bank of the Sheksna River.

Unfortunately, the convent didn’t escape the hard lot of other monasteries of the Russian Empire in the 20th century. It was desolate at the end of the last century and could share the fate of other monasteries the architectural evidences of which had been lost. But, luckily the state changed its attitude to the Russian Orthodox Church and unprecedented revival of desecrated sacred places began. Ten years have passed after the Goritsy Convent of the Resurrection was reopened by the decision of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church. It is the only functional convent in the Vologda eparchy now.

Nun Evphaliya, born in the Vologda region, came to the Goritsy Convent from the Krasnogorsky Intercession Convent located in the city of Zolotonosha of the Cherkasy Oblast (Ukraine). She didn’t know anybody and started to revive the cloister almost from scratch. True Christians were always notable for their activity in constructive labour. St. Barsanuphius of Palestine said: “God hates idleness”. Nuns of the convent headed by Mother Superior Evphaliya did a great, tremendous job. It revives not only walls, but also people’s souls. It is extremely important to form a group of like-minded nuns who devoted their life to God. And the last is the most significant as the Holy Gospel which is the basis of the Orthodox faith says about one thing – about the fight with sins and the outer work that only helps in the spiritual warfare.

May God help the nuns of the convent and let people visiting it renovate and strengthen spiritual powers and physical vigour. My congratulations on the anniversary!

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