About 45 miles north of Moscow, along the road to Yaroslavl, is the small city of Sergiev Posad (called Zagorsk during the Communist era). This city grew up around the Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra Monastery (photo, above), established around 1340 by St. Sergius of Radonezh (see our article, The Life of St. Sergius of Radonezh). This monastery has been the single most important spiritual center in Russia for well over 600 years, and today is a working monastery, Seminary, Theological Academy and place of pilgrimage.
Visiting this monastery enables a preson to experience its lively spiritual environment, filled with history, icons, architecture and relics of the saints. It is marvelous be able to venerate the relics of St. Sergius (icon, above left), Metropolitan St. Innocent, Apostle to America (icon, above right) and Metropolitan St. Philaret. Visitors can view many magnificent examples of architecture, icons and decorative arts from the early 15th to the 20th centuries, located in the churches, in the Seminary/Academy's Museum of Icons, and the State Museum of Arts and History located on the monastery grounds.
The largest of the many churches is the 16th century Dormition Cathedral (photo, above left), containing the relics of a number of saints, including St. Innocent (photo, above right) (see our ARTICLE, The Life of St. Innocent of Alaska). To hear the world-famous monastery and seminary choir in person is an opportunity to experience the glory of Russia's spiritual culture at its most splendid! (But most people must listen from across the ocean by means of one of their numerous recordings.)
The early 15th century Church of the Holy Trinity (photo, above left) contains icons by the famous iconographer, St. Andrei Rublev, including his most famous icon of the Holy Trinity, (see our ARTICLE, The Life of St. Andrei Rublev), plus 17th century icons by Simon Ushakov, and the totally awesome tomb-reliquary (photo, above right) of St. Sergius.
There is also much of interest outside the monastery walls, including panoramic views of the monastery (photo at top of page), other historic buildings of interest, and wooden homes.
Sergiev Posad has been a center of wood-carving and toy-making for centuries, and continues to carry on this tradition. In the summer, sometimes one might be able to see some artists at work. It is also the best place to buy all types of wooden crafts, including matrioshka dolls (nestling figures). The city's Museum of Toys, the only one of its kind in Russia, is also very interesting.
By Sister Ioanna, St. Innocent Monastic Community, Redford, Michigan