The Simonov Monastery in Moscow was founded in 1370 by Fyodor, a disciple of Russia's greatest and most influential medieval saint, Sergius. Over the centuries, the Simonov was to become one of the richest monasteries in Russia. Early twentieth century official church records place the Simonov in the top 10 percent based on wealth.
The monastery had six major churches on its grounds. Among them were churches dedicated to The Tikhvin Icon of the Mother of God, to the Dormition of the Virgin, and to St. Nicholas the Miracle Worker. Many churches had attached side chapels (or side altars) as well. The Tikhvin Icon church had, for example, side chapels dedicated to Basil the Blessed, a famous holy fool; to the martyrs Valentina and Paraskeva; to St. Sergius; to Athanasius of Alexandria and the martyr Glykeria; and to saints Xenophont and Maria. This indicated a complex and intricate pattern of church structure, one that pertained to the larger, better endowed monasteries.
Two of the Simonov Monastery's leading figures became patriarchs of the Russian Church. Job, who was appointed abbot of Simonov in 1571, was the first patriarch in Russia (1589). In 1642, Joseph, the archimandrite of the Simonov Monastery, was elected to the patriarchy.
During the War of 1812 the Simonov was looted by the Napoleonic armies when they entered a burning Moscow. However, it quickly regained its material well-being. Much of its income was derived from visitors, pilgrims, and donations. Land holdings outside Moscow generated income from the production and milling of grain. In these practices, it typified many other Russian monasteries. Of the many famous people buried there, one of the better known is the nineteenth-century writer Ivan Aksakov.
See also: caves monastery; kirill-beloozero monastery; monasticism; russian orthodox church; sergius, st.; trinity st. sergius monastery