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Solovki Monastery

SOLOVKI MONASTERY

Located on the Solovki Archipelago in the White Sea, the Solovki (Solovetsk) monastery was founded between 1429 and 1436 by the hermits Savaty and German, followed by the monk and future abbot Zosima. By the early sixteenth century, Savaty and Zosima had become the patron saints of the White Sea region. Solovki, also a garrison, was one of Russia's most important cloisters with extensive territories, earning income from trade, salt, fishing, and rents. Metropolitan Phillip II of Moscow contributed significantly to Solovki's architectural development while serving as abbot (15461566). Its monastic rule, formulated in the late sixteenth or early seventeenth century, became a template for later communities.

Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich's troops besieged Solovki from 1668 to 1676 in a conflict traditionally linked to Old Belief. Solovki's leaders and a large part of the brotherhood first accepted, then rejected, Patriarch Nikon's liturgical reforms. However, rebellion against central authority combined religious concerns with anti-Moscow sentiment fostered by political exiles imprisoned at Solovki. After their defeat, many monks left, ultimately to swell the number of trans-Volga eldershermits who served as spiritual fathers to disaffected Orthodox communities.

Solovki remained an active monastery and popular pilgrimage site until the October Revolution, after which the Soviet government transformed it into a military training camp. It became a labor camp in the 1920s and 1930s for political prisoners. Abandoned soon afterward, Solovki was reopened as a museum in the 1970s, then closed again until the end of Soviet rule, when it was reopened to the public.

See also: kirill-beloozero monastery; monasticism; old believers; simonov monastery; trinity st. sergius monastery

bibliography

Michels, Georg. (1992). "The Solovki Uprising: Religion and Revolt in Northern Russia." Russian Review 51:115.

Spock, Jennifer B. (1999). "The Solovki Monastery, 14601645: Piety and Patronage in the Early Modern Russian North." Ph.D. diss. Yale University.

Jennifer B. Spock

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