Troitskaya Laura (Zagorsk Monastery)

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Troitskaya Laura, a.k.a. Troitse-Sergieva Laura, or more popularly as Zagorsk Monastery is a Russian monastery founded in Zagorsk (northeast of Moscow), c. 1340 by St. sergius of radonezh, and called originally Sergiev Posad (Sergius's Foundation). The founder's illustrious character, sanctity, and political status and the monastery's strict cenobitic rule early made it a model for Russian monastic life. At the beginning of the 17th century the monastery waged a courageous fight against a Polish siege; this further enhanced its patriotic status. When order was restored, the monastery became an outstanding and unique center of pilgrimage for the faithful from all over Russia. In 1744 it was given the status of a Laura. It had extensive holdings and possessions and was consistently regarded as a national patriotic center, as well as a religious center. Although secularized in 1764, it nevertheless continued to be the richest monastery in Russia with 13 large stone churches containing precious treasures, including icons and vestments, and a library containing many ancient manuscripts. From 1814, the Moscow Theological Academy was located there. A century later, at the outbreak of World War I, the Troitskaya Laura numbered more than 400 monks and novices. It supported and managed its own hospital, orphanage, home for the aged, and asylum; it also had its own iconography school and printing press, which specialized in liturgical texts and religious publications. Its monks also made vestments. In 1920 the Laura was nationalized by the Soviet government and turned into a Museum of History; the churches were closed and the monks expelled. In the wake of J. Stalin's policy of rapprochement with the Orthodox Church during World War II and in gratitude for the patriotic solidarity of church leaders, the Troitskaya Laura was given back some churches and other buildings and became again a religious center for the faithful; a little later, its Theological Academy was reopened. In the post-communist era, the monastery is gradually regaining its preeminent role in Russian monasticism.

Bibliography: i. smolitsch, Russisches Mönchtum (Würzburg 1953).

[a. g. gibson/eds.]