The Danilov MonasteryRussian: Danilov monastyr’ or Данилов монастырь is one of the largest and oldest functioning monasteries in the Russian capital. If you have some time left after visit to the Novodevichy ConventRussian: Novodevichiy monastyir or Новодевичий монастырь, you should take a look at the Danilov. It was founded in the 13th century by Daniel of Moscow – the first prince of the city and legendary warlord Alexander NevskyGrand Prince known by military victories over German and Swedish invaders’s son. The relics of Saint Daniel are the main, but not the only points of interest in the Danilov monastery. Today it is a stavropegic monastery, which means that Patriarch of Moscow and all the Rus’ himself is father superior. His residence is located on the territory of the monastery since 1982. Large numbers of worshippers come to this ancient Moscow cloister for church service, to pray, listen to the famous men’s choir and to see holy relics.
THE HISTORY OF THE DANILOVSKY MONASTERY
The monastery is dedicated to St. Daniel the StyliteRussian: Daniil Stolpnik or Даниил Столпник, the patron saint of the founding prince. According to legend, Daniel of Moscow himself was buried at Danilov monastery in 1303. In the 15th century, both miracles and the healing of the sick were attributed to the relics of the saint. The grandfather of Ivan the Terriblereigned from 1533 to 1584, Ivan the Third of Russiaknown as the #gatherer of the Rus' lands#, began to venerate Daniil of Moscow who was later canonized. In the 17th century, his remains were uncovered and transferred to the monastery’s main church – the Church of the Holy Fathers of the Seven Ecumenical CouncilsRussian: hram Svyatyih otsov semi Vselenskih soborov or храм Святых отцов семи Вселенских соборов. Today, information about the first centuries of the monastery’s existence is swathed in mystery so historians consider the 16th century to be the beginning of its official history which is when the first buildings made out of stone were erected. The Theotokos of VladimirRussian: Vladimirskaya ikona Bozhiey Materi or Владимирская икона Божией Матери (or Vladimir Mother of God) icon was brought there in 12th century and remains there until this day. It is believed that the Church of the ResurrectionRussian: khram Voskresenia slovushchego, or храм Воскресения Словущего was built on the site of the original location of the monastery. This building dates back to the 1830s and is designed in the late Empire style by FM Shestakov. The exterior of the building is very characteristic of this style: a symmetrical cubic shape, austere white porticos, an unsophisticated bell tower. When you visit the church, you have the opportunity to see the ancient church cellars where the medieval masonry remains intact to this day and where many valuable relics were uncovered.
The Architecture of The Danilov Monastery
The present-day architectural ensemble of the Danilov Monastery combines buildings from different epochs and periods which represent the complicated history of the cloister. It was badly damaged during the Time of Troublesperiod of political crisis in Russia from 1598 to 1613 and as a result, its oldest surviving buildings date from the 17th century. That’s when a wall with towers was built around it.
The main cathedral in the monastery is the Trinity CathedralRussian: Troitsky sobor, or Троицкий собор. It was built in the early 19th century. Most probably it was designed by architect O. Bovean Italian-Russian neoclassical architect who supervised reconstruction of Moscow after the Fire of 1812. This building can be considered one of the most significant monuments that represents late Moscow classicism with its Laconic geometric shapes, austere Tuscan-style porticos, and a yellow-and-white colour scheme. The church was substantially rebuilt in the 1930s, yet reconstructed to resemble the original later.
The Church of the Holy Fathers of the Seven Ecumenical Councils
The Church of the Holy Fathers of the Seven Ecumenical Councils built during 17-19th centuries is a peculiar combination of three churches within a single building: a lower one – the church of the Intercession of the Most Holy Mother of GodRussian: Tserkov’ Pokrova Presvyatoy Bogoroditsy, or Церковь Покрова Пресвятой Богородицы; and two upper ones – the Church of Daniel the StyliteRussian: Tserkov’ Daniila Stolpnika, or Церковь Даниила Столпника and the Church of the Holy Ecumenical Councils itself. What is remarkable is that even though the churches were all built at different times they all blend in perfectly and form an interesting and impressive ensemble. The Baroque bell tower was constructed in the 18th century; its lower tier houses the Church of St. Simeon the StyliteRussian: Tserkov’ Simeona Stolpnika, or церковь св. Симеона Столпника.
A unique set of Danilov Bells owes its existence to the American industrialist and diplomat Charles Crane, who donated them to Harvard in 1930s. The bells remained in Harvard and in 2007 were returned back to its original place, the Danilov Monastery.
The Chapel in the monastery
Another part of the Danilov convent is also a small chapel built in the late 20th century as a memorial building. In the 1930s, the monastery was closed down and turned into a detention center for children of parents who were persecuted or victimised for political reasons. They were brought here after their parents had been executed and placed into the old monastic chambers. Due to the horrible living conditions, a great number of children died of disease and starvation. Their burial place was found near a monastery wall, where a chapel was later erected to commemorate the deceased innocent children.
The Christian Orthodox Shrines in Danilov Monastery
Aside from the relics of Saint Daniel of Moscow, there are also arks displaying the relics of Saint Prince Alexander Nevsky and the relics of Saint Nicholas of Myra, orthodox icons with relics of Saint Serafim of Sarovone of the most renowned Russian saints in the Eastern Orthodox Church, St. Sergius of Radonezha spiritual leader and monastic reformer of medieval Russia, Blessed Matrona of Moscowa renowned saint of the Russian Orthodox Church who had the gift of spiritual vision and the gift of healing from early childhood and others as well as revered icons.
Various shops where you can purchase orthodox icons, church books and utensils and taste delicious monastery baked goods surround the monastery. A bookstore selling books by “Danilov EvangelistRussian: Даниловский благовестник” a publishing house dedicated to Christian Orthodox literature, operates on the territory of Danilov Monastery and is of particular interest. When visiting the Danilov Monastery, the important thing to remember is that it is and has always been not only an architectural and historical monument but also an active monastery and a prominent spiritual centre of Moscow throughout almost its entire history.
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