The settlement of RadonezhRussian: Радонеж, located 55 km from Moscow in the direction of Sergiyev PosadRussian: Сергиев Посад, is one of Moscow RegionRussian: Moskovskaya oblast or Московская область’s landmarks and a major destination for pilgrims. On their route to the Holy Trinity-St. Sergius LavraRussian: Troitse-Sergieva Lavra or Троице-Сергиева Лавра, pilgrims used to stop, over the last few centuries, in Radonezh to see the place where young St. Sergius of Radonezha spiritual leader and monastic reformer of medieval Russia decided to become a hermit.
History of Radonezh
The banks of the PazhaRussian: Пажа River and those of other nearby rivers were once inhabited by Finno-Ugric tribes, owing to the fertile soils and the forests and hills which protected against invaders, as well as to the nearby waterways and the relatively mild climate. By the 11th century, they had given place to the Slavic tribe of Krivichi that founded the settlement of Radonezh on Cape Pazha. Between 1238 and 1240, however, Tartar Mongol invaders of Russia and Europehordes destroyed it, and in the first decades of the Tartar Yoke, Radonezh was allegedly the residence of the Tartar baskaks, or tax collectors.
By the mid-14th century, Radonezh was integrated into the Grand Principality of MoscowRussian: Moskovskoe knyazhestvo or Московское княжество, and it was around this time that Boyar a member of the highest rank of the feudal society in RussiaKirill (Cyril), the father of St. Sergius of Radonezh, came from the city of Rostova town in Yaroslavl Oblast, one of the oldest in the country and a tourist center of the Golden Ring and settled in Radonezh. Cyril’s son Bartholomew was aged 15 at the time. Some time later, he retired into the woods, where he built a wooden church in commemoration of the Holy Trinity, and after his parents’ death, he took monastic vows. Other monks began to gather around him and founded a monastery known as the Holy Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra.
Located not far from Radonezh, the monastery where Bartholomew became a monk, the Intercession Khotkovo MonasteryRussian: Pokrovskiy Hotkov monastyr or Покровский Хотьков монастырь (2, KooperativnayaRussian: Кооперативная Street, KhotkovoRussian: Хотьково, Sergiyevo-Posadsky DistrictRussian: Sergievo-Posadskiy rayon or Сергиево-Посадский район, Moscow Region), still exists and is open to visitors. The parents of the venerable St. Sergius, Cyrill and Maria, were buried there. Visiting this monastery on the way to the relics of St. Sergius kept at the Holy Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra has been a long-established tradition among the Orthodox pilgrims, and it is one that is still followed today.
The 15th century was a time of prosperity for Radonezh, when Prince Andrei of Radonezh turned this village into a little town with a kremlin nestled on the river bed and fortified earthworks, whose vestiges are still visible today. Prince Andrei spared no expense in building and decorating cathedrals, and it is during his reign that Sergius was canonised. He also financed the construction of the Trinity CathedralRussian: Troitskiy Sobor or Троицкий Собор, the crown jewel of the Lavra’s main square, and it is for this church that Andrei Rublev, a renowned icon-painter born in Radonezh, later painted his famous The TrinityRussian: Troitsa or Троица.
In 1617, the village of Radonezh passed under the authority of the Holy Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra, and a century later, it became a state-owned settlement. The lack of private farming land made local people leave Radonezh, which had as few as 55 households by the end of the 19th century. Instead, this area began to draw the attention of historians and archaeologists. Between the 1960s and 1980s, the Russian state passed laws aimed at protecting the architectural monuments and the historical landscape of Radonezh.
Built in 1842, the Transfiguration CathedralRussian: Khram Preobrazheniya Gospodnya or Храм Преображения Господня at the Radonezhskoye PodvoryeRussian: Радонежское Подворье (Radonezh), is one of the finest examples of Empire style architecture. It features an 8-windowed rotunda, an apse and Doric columned porticos on its north and south sides. A passage connected the cathedral’s refectory to a three-tiered belfry from 1860. The cathedral’s inner decoration consisted of wall paintings with some surviving fragments dating back to 1870, a five-tiered iconostasis in front of the altar and another two-tiered one in the aisle of St. Sergius of Radonezh. At the entrance to the church’s enclosure is the cross from the grave of the 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. The holy spring of St. Sergius of Radonezh and a font are located near the church.
The HillfortRussian: Gorodische or Городище with vestiges of crumbled walls and a rampart is Radonezh’s oldest historical monument of significance. In 1998, an eye-catching monument to St. Sergius of Radonezh was erected on the outskirts of the village. It is a three-metre-high figure of a monk, and has a bas-relief portraying young Bartholomew with an icon of the Holy Trinity in his hand, protruding from the monumental figure.© 2016-2018 moscovery.com