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The Candlemas Church in Solomennoye

"And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves." (The gospel according to Matthew, chapter 21, verses 12-13)

Petropavlovsky Solomensky monastery was founded in latter half of the XVIth century by Kassian the monk. In "The History of Russian Church" it is noted: "The monasteries founded on the territory of Moscow Patriarchy in 1589-1652 years are Olonetsky Salmensky male monastery in the name of the Apostles St.Peter and St.Paul". Petropavlovsky Solomensky monastery belonged to Novgorod eparchy. It was referred to as Petropavlovsky as its main temple was consecrated in the name of Supreme Apostles St.Peter and St.Paul. The name 'Solomensky' probably came from the Karelian word 'salmi' which means a strait. The monastery is situated on the coast of the strait which connected Logmozero to Onega. In Tarkhannaya letter (releasing the monastery from varios tolls) of 1592 issued to the monastery, the number of coenobites in Solomensky monastery is not specified. The prior was the monk Kassian. In 1627-1629 clerk Nikita Panin in "Scribe's book" specified that builder of Solomenskaya desert is the old monk Ilya and "the church has sacred images and books, and candles and chasubles, and the ancient structure all the same as the desert of the Builder Kassian the old monk." It specifies that founder of Solomensky monastery was the monk Kassian, who ruled it possessing the cloth of the builder. In 1596 tsar Feodor Ioanovich with his charter presented the grounds on the river Shuya to the monastery. The monastery temple in the name of Supreme Apostles St.Peter and St.Paul was settled on its coast. It consisted of the church and refectory. On the belfry there were two bells, each of those weighed a pood. Peter the Great visiting the first Russian Spa "Marcial Waters" in 1719, 1720, 1722, 1724, also visited churches and monasteries. For Solomensky Petropavlovsky desert he has donated white priestly chasubles and a leather belt with silk brushes. These relics were stored in the vestry of churches of Solomensky parish, and they were known by the end of XIX century as the donation for Solomensky desert by the reigning person. In 1723 of Solomensky desert was attributed to Alexandro-Svirsky monastery. In 1764 under the decree of empress Ekaterina II "On monastery personnels" small monasteries were abolished. Solomensky Petropavlovsky desert it was abolished too, and the church became the parish one.

In 1775 on the rock near the church of Apostles St.Peter and St.Paul construction of the stone Candlemas Church began. The church was constructed by Ilya Kononov, merchant from Saint Petersburg. Icons for the newly built church were painted by Petrozavodsk icon painter D.Kaidalov. 53 icons and the sacred image were "to paint the abovementioned images with the best paints, azure, the chasubles to be touched by red gold and silver. To paint all this with skilled icon painting," was written down in the contract. For all work the icon painter has earned 250 roubles from merchant Kononov. The church was consecrated in 1780 by Ioannikiy, Olonets and Kargopol diocesan and St.-Petersburg parish vicar.

After a while, according to former churchwarden Yakov Romanov, the new wooden Church of Epiphany of the smaller size was constructed near. The Candlemas Church has burned down presumably in the beginning of 1790. In 1795 merchant Kononov has started construction of church of Apostles St.Peter and St.Paul, as wooden Petropavlovsky church has burned down. In 1798 the stone church of St.Peter and St.Paul was consecrated by Veniamin, archbishop of Archangelsk and Kargopol. The foundation of the church has the shape of cross and had a wooden belfry above the entrance. The the elergy of the parish of two churches consisted of a parson, a deacon, and a sexton. The two churches had six bells. The biggest referred to as "Blagovestny (the tolling)" and weighed 21 poods, the average was 8 poods in weight, and the small one weighed 4 poods. Among the relics of Solomensky parish there was "a silver-and-gold-plated cross similar to pectoral, in which particles of saints" are kept. The cross was kept in the altar of Candlemas Church.

Candlemas Church was called the main church of the parish, it was the summer church. Solomensky parish included the chapel of St.Vlasiy in Sulazhgora and the church of St.Dmitry Salunsky was built on the cemetery in Sulazhgora. In the village of Ruchei there was a chapel of St.Zosima and St.Savvatiy Solovetsky constructed in 1890. In Lehnavolok on the bank of Logmozero there was the St.George the Victorious Chapel. In Shlikinnavolok in the centre of the village the chapel of martyr Antipa also included in Solomensky parish was constructed. In different periods of time Solomensky parish was visited by grand dukes sons of Alexander II: Nikolay, Alexey, and Vladimir.

The Candlemas Church was under restoration in 1903-1905.

In 1910 a conflagration happened in it, but many icons were rescued. Restoration of the church began, and in autumn of 1913 the repaired Candlemas Church was solemnly consecrated by Olonets bishop Nikanor. Then the 1917 has come, and hard time for the church began. In 1930 distrain of church was made, bells were removed, the church was closed. In the churche of St.Peter and St.Paul the school was open. In 1947 under the application of parishioners the church has been opened. However the church was closed again in 1962. It was without crosses and without domes. Under the decision about closing the church of Apostles St.Peter and St.Paul of July 4, 1962, a kindergarten has been settled in it.

The church was returned to the believers at the end of 1996. In 2000 crosses were hoisted over the church. While reconstructing of church its walls revealed frescos with faces of saints painted in 1913 from under the layer of plaster.

Father Pavel, the prior of the church, has told about problems of today:

- Untill 1996 it was the two-storeyed house of unclear architecture, its windows were half closed, on the second floor windows were made in the ancient walls, wooden floor were punched. In varios periods of time the building was a school, a hostel, an apartment house, a business agency. Besides, the building was sold as a private property. Only after people have asked to return the church it was declared an architectural monument of the end of XVIIIth century. We have settled on the second floor, have established a plywood iconostasis, while the roof leaked constantly. Now the church has six bells, the heaviest weighs 350 kgs. They were cast in Voronezh. For today we have mastered 9 million roubles of private donations only. On Sundays we hold thanksgiving services, two times a month on Saturdays we have services for the dead, we celebrate the great holidays with thanksgiving services. It happens that on holidays we host visitorsfor the service, it is necessary to accommodate pilgrims who visit the church.

Father Pavel has noted that traditions repeat:

- By the 100th anniversary of giving the large village of Alexandrovskaya the name of the city the church of Great Martyr Ekaterina was constructed. Now we shall continue this line of antiquity: we shall revive the church by the 300-th anniversary of the city.

Alexander Starikov
"Courier of Karelia" 10/1/2003

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Created: January 16, 2003. Last updated: January 16, 2003.
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