Pyukhtitsa Assumption Nunnery in Estonia
Pühtitsa Assumption Monastery is located on the Bogoroditsky mountain near the village of Kuremäe in Estonia.
This place is closely associated with the name of many saints and ascetics of the Russian Orthodox Church. For example, St. John of Kronstadt and Patriarch Alexy II. A trip to this Orthodox shrine will be interesting and useful not only to pilgrims, but also to those who have not yet discovered the light of the Orthodox Faith.
History of the origin of the monastery
Near the Estonian village of Kuremäe there is a hill, which from time immemorial is called “holy”, in Estonian Pühtitsa. There is an oak tree still growing on it, the age of which is estimated by dendrologists to be no less than one thousand years. Apparently, the Finno-Ugric tribes had a place of pagan worship on this hill.
Here, justifying the Russian proverb “holy place…”, in the 16th century two Estonian shepherds saw an extraordinary woman, radiating unearthly radiance. Not daring to address her directly, these shepherds ran to the village to fetch their fellow villagers and, upon returning, found the icon of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the site of the vision. From that moment Pühtitsa became not a pagan shrine, but a venerated Orthodox shrine.
Apparition of the Theotokos on the Pühtitsa Hill
On the place of the discovery of the icon a wooden chapel was built, where the miraculous icon had remained until the construction of the Orthodox monastery on this place began.
Governor of Estonia Prince Sergei Vladimirovich Shakhovskaya
Prince Sergei Vladimirovich Shakhovsky, the Governor of Estonia, and his wife Elisabeth Dmitrievna Shakhovskaya were very much concerned about this holy place acquiring the appearance befitting its status. Through their efforts, in 1885 a wooden two-headed church with a belfry was built on the Bogoroditsky Hill, near the oak tree where the icon had been found, and the chapel and the revered icon were enclosed within its walls.
From this year, an Orthodox parish was formed in Pühtitsa, which, as everywhere the light of the Orthodox Faith came, performed not only sacred, but also educational, as well as custodial duties. In the town of Jõhvi, seventeen kilometers from Kuremäe, an orphanage, a school, a hospital, and a pharmacy were opened. All these charitable institutions were to be moved closer to Pühtitsa Orthodox Nunnery after it was founded.
In April 29, 1891 The Mountain of the Theotokos was handed over to the Russian Orthodox Church by the permission of the Most High. And on August 15 the same year Pyuhtitsa Holy Dormition women’s community was opened. There was a shelter for orphans and a hospital.
Construction of the Holy Gate. On the background of the first church of the Assumption. 1892
During the three years Pyukhtitsa became a place of worship and hospitality for the poor, its popularity was so high that the Princess E. D. D. Shakhovskaya petitioned the Holy Synod to turn the church into a monastery. It was granted on October 23, 1893. By the time the convent was formed, it had twenty-one novices, 22 orphanage inmates, and two sisters of mercy.
Documentary about the Pyukhtitsa Monastery
Architectural ensemble of the monastery
The architectural ensemble of this monastery began to form in 1883. The author of the project was M.T. Preobrazhensky. Because of the difficult terrain and hydrological conditions (at the time of the formation of the monastery the area was heavily marshy), the main buildings were located at some distance from the place of finding the miracle-working icon of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.
Below you can find a plan and photos of the Pyukhtitsa Monastery.
(1) The main church of the monastery is the five-domed Assumption Cathedral. It was built in 1910, one of the donors for the construction was St. John of Kronstadt. The road that leads to the cathedral passes through the arch of the Holy Gates (1895), a quadrangular stone construction with a hipped roof.
(10) On the right before entering the monastery are the Holy Oak, where the icon of the Virgin Mary was found, and (4) Nikolo Arsenievskiy cemetery temple. Farther behind it is the Holy Spring.
To the right is the Holy Oak, to the left is the Church of St. Nicholas.
Behind the Cathedral of the Assumption, which now houses the revered icon of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, are two more of the oldest buildings of the monastery:
(2) Simeon-Annina Church (1895), united with the refectory.
Wooden church of St. Sergius (3), at the walls of which the Shakhovskys, the founders of the monastery, found their repose.
Also in the complex there are: (5) Holy Gate with a belfry.
Holy Gate of the Monastery with Belfry
During the whole period of monastery existence there has never been any persecutions, nothing was destroyed, but it was only supplemented and decorated. Divine service has also never stopped. From 1986 to 1990 in the monastery, by the efforts of the Metropolitan of Tallinn and Estonia Alexy (later Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Alexy II), were built:
(8) A house for representative purposes.
(13) The monastery hotel for pilgrims (they are located to the right of the Cathedral of the Assumption, behind the Simeon-Anna Church).
(7) The baptismal church.
(6) The bell tower of St. Sergius church.
The bell tower of the Church of St. Sergius.
The main ensemble of the monastery is surrounded by a stone wall with four towers. There is one more gate leading to the chapel of St. Nicholas.
Pyukhtitsa Monastery and St. John of Kronstadt
St. John of Kronstadt is one of the main caretakers of the monastery. In principle, it began to form itself only after he gave his blessing for its arrangement to Princess E. D. Shakhovskaya and donated 200 rubles to it.
He often came and stayed for a long time in Pyhtitsa. It was thanks to his miraculous vision that the Assumption Cathedral was erected. St. John of Kronstadt was very fond of this monastery. His saying that there are only three steps from it to God is well known.
He also predicted: this monastery will stand inviolable, despite the fact that many Orthodox shrines will be destroyed and desecrated. This prophecy came true.
Now in the monastery the memory of this revered Russian saint is carefully preserved. In the monastery museum you can see his personal belongings and church vestments. Among the nuns there are many books signed by him. They were inherited by modern nuns from their predecessors.
Pilgrimage to the Pyukhtitsa Monastery of the Assumption
The Stavropigial Monastery of the Assumption of Pyukhtitsa (subordinate only to the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church) is open to pilgrims of both sexes. You can go there on purpose for a pilgrimage or just to get to know the monastery as one of the attractions of Estonia.
The program of stay in the monastery can be secular, during which you will get acquainted with the architectural ensemble, everyday life, the economic structure, visit the museum, the Holy Spring, you can buy what the nuns make with their hands in the monastery workshop.
All staying in the monastery are allowed to attend services in the Assumption Cathedral. For those wishing to be baptized, there is a baptismal temple. The ceremony is performed on Saturdays and Sundays. Both children under 15 and adults can be baptized. If you have a non-Christian name (Arthur, Alina…) then choose an appropriate one according to the Holy Scriptures. The owners of Christian names will remain as such.
During your stay in the monastery, you should behave with the piety appropriate to the moment. For women a strict dress code is required: a skirt below the knee and a kerchief. For men it is easier, they are not forbidden to wear shorts, shirts with short sleeves and uncovered head.
How to get an invitation
If you decide to make a targeted pilgrimage to the Monastery of the Assumption of Pyukhtitsa, then write an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org , in which you need to inform:
- Surname, first name, middle name in Latin letters.
- Date of birth (only numbers).
- Passport number and series (only numbers).
- Your city of residence (in Latin letters only).
- Consular office processing your visa.
Will respond to your request within seven days.
Shelter and food during the pilgrimage can be obtained directly at the monastery. You will not be charged money for this, although they will accept with gratitude the courtesy to make a donation to the monastery.
There is only one thing to consider: you will not be able to get any special dishes in the monastery’s refectory, and during the fasting days the menu will be tasty but especially strict. It is better to forget about alcohol.
How to come to Pyhtitsa
|Address||41201, Kuremäe, Estonia|
|Phone||+(372) 339 2124|
There are several ways to get to this abode:
- From Moscow, take the Moscow-Tallinn train to Jõhvi station, and there take bus number 116 or catch a cab to Kuremäe.
- From St. Petersburg you can take the same train or a long-distance bus to Jõhvi.
- From Tallinn bus station take a bus to Jõhvi and then bus no. 116.
Travel time is three hours.
Despite the fact that a pilgrimage to this abode does not promise any special entertainment, you will like it just in an incomprehensible way and will be remembered for a long time.
Estonian Pyukhtitsa Holy Dormition Nunnery
Your visit to the Pyukhtitsa Women’s Monastery. Those wishing to visit the monastery will become acquainted with historical moments of the development of Orthodox religion, with the life of nuns.
Among the pilgrims and tourists visiting Estonia, Pyukhtitsa Convent is known as a place of veneration for the history of the Orthodox faith. This monastery has never stopped serving God. As St. John of Kronstadt foretold, this Orthodox shrine stands inviolable, knowing neither persecution nor desecration. All its architectural wealth has been constantly ennobled and increased.
The legend of Pühtitsa’s origin
Pyuhtitsa Monastery stands on Pyuhtitsa Hill near the village of Kuremäe in Estonia.
Interesting. Legend has it that in the sixteenth century two Estonian shepherds saw the shining image of a woman on this mountain under an oak tree. Illuminated by her light, the shepherds rushed after the other villagers. But on their return, instead of the holy image, they found an icon of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary on the hill.
The miraculous relic was kept in a wooden chapel built there. Through the efforts of Prince Sergei Vladimirovich Shakhovsky, the governor of Estonia, and his wife, the year 1885 was marked by the construction of the church with the formation of an Orthodox parish.
29.04.1891. Pühtitsa is given under the patronage of Moscow Patriarchate. Since August 15 the Assumption (Dormition) women community was functioning. During the next three-year period great transformations take place, new constructions appear:
- Holy Gates;
- Church of the Assumption;
- Orphanage for orphans;
- A hospital for the poor.
At the petition of E.D. Shakhovskaya the Holy Synod allows to give the community the status of a monastery.
Sights of the monastery
The area where Pyukhtitsa Monastery is situated is difficult by relief and hydrological features. According to the architectural design of M.T. Preobrazhenski, the five-domed Cathedral of the Assumption (1910) is considered to be the central building of the walled area. On both sides of the main road there are cells, blocks for needlework and service and household premises.
Behind the cathedral building are the Refectory and the Church of Simeon and Anne (1895). On the right side of the territory guests can visit the House Church of the almshouse, consecrated in the name of St. Alexius, Metropolitan of Moscow, and St. Barbara (1986). The Representatives’ House and the hotel are also located there.
Opposite the entrance is the active church of Sergius of Radonezh (1895), the bell tower (1988), the church of St. John the Baptist and St. Isidore the Martyr (1990), and another monastery hotel.
Visitors to the church architectural ensemble enter the territory through the central entrance, i.e. the Holy Gate of the monastery with the bell tower (1893). It is impossible to miss the Protected Oak, which according to dendrologists is at least one thousand years old. Near the oak there is a chapel and cemetery church of Nicolo Arsenievsky (1885). Going down the steps, you can get to the holy spring.
On the left wishing to visit the farm, cattle yard, St. George chapel (1989). Outside the fenced square at the other exit tourists see the Chapel of St. Nicholas.
How to get there by yourself
The exact address of Pühtitsa Monastery is Ida-Virumaa County, Illuka Municipality, Kuremäe Village. How to get there depends on the place of departure:
- from Tallinn by bus to Jõhvi station;
- From Moscow by train “Moscow – Tallinn” to Jõhvi station;
- From St. Petersburg by bus or train to the same station.
Further on, from the Jõhvi station you can take bus line #116 or take a cab. The duration of the bus trip is about 3 hours.
Pilgrims who wish to have a visa invitation document for visa processing, can apply to the email address of the monastery, passing the necessary information about themselves:
- in Latin script should be written last name, first name (according to the foreign passport);
- date of birth should be indicated (format dd.mm.yyyy);
- provide the series, number of the passport;
- Desirable time, period of visit are written down;
- Provide some information, including where the person lives, has been to the monastery, the purpose of the visit.
An invitation will be sent within a week.
Despite the fact that Pyhtitsa is a women’s monastery, people of both sexes are allowed.
Excursions can be both pilgrimage and secular in nature. The secular program of stay includes:
- visiting the museum ensemble, the source of consecrated water;
- presence at services;
- Purchase of goods made by the nuns.
Interesting. Holy Baptism ceremonies are held on weekends. People of all ages are allowed to be baptized. If a person is named by a name other than Christian, according to the lists of Holy Scriptures, the appropriate one is chosen.
When within the confines of a monastery, observance of the rules is required:
- behavior must be pious;
- Women must wear long skirts and have their heads covered;
- Men may not wear shorts or short-sleeved shirts;
- the consumption of alcohol is forbidden;
- food is modest but tasty;
- fasting is observed.
The cost of sightseeing trips:
- from Tallinn – from 115 to 230 EUR (depends on the number of people, selected vehicle);
- From Moscow (8 days) – 220 EUR;
- From St. Petersburg (4 days) – 230 EUR.
The price of a guided tour of the territory by a nun – 30 EUR.
During the pilgrimage, shelter and food are free. But it is accepted to make voluntary donations to support the monastery.
For a person, who feels the need to temporarily step away from the worldly bustle, to enjoy the atmosphere of reflection, equilibrium, a visit to the Pyukhtitsa Monastery will help to realize one’s intentions.