Sanaksarsky monastery: shrines and relics

Sanaksarsky Monastery in Mordovia. Photos, schedule of services, where is it, how to get there

Sanaksarsky monastery is an Orthodox monastery located in one of the most picturesque places in Mordovia. The origin of the name is not known. Perhaps its origins come from “sanav sara,” which translates as “marshland,” or the holy monastery was given its name by Lake Sanaksar, which stretches not far from the monastery.


Sanaksar monastery in Mordovia was built on the bank of the river Moksha, surrounded by forests and pools. The idea to erect the church on the bank of the river Moksha belonged to the nobleman Luka Evsyukov, who, being a man of deep faith, allocated a plot of land in his possession for the construction of the church.

To erect the holy monastery he invited from Kadom hegumen Theodosius, known for his high spirituality, who with his disciples became the founder of the Sanaksar Hermitage.

Sanaksarsky Monastery in Mordovia. Photos, schedule of services, where it is located, how to get there

For 100 years, the Sanaksary hermitage lived and developed. However, by the middle of the XVIII century, it became so impoverished that it was attached to the hermitage of Sarov. Everything changed when monk Feodor Ushakov (born Ivan Ignatyevich Ushakov) moved to Sanaksar.

Having lived two years in Sarov, he asked to give him Sanaksarsky monastery, which had fallen into decay, 3 versts away from the town Temnikov. In 1759, having received the permission, farther Theodore with all his disciples moves to the Sanaksarsk Hermitage with the firm intention to revive it. The Monk Feodor not only revived the monastery, but also gave it an architectural and spiritual “image.

Within three years the hermitage was transformed: repairs were made and a strict charter for the brethren was introduced. December 13, 1762 Bishop of Tambov Preosvjashchenny Pakhomiy persuaded Theodore Ushakov to accept the priesthood and become rector of the monastery. Under the guidance of his father Theodore, the Sanaksar Hermitage grew and strengthened considerably.

In 1764 many monasteries were abolished, but Ushakov took advantage of his connections, thanks to which the hermitage was not abolished. On the contrary, in spring of 1765 Catherine II granted it independence and ordered to call it a monastery. In addition, the Empress allocated “1000 rubles in silver”, which went to the construction of a new stone two-storeyed cathedral.

Since 1764 the building of the stone buildings began. From this period begins the heyday of Sanaksar. The temple, which survived to our time, was founded by father Fyodor in 1765 and was built under his direct supervision and with his participation. Construction took place from 1765 to 1774.

The construction of the stone church complex began with the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and continued after Father Theodore’s death. By the beginning of the XIX century the architectural ensemble of the Sanaksary monastery had been formed finally. It was very well known, had influential patrons and played a role of the spiritual center of Russia together with Sarov.

Sanaksarsky Monastery in Mordovia. Photos, schedule of services, where it is located, how to get there

However, the revolutionary events of 1917 changed the habitual way of spiritual life of the monastery. To enable the monastery to continue its existence, in 1921 a religious community (commune) was organized on its territory, where the brethren lived and worked under secular names. From time to time they were allowed to serve liturgy. But this did not save the monastery.

By 1929 it was completely closed. During the Soviet period there was an agricultural college, school of machine operators, a pioneer camp, in the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Theotokos there was a stable, in the lower temple there was a tractor workshop. The monastery was looted and desecrated. And by the 1940s, the church complex stood half-destroyed, decapitated.

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However, the stolen and desecrated monastery avoided the sad fate of many other temples. The buildings remained virtually intact, with the exception of minor damage. There are some losses, such as the chapel over the burial of Venerable Fyodor was destroyed.

The role of a talisman was played by the grave of Feodor Fyodorovich Ushakov (the invincible admiral of the Russian fleet), which is located on the territory of the church complex. In the postwar years, it was taken under protection of the state as a national shrine.

The restoration of the monastery began much later. The first restoration, as an architectural monument subject to state protection, began only in the 1970s.

Full-scale works concerned with the church revival, restoring monastery buildings and the cathedral’s interior continued only in the 90s of the last century, when on May 26, 1991, the Sanaksar Monastery was given to the Russian Orthodox Church again.

Sanaksarsky monastery in Mordovia is now almost restored. Located at some distance from various industries, the monastery is self-sufficient. It has its own sawmill, bakery, production of incense, candles and wonderful church wine.

In addition, there is a pine nursery on the territory belonging to the monastery.


The construction of the stone buildings, forming part of the architectural ensemble of the monastery, took a relatively short period of time, so the whole church complex has a stylistic uniformity (complete absence of eclecticism), which distinguishes it from most monasteries, the construction of which lasted for several centuries.

Sanaksarsky Monastery in Mordovia. Photos, schedule of services, where it is located, how to get there

The construction took place under the direct supervision of Father Theodore, and then the elder Filaret. In general the monastery ensemble was formed during the period from 1765 to 1820. By the end of the XVIII century Sanaksar had already approximately the view, which is seen now by the pilgrims visiting it.

Sanaksar monastery in Mordovia is an enclosed space, which by its form is a trapezium. There is no fence in the conventional sense. The church territory is fenced by enclosures of cells connected to each other by a low wall with three corner towers.

In front of the main entrance there is a three-tier Baroque building of the five-domed Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which is the spiritual and architectural center of the whole complex. It sits in front of the central gate and is fenced on all sides by other monastic structures that line the perimeter of the monastery courtyard.

The cathedral was built according to the plan developed by Hierodeacon Filaret (Bylinin). The temple was decorated with a magnificent carved iconostasis. On the facades of the building – colorful paintings. The inner decoration of the walls, also belonging to the brush of elder Filaret, was made in rococo style.

Other buildings are located along the perimeter of the church yard around the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary:

  • Directly opposite the church on the opposite side of the courtyard is the bell tower (built in 1776), the outlines of which bear a resemblance to the silhouettes of the belfries and towers of St. Petersburg’s Alexander Nevsky Lavra.
  • One-domed hospital church erected in honor of the icon of Our Lady of Vladimir and hospital cells are located in the southeast corner of the yard.

Further on one can see:

  • the rectory and treasury cells;
  • the refectory building;
  • the brotherhood wing;
  • the monks’ and hieromonks’ quarters.

Construction of residential buildings took less than 15 years (from 1777 to 1790). During this time were erected building of a refectory (1777), fraternal (1779) and hospital cells, two-storey stone building for hieromonks (1781) and building for monks (1782).

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In 1785-1787, outside the main area (since the area of the monastery courtyard is small) was built a two-story hotel for pilgrims, which is located about 100 meters from the west wall of the monastery. It, too, survives to this day.

At 250 meters from the Holy Gate is a church cemetery and a stone Church of the Resurrection (1805), distinguished by the “capital” architecture. It is located by the road and is the first to be seen by pilgrims. This is where the first acquaintance with Sanaksarskaya monastery begins. Drawings of the cemetery church were made personally by hieromonk Filaret.

Not so long ago at the cemetery appeared another construction in the form of a pergola. This building is a chapel that was built over the burial place of the elder Jerome, who was a brotherly confessor during his lifetime.

In addition, the pilgrims are very interested in the healing spring with extremely delicious water.


Now the main shrines of the monastery are the miraculous relics of two warriors of Christ: Theodore of Sanaksary and Theodore Ushakov. In 2004, the starets Feodor of Sanaksary and the Admiral of the Russian Navy Feodor Fyodor Ushakov were glorified as Russian national saints by the decision (a native nephew of St. Feodor) of the Synodal Commission on the canonization of the saints.

Sanaksarsky Monastery in Mordovia. Photos, schedule of services, where it is located, how to get there

The relics of Venerable Feodor are in the Church of the Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God. Not far from them is an elaborately carved-out boat-shaped reliquary with the relics of “his kinsman from the nobility,” Feodor Fyodorovich Ushakov.

Here in the temple rest the relics of prelate Alexander (the last abbot of Sanaksar before closing it).

In the monastery there are the icons of the Mother of God especially venerated by the pilgrims and brethren:

  • A seventeenth-century copy of the Kazan icon of the Mother of God,
  • the icon of Theodore of the Mother of God;
  • the icon of the Theotokos, which is called the “Sporitelnitsa of Bread”;
  • The Sicilian, painted from a miracle-working icon from the Divnogorsky Monastery of the Voronezh Diocese and brought as a gift to the Sanaksarsky Monastery;
  • The Pochaevskaya with the faces of the Mother of God and the Infant God in an enclosure of multicolored beads and stones.

The Sanaksar Monastery in Mordovia also has other shrines, including those with parts of holy relics.

Sanaksarsky Monastery in Mordovia. Photos, schedule of services, where it is located, how to get there

At the initiative of the Imperial Orthodox Palestinian Society, Sergei Stepashin, and through the zeal of the members of the Russian Noble Assembly, ancient Christian shrines were transferred to the monastery: pieces of the life-giving cross of the Lord, of St. Sabba the Consecrated, of St. Barbara the Martyr, and of the Palestinian martyrs.

Interesting facts and legends

Sanaksar monastery in Mordovia exists for over 360 years. During this time there have been many miracles, testifying to the sanctity of the monastery.

One of the first miracles, which human memory has brought to this day, refers to the period of construction of the five-domed Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

It is said that immediately after the trenches intended for laying the foundation of the future church had been dug, a swarm of bees flew in during the prayer service and descended upon the place designated for the future altar. This amazing event was a sign from above, foreshadowing abundant grace for the monastery.

On the great holiness of the elder Theodore and Admiral Ushakov says the fact that the opening in 1949 of their graves, the remains were imperishable (even the uniform of Feodor Feodorovich Ushakov was in perfect safety). The holy relics residing in the monastery are famous for miracles of healing. Some pilgrims tell of being sent here by the Queen of Heaven herself.

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Sanaksarsky Monastery in Mordovia. Photos, schedule of services, where it is located, how to get there

In 1991 there was a miracle witnessed by the first inhabitants of the monastery. They say that when they first entered the arched gate of the monastery, they came to meet a gray-haired old man, who then went to the monastery wall, located from the city Temnikov and came to it, dissolved into thin air in front of the astonished inhabitants.

Having carefully studied the remaining images of Hieromonk Feodor, witnesses to the event claim that he was the mysterious elder who met them outside the gates of the newly opened Sanaksarsky monastery.

A few years ago, another miracle was recorded. In the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary the miraculous icon of the Theodore Mother of God was renewed, which is now located in the altar of the cathedral.

Working schedule and schedule of services

Divine Liturgy is celebrated every day at 8:00 in the monastery. On Sundays there is an early liturgy at 6:00 a.m. in the church of St. Vladimir. The start of the evening service is at 18:00, the all-night service on the eve of Sundays and holidays is at 17:00.

There are special feasts for the saints, whose relics are at rest in the monastery:

  • Feodor of Sanaksary – March 4 (death) and May 4 (finding of relics);
  • of the holy righteous warrior Feodor – August 5 (glorification) and October 15 (death);
  • The Venerable Confessor Alexander on August 27 (death) and September 18 (recovery of relics).

The feast day of the monastery, the Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God, is especially solemn on September 21.


  • Postal address: 431220, Mordovia Republic, the town of Temnikov, the Sanaxar Monastery of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
  • Official website: sanaxar.
  • Phones: (83445) 2-91-70, 2-91-02.
  • Monastery hotel. Phone: 8-917-990-14-66.

How to get there

You can visit the Sanaksar monastery in Mordovia as part of a tour group or get to the holy places on your own by buses, which go to the monastery from many Russian cities.

Other options are also possible:

Points of arrival transport Stops
1. To the town of Temnikov train station. “Zubova Polyana
bus г. Temnikov
2. From the town of Temnikov to the monastery bus Alekseevka village
on foot 2 km to the Sanaksarsky Monastery

If the departure point is Diveevo, then you have to go through Voznesensk, Tengushevo, Temnikov, and then from Temnikov to Sanaksary.

You can get to Sanaksarsky monastery by car. To do it you must go along the highway M-5 (“Ural”) to Zubovaya Polyana (it is 440 kilometers from Moscow, 201 kilometers from Saransk) which is situated in Mordovia. On the 20 km you are to turn left to the highway R-180 going towards Krasnoslobodsk, and then go by Temnikov (leaving it on the right side) following the sign to Sanaksar.

Where to stay

There are guest houses in Sanaksarskiy monastery (as well as 300 years ago) where pilgrims can stay. The maximum period of stay in them is limited to 3 days. However, accommodation and meals are provided free of charge.

Due to the fact that Sanaksary is a men’s monastery, accommodation for men is organized inside the monastery, and for women there are rooms, which are outside the monastery courtyard.

Now the Sanaksary Monastery, located in Mordovia, is a functioning monastery and is one of the busiest pilgrimage centers. In addition, it has the status of a monument of architecture, which is under the protection of the state and is included in the project “Golden Ring of Russia”.

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Video about the monastery

A film about the Sanaksary monastery in Mordovia “Tale of monasticism”:

Sanaksary monastery on the map of Mordovia

The working Sanaksarsky Christmas Monastery, located in the Republic of Mordovia, is a monument of architecture of the 18th century and a holy place.

Sanaksarsky monastery is located in the Republic of Mordovia, Temnikovsky district. It belongs to the Krasnoslobodsk diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church. The walls of the monastery on one side stand directly above the water of the river Moksha, on the other side they are bordered by the forest.

How to Get to the Monastery

The nearest settlements to the monastery – the town Temnikov and the village of Alexeevka. The way from Temnikov to the Sanaksarsky Monastery is 4 km. You need to cross the pedestrian bridge over the Moksha River and follow on foot. You can also take a cab, its cost is about 250 RUR.

You can get to Temnikov:

  • By car . The distance from Moscow is 540 km to the east along the M-5 “Ural” highway through Ryazan. Along the road there are often cafes, guest houses and gas stations. The road surface is asphalt concrete.
  • By bus . There is a daily bus service to Temnikov from Moscow. The cost of a ticket for one passenger is 1000 RUR, travel time is 9 hours.
  • Pilgrimage tours. Sanaksarsky monastery is included in the programs of excursions leaving from different cities of Russia. A three-day tour from Moscow with a stop in Diveevo and Murom will cost RUR 5200 to RUR 7500. A two-day tour from Saratov to Diveevo-Sanaksary costs from 2600 RUR for one person.

  1. Church of Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God
  2. The Church of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God
  3. Monastery bell tower
  4. Church of the Resurrection
  5. Chapel burial vault of Scheigumen Jerome
  6. Monastery buildings
  7. Crypt building (XVIII century)
  8. Crypt building (XVIII century)
  9. Hospital block
  10. Crypt building (XVIII century)
  11. Refectory Block (18th century)
  12. Superior Corps (18th century)
  13. Treasury Building
  14. Hotel building
  15. Towers and fence walls
  16. Outer stone enclosure (18th century)
  17. Monument to Admiral Fyodor Ushakov

History of appearance

The Sanaksary Monastery of the Nativity of the Theotokos was founded in 1659 by nobleman Luka Yesyukov. The first buildings were made of wood, the brethren were few in number. Father Theodosius, the first abbot of the monastery, then his followers during the century made efforts to develop the monastery. However, the monastery had no fame and fortune and fell into decay.

Interesting fact: The monastery got its name from the lake of the same name, located nearby. In translation from the local dialect “sanaksar” means “lying in a swampy area.

At the end of XVIII century with the advent of the Monk father Theodore the blossoming of the monastery began. During the period of 1776-1810 stone buildings were erected:

  • The main church of the Nativity of the Mother of God;
  • The Gate Church with a Belfry;
  • The Hospital Church of St. Vladimir;
  • Cemetery Church of the Resurrection of Christ;
  • Two-story buildings for brethren, workshops, refectory;
  • Outer walls with two towers.

A major benefactor of Sanaksar was a former admiral of the Russian Empire fleet Fedor Fedorovich Ushakov. He bought Alexeevka village near the monastery and settled there. During fasting, he lived in one of the cells, observing the charter on a par with the brethren. During his lifetime, he donated large sums for the monastery’s needs, and after his death he willed to be buried within its walls.

Interesting fact: In the middle of the XIX century the brethren of Sanaksarsky monastery was replenished from the nobility, the former military.

Prosperity went into decline by the beginning of the twentieth century. Bolshevik ideas roamed among the monks and morals fell into disrepair.

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In 1920, a revolt resulted in the overthrow of the abbot, the shrines were desecrated, and the property was taken over by looters. The heads of the temples were destroyed, the cemetery was ruined, and the artistic paintings were spoiled. Monastic premises were used as stables, garages of rural school of mechanics, warehouses.

Revival and restoration of the monastery began in the 70s by the decision of the Soviet authorities to preserve the architectural monument. In 1991 the monastery became the functioning one.

Weather and Climate

The climate of the area, where the Sanaksary Monastery is located, is moderately continental. Weather conditions are about the same as in the central region of Russia. Temperatures range from -10 in January to +30 in July.

Pilgrimage to the Sanaksar shrine is available all year round.

Relics and shrines of the monastery

On the territory of Sanaksarsky monastery there are 4 churches and chapel-shrine of St. Jerome. There is a church shop selling souvenirs, icons, books, church utensils. And the entire architectural ensemble in the Baroque style does not leave visitors indifferent.

Pilgrims from different cities of Russia come to Sanaksary to worship the shrines:

  • The miraculous icon of Our Lady of Kazan;
  • The Icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary;
  • The relics of the Venerable Theodore;
  • The relics of the Righteous Warrior Theodore Ushakov and a monument in his honor;
  • The relics of the Venerable Alexander the Confessor.

In the monastery is one holy spring, outside of her second – the name of St. Theodosius. There are two closed fonts on the territory of the monastery, equipped with railings and steps.

Useful Information

In Sanaksar monastery for pilgrims there are living houses. Men are placed inside the monastery, women – outside it. Maximal term of stay is 3 days. If they plan to spend a night at the monastery, they should ask the hotel about availability of free places beforehand. Accommodation and meals at the monastery’s refectory are free for guests.

Interesting fact: There is a shop near the gates of the monastery, which sells delicious monastery-made pastries.

A visit to the holy monastery requires the observance of the rules of behavior and appearance:

  • In front of the gates of the monastery one makes a bow of the waist and makes the sign of the cross three times;
  • On the territory of the monastery, in the temples, in the living room are not allowed loud conversations, fuss, noise;
  • Pilgrims who stayed overnight, strictly observe the internal order, present at all services;
  • Clothing choose long-sleeved, clean and neat. The women must wear skirts and scarves;
  • The use of cosmetics that leave traces when kissing is not allowed;
  • When applying to a clergyman, first ask for a blessing, only after that go to the heart of the matter.

In the Sanaksar Monastery believers who want to work for the glory of God are welcomed. The payment for the work is shelter and food.

Sanaksar monastery has 359 years of history, during which there have been ups and downs. Pilgrimage to the holy place, prayer at the church service, ablution in the font of the holy spring will give peace and quiet, and the icon of Our Lady of Kazan has the ability to heal diseases.

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