A New Monastery In The Carpathians

Below we present an abridged translation of a conversation with Archimandrite Peter (Priadko), the head of the monastery of the holy great-martyr and healer Panteleimon in Kamenko in the Diocese of Mukachevo-Uzhgorod in Carpatho-Russia, at present in the Transcarpathian Region of the Ukraine.

This first appeared on the pravoslavie.ru website at the end of January 2007. It reminds us that the contemporary Russian Orthodox Church is opening three new churches every day and one new monastic house every week. Who would not wish to support and take communion with such a Church?

‘Our monastery is not new, it was founded in 2000 and, from a worldly point of view, its foundation was not ordinary. In the nearby village of Osy, there lived a retired priest, Fr George Petrovtsy. He was then over sixty, suffered from bad health and wished to become a monk.

Now, one Easter he had a dream, which was repeated three times on three nights in a row. He dreamed that he was sitting on a hill and, on the hill opposite, across a small river, he could see a wonderful monastery. A voice from heaven spoke to Fr George: ‘Build a monastery in this place’. He took this as a Divine command and began to seek out the place he had seen in his dream. He found it in Kamenko.

Two donors appeared with the necessary funds and they began to build. First they put up a cross, then a wooden chapel and then a large stone church. It took Fr George three years to build the monastery, after which he passed away very quickly. There are now four of us in the monastery and we are finishing off the inside of the stone church. We have daily services and do missionary work in Irshava, the nearest big town. In the area around Irshava there are three convents but only one monastery - ours.

Recently, a family that lives in the forests nearby told us that monks had lived here before us. We found several old monastic cells, cut out of the cliffs, similar to those in the Kiev Caves Monastery. We found one large cell, cut out in the form of a cross. This cell has excellent acoustics and we think it used to be a church. We hope to start services there again. We believe that these caves were created about 150 years ago. Originally, they were perhaps made long ago by iron ore miners and then abandoned. However, Orthodox monks may have come here, when they were persecuted by Uniatism.

Bishop Agapit of Mukachevo and Uzhgorod and Archimandrite Peter

Although most of our monks are from Kiev, we also have parishioners from the local village, even though that is three miles away and our services are all monastic. But the Carpatho-Russians are very devout. We are helped by our excellent relations with the local authorities, who strongly support us. The village has a new Orthodox church, built twelve years ago. It is big for a village church, but typical for Carpatho-Russia. The village also has a Uniat church, which is about 200 years old. The old Orthodox church, which was made of wood, was pulled down by the Communists in 1947.

In Carpatho-Russia there is a monastery or convent in nearly every large village. There are now some forty monastic houses in Transcarpathia. The Orthodox Faith here is very strong. Church tradition has continued without interruption ever since Sts Cyril and Methodius, the enlighteners of Carpatho-Russia. Thus, it was local people who started to build the monastery. They built the wooden chapel, where we started to serve the Divine liturgy. On feast-days the local people get their national costumes out of their trunks. At Christmas they sing carols and come to the monastery and sing them. On Sundays all the parishioners take part in the service, singing the melodies all together…’.

Translated by Priest Andrew Phillips.

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