Spaso-Preobrazhensky monastery

Spaso-Preobrazhensky monastery
Ryazan an earthen rampart and a fortress ditch

Spaso-Preobrazhensky monastery in Ryazan

The Spaso-Preobrazhensky Monastery is located in the Ryazan Kremlin, at the very place where, at the confluence of two rivers Trubezh and Lybed, in 1095 the city of Pereyaslavl was founded. At the end of the 11th century, Lake Bystroe was located here, at which the first Ryazan bishop Arseny in 1225 consecrated the church “Nicholas the Old”. Now everything looks different: the lake has long been filled up, the old church is no longer there, and the city itself is called differently. But the beauty of this place is still mesmerizing.

Ryazan land has long been an important stronghold of Orthodoxy. An independent episcopal see existed in Staraya Ryazan from the end of the 13th century. But Pereyaslavl (this is what the present Ryazan was called until 1778) enjoyed the attention of the Ryazan bishops. So, back in 1208, the first bishop of Murom and Ryazan, Arseny, “laid the city of Pereslavl by the lake,” that is, he consecrated the renovation of the Kremlin buildings.

In 1237, Batu’s invasion left only ruins and ashes from the desperately defended former capital of the principality – Old Ryazan. As the chronicler says, “the city of Ryazan and the land of Ryazan have changed … and the country is glorified, and nothing is good in it to see only smoke and ash.” The people began to move to more protected places, including Pereyaslavl-Ryazan, which was not ruined and gradually occupied the position of the main city of the Ryazan land. After another devastating raid of the Tatars in 1288, Saint Basil of Ryazan transferred the episcopal see to Pereyaslavl. The princely court moved after him. So Pereyaslavl became the political and spiritual center of the Ryazan principality.

Spaso-Preobrazhensky monastery
Vestments and Bishop’s Staff of Vladyka Stephen of Yavorsky

Until 1917, the Ryazan diocese consisted of 24 monasteries, but the Spaso-Preobrazhensky monastery is rightfully considered one of the oldest among them. In ancient monuments, it is called “Spaso-Preobrazhensky monastery”, which is inside the city.” The exact date of its foundation is hidden from us, but, most likely, the monastery was founded in the XIV century, during the reign of the Grand Duke Oleg Ivanovich of Ryazan. Little information has been preserved about the life of the monastery until the middle of the 17th century. However, it is known that he always had a special significance – this was also recognized by the Ryazan rulers, who made generous donations and contributions. The very first written testimony about the monastery, dated 1467, is connected with the fact that then from the Ryazan Grand Duke Ivan Vasilyevich the monastery received a charter for the estates.

And in 1501, “Prince Fyodor Vasilyevich gave the Abbot of the Transfiguration to the Abbot of Spasov and his brethren the village of Gavrilovskoye” with “everything that was to that village from ancient times.” Since 1522, it was the bell of the Epiphany Church of the Transfiguration Monastery that began the morning bell, which was then picked up by all the churches of the city. The abbots of the monastery since ancient times had the rank of archimandrite, not abbot, which also emphasized the importance of the monastery. Its significance was also indicated by the fact that, starting from the 90s of the 16th century, the Archimandrite of the Savior was invited to Councils in Moscow.

Spaso-Preobrazhensky monastery
The tomb of the Ryazan princes in the Nativity of Christ Cathedral of the Ryazan Kremlin

Since 1653, according to the tsar’s decree and the patriarchal charter, the rectors could wear a “white hat” during the service, later they were given the right to use the carpet, which was a sign of high distinction. The situation did not change in the 18th century. In 1742, by decree of the Holy Synod, “to distinguish them from the abbots, pectoral crosses were placed on the archimandrites.” Since 1757, by order of Bishop Demetrius, the monastery began to be called paramount, and from that time on, the abbots have governors.
In addition, since the second half of the 18th century, the abbots of the Savior Monastery in the rank of archimandrites simultaneously served as the rector of the Ryazan Theological Seminary. This increased the authority of both the monastery and the seminary.
Initially, all buildings in the Spaso-Preobrazhensky Monastery were wooden. Little news has reached us about the fate of the monastery during the Time of Troubles, but, most likely, the monastery buildings could have suffered in 1618. Then Pereyaslavl-Ryazan was attacked by the detachments of the Zaporozhye hetman Peter Sagaidachny and the troops of the Polish prince Vladislav, who was aiming for the Moscow throne. Although the enemies could not take the Pereyaslavl Kremlin, they brutally plundered the surroundings.

Spaso-Preobrazhensky monastery
Monument to Grand Duke Oleg Ivanovich in Ryazan (opened on October 28, 2007).

Soon after, eight new wooden churches and an oak bell tower appeared in the Kremlin: the previous buildings were probably seriously damaged. It is possible that the Spaso-Preobrazhensky Monastery did not escape destruction either. Interestingly, later, Hetman Sagaidachny, on behalf of the entire Zaporozhye Army, asked Patriarch Theophanes of Jerusalem “for absolution of the sin of spilling Christian blood” in the Moscow state, but received only a harsh reprimand for the war against the same-believing country.
The next ordeal of the Savior monastery had to be endured in 1647, when a fire destroyed all the wooden buildings of the monastery. After that, from the second half of the 17th century, stone construction began here and the monastery gradually acquired the appearance it has today.

In the 40s of the 17th century, a stone Church of the Epiphany was erected with two side-altars – Pokrovsky and in the name of the Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian. The bell tower at her had six bells. The largest of them reads the inscription: “In the summer of 7155 (1647) this bell was merged, under the rule of the Tsar and Grand Duke Alexei Mikhailovich, of All Russia, and that bell poured to the All-Merciful Savior that in Ryazan, in the city, Kolomna bishop Raphael, to his parents in eternal remembrance, with his son of the same monastery, Archimandrite Bogolep. ”

Nowadays, not everyone knows that earlier there was a church over the Holy Gates in the name of the Monk Varlaam of Khutynsky, the Novgorod miracle worker. It was erected in 1679, it stood for only 13 years and collapsed when the Kremlin’s Assumption Cathedral collapsed in 1692.
In the second half of the 17th century, the fraternal and abbot buildings were erected. Over time, these buildings were renovated, and in 1901-1904 between them built the John-Joseph Church, which united the two buildings into one whole.

Spaso-Preobrazhensky monastery
Bishop’s house, where Metropolitan Stephen could stay

In 1702, under the rector, Archimandrite Leo, the merchant of the living room of the hundred, Mikhail Fedorovich Nemchinov, built the Church of the Transfiguration of the Lord. It had a five-tiered baroque iconostasis. According to the reviews of those who saw this iconostasis, the icons of the local row made a special impression, for which in 1754 silver vestments with gilded crowns were made at the expense of the merchant Ivan Vasilyevich Osminin.

By the middle of the 18th century, the Spaso-Preobrazhensky Monastery owned vast estates. He owned more than 10 villages and villages with a population of almost 3000 people, land in Ryazan, fishing grounds, even an “empty yard” near the Yauza River in Moscow. But in 1764, as a result of the secularization carried out by Catherine II, the Spasskaya monastery lost all its estates. At the same time, she was given a mill, forest and land. All this was rented out, and the income received went to the maintenance of monastic buildings, churches and the life support of the brethren. With all the vicissitudes of political life, the monastery has always attracted pilgrims and remained quite wealthy. Here was an ancient image of the Most Holy Theotokos “Satisfy my sorrows”, especially revered by the inhabitants of the city of Ryazan. Many donors have made generous contributions.

The abbots in the rank of archimandrites ruled the Transfiguration Monastery for several centuries. But in 1868 vicar bishops appeared in the Ryazan diocese. Since then, the Savior Monastery was run by a vicar, and this continued until 1902, when the cathedra of vicar bishops was transferred to the Trinity Monastery.
In 1907 she was returned to the Spassky Monastery. The number of brethren of the Spaso-Preobrazhensky Monastery from the time of its foundation until the beginning of the 20th century changed very little. So, for example, in 1746 twenty inhabitants asceticised in the monastery, and in 1917 – sixteen, which is quite comparable.

Spaso-Preobrazhensky monastery
Bell tower of the Epiphany Church of the Spassky Monastery. It was her bell in the 16th century that began the morning bell in Pereyaslavl-Ryazan.

After the revolution, the Spaso-Preobrazhensky monastery suffered the fate of many other monasteries. It was finally closed, apparently in 1920, since that year is dated a document on the provision of an apartment to the abbot of the Spassky Monastery in connection with the eviction. The new government adapted the territory of the monastery to the place of keeping cholera patients. Soon, due to the epidemic, the monastery cemetery was also closed. Parishioners, in order to save the Savior monastery, prepared an appeal with a request to create a religious community here, but no permission was given, and in 1922 all the property of the monastery was described, and the most valuable things were transferred to the museum. The believers managed to take from the monastery the miraculous icon “Satisfy my sorrows” – later, its trace, unfortunately, was lost.

In the buildings of the monastery, the hospital, the city executive committee, and military units were sequentially located. Since 1935, the territory of the monastery with all the buildings was taken over by the museum, and communal apartments were arranged in the abbot and fraternal buildings. In the 1960s, the storage of the State Archives of the Ryazan Region “moved in” to the Transfiguration Cathedral, and the archive of the registry office to the Epiphany Church. In 1968, the former monastery with all its buildings became part of the Ryazan Historical and Architectural Museum-Reserve.

A new page in the history of the monastery opened in 1996, when the monastery buildings were transferred to the Ryazan Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church. The first to be returned were the rector’s and fraternal corps; they housed the Ryazan Theological School, which in 2004 was transformed into the Theological Seminary.

In 2005, the Holy Synod, headed by His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia, decided to open the Transfiguration Monastery in the Ryazan Kremlin and resume monastic life in it. In 2007, the monastery was transferred to the Transfiguration Cathedral and the Epiphany Church, after which their restoration began. Restoration work is underway in the monastery.

Spaso-Preobrazhensky monastery
Remains of medieval fortifications in Ryazan an earthen rampart and a fortress ditch