Convent of Kazan Icon of the Mother of God
Address: Cross-Exaltation Cathedral
Republic of Tatarstan, Kazan
Bolshaya Krasnaya str., 5
The history of the convent of Our Lady of Kazan is inseparably linked with finding, glorifying and honoring the miracle-working icon of Our Lady of Kazan in Russia. This icon is one of the most honored ones esteemed in Russian Church. Among the other icons of Our Lady, the Kazan image has the greatest number of miracle-working copies, which are worshipped in Russia. In pre- Revolutionary period a name of Kazan, the principal town of a province was mainly associated by the Russian mentality with the miracle-working icon of Our Lady that was kept at the convent of Our Lady of Kazan. Below is the history of finding the miracle-working icon and founding of the convent. At the beginning of July, 1579 there was a conflagration in Kazan. The fire enveloped quite a district that joined the Kremlin of northeast. The yard of Danila Onuchin, the strelets sotnik was burned down. Though the Onuchins was a gentry family that moved to Kazan from Nizhny Novgorod in the 1560s, by tradition, Daniel is a strelets. Our Lady appeared herself thrice to 12-year-old daughter of Onuchin called Marfa and told her to go to the charred ruins of town and find an image of Hers. The girl told about the vision to her mother, and the latter related that to the archbishop of Kazan Jeremiah, who blessed the priesthood to participate in searching for the icon. On July 8, 1579 Marfa found the icon of Our Lady at a site of fire. The same day the icon was brought to the parish Church of St. Nicholas of Tula, which was situated near a place the icon was found. The priest of the Church of St. Nicholas at Gostiny Dvor of Kazan Yermolai, canonized by Russian Church in 1913, later on the metropolitan of Kazan, the Patriarch of All Russia, the martyr, participated in searching for the icon of Our Lady. When at the head of the metropoly of Kazan, he wrote a legend of finding the icon and miracle-workings it performed.
In 1595 a special celebration of the icon of Our Lady was fixed on July 8 in commemoration of the finding the miracle-working icon. In 1611 the Patriarch Hermogen, immured at the Chudov monastery, called the metropolitan Efrem for fight against the Polish invaders. Efrem the metropolitan dispatched the volunteer-vanguard along with a copy of the icon Our lady to the volunteer corps under command of Minin and Pozharsky. Before the fight for liberation of Moscow, the Russian volunteer corps prayed to the miracle-working icon. Therefore, the liberation of Moscow from Polish invaders was ascribed to the Intercession of Our Lady «for the sake of the Kazan icon of Hers». In commemoration of that event the second celebration of the Kazan icon of Our Lady was fixed on October 22 all over Russia. The icon's copy was withdrawn form disposal of the volunteer corps and transferred to the cathedral of Kazan, which was specially constructed for it on Krasnaya Square in Moscow. Another copy of the miracle-working icon was kept at the cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan in St. Petersburg. Before the Revolution Kazan, Moscow and St. Petersburg contested between each other for the right of being a holder of the origin icon of Our Lady. In 1904, the staggering event happened. Late at night, on June 29, the miracle-working icon was theft from the Convent of Our Lady of Kazan. Shortly after, the thieves were arrested, but the icon disappeared. It was assumed that the icon might had been burnt down or sold to the Old-believers, but both versions were not provided with proofs. The investigation gave no answer to the numerous questions the faithful asked.
Notwithstanding the sorrowful incident of theft of the icon, a stream of pilgrims continued to come to the place of its finding. In 1910-1913, the underground temple was constructed at the basement of cathedral, exactly at the spot where the icon was found. Moreover, a legend was spread around Kazan that, in fact, the stolen icon was a copy of the ancient origin, which was saved and concealed by the old mother superior. That is why nowadays many people insist that the very origin of the ancient icon is kept in the Church of SS. Miracle-Workers of Yaroslavl at the cemetery of Arsk in Kazan. Marfa took the veil and became one of the mother superiors of the monastery founded at the place of finding the miracle-working icon. The monastery of Our Lady of Kazan possessed the territory that is limited by the contemporary streets named Bolshaya Krasnaya, Yapeev Street, Nagornaya Street, and a lane close by the Pyatnitskaya Church. To the beginning of the 20th century the monastery of Our Lady of Kazan turned into a big architectural complex of buildings constructed at different times. Unfortunately, a major part of those buildings was demolished in Soviet time. The main cathedral of the monastery was pulled down. It had been erected at the place of finding the icon by the project of the famous architect of Moscow Ivan Starov from 1798 to 1808. A six-tiered 55 meters high bell-tower of the 18th century was lost.
From the extensive monastery complex there have been remained a two-storied building erected from 1882 to 1887 with the church of Cross Elevation, and the over-the-gate church of St. Sophia, which was returned to the Diocese of Kazan in 1993. Farther to the depth of a blockhouse, the building of the Church of St. Nicholas and the Prior's house are situated in a semicircular position towards the place, where the cathedral Our Lady of Kazan stood once. Both buildings were erected by the project of architect Yakov Shelkovnikov from 1810 to 1843. In Nagornaya street there is a Church of St. Nicholas. It was erected in 1810-1816 at a spot of a parish church that initially received the icon just after the finding. At present the Church of St. Nicholas is significantly rebuilt.
At present, restoration works are under way; the interior has been repaired, restoration of wall painting of Cross-Exaltation church is carried out. The revival of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan is planned. On July 21, 2005 His Holiness the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexy II visited the holy abode, where the solemn ceremony of handing out the miraculous Vatican copy of the Kazan icon of the Mother of God took place. The icon was placed in Cross Elevation church. Divine services are conducted in the church every day and all faithful can visit it to venerate the shrine.
Clergy: Abbot Pitirim (Rybanin) – dean, Hieromonk Andrey (Sirotkin), Hieromonk Veniamin (Bodroshev), Fr. Sergy Dyatlov, Fr. Alexey Kolyasyev, Hierodeacon Nil (Polashtchenko), deacon Yevgeny Kuznetsov.