is the most important Russian monastery and the spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church. The monastery is situated in the town of Sergiyev Posad, about 70 km to the north-east from Moscow by the road leading to Yaroslavl, and currently is home to over 300 monks.
The monastery was founded in 1345 by one of the most venerated Russian saints, Sergius of Radonezh, who built a wooden church in honour of the Holy Trinity on Makovets Hill. Early development of the monastic community is well documented in contemporary lives of Sergius and his disciples. St. Sergius was declared patron saint of the Russian state in 1422. The same year the first stone cathedral was built by a team of Serbian monks who had found refuge in the monastery after the Battle of Kosovo.
It took 26 years to construct the six-pillared Assumption Cathedral, which was commissioned by Ivan the Terrible in 1559. The cathedral is much larger than its model and namesake in the Moscow Kremlin. The magnificent iconostasis of the 16th–18th centuries features Simon Ushakov's masterpiece, the icon of Last Supper. Interior walls were painted with violet and blue frescoes by a team of Yaroslavl masters in 1684. The vault contains burials of Boris Godunov, his family and several 20th-century patriarchs.
As the monastery grew into one of the wealthiest landowners in Russia, the woods where it had stood were cut over and a village (or posad) sprang up near the monastery walls. It gradually developed into the modern town of Sergiyev Posad. The cloister itself was a notable centre of chronicle-writing and icon painting. Just opposite the monastery walls St. Paraskeva's Convent was established, among whose buildings St. Paraskeva's Church (1547), Introduction Church (1547), and a 17th-century chapel over St. Paraskeva's well are still visible.
The Lavra has a number of representative churches in its vicinity and throughout Russia. The Lavra's hieromonks have manned a number of sketes at remote locations (such as the Anzer Island in the Solovki Archipelago in the White Sea), as well as the Trinity Church on the King George Island in the Antarctic.
Thank you Marina for this nice Black and White historical card.