Nepochatova Marina

Puhtitsa Uspensky Convent (of Dormition) During Years of Church Persecution (1944–1962)

Nepochatova Marina (2016) "Puhtitsa Uspensky Convent (of Dormition) During Years of Church Persecution (1944–1962) ", Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta. Seriia II : Istoriia. Istoriia Russkoy Pravoslavnoy Tserkvi, 2016, vol. 69, pp. 66-79 (in Russian).

DOI of the paper: 10.15382/sturII201669.66-79


The article discusses the post-war period in the history of the Pühtitsa Uspensky Convent (of Dormition). Founded in the late 19th century in the area where the icon of Dormition of Our Lady had traditionally been venerated, the convent stayed open through its entire history. The convent experienced many hardships during both World Wars, but the period discussed in the article was perhaps the most difficult of all for the convent. Years of 1944–1955 were for the sisters of the convent the years of deprivation and famine, and lack of bare necessities of life. Those difficulties have been deliberately brought on by the authorities.The Soviet leaders, trying to maintain the myth of there being no persecution of the faithful in Russia in the eyes of the international community, chose to destroy gradually all convents and monasteries in the USSR. Archival materials used to write this article show that high taxes and incredible amounts of agricultural products that the convent was forced to cede for the state, as well as appropriation of farmland and buildings and measures undertaken to prevent young novices from entering the convent made the existence of the convent extremely difficult. The government also prohibited pilgrims to stay at the convent for more than 1 or 2 days. These measures deprived the convent of most income and assistance that the sisters needed.A campaign was instigated by the authorities to discredit the convent, but their eff orts were in vain due to a diplomatic stand of the ruling bishop Roman (Tang) and Archimandrite Pimen (Izvekov), the future Patriarch Pimen.The convent survived despite all the measures undertaken by the authorities. The Church Relations Council under the Soviet Cabinet failed to merge the Pühtitsa convent with the convents in Riga or Vilnius, as had been originally intended. In these years of hardship, the ruling bishops Roman (Tang), Ioann (Alexeev) and Mother Superior Rafaila (Migacheva) provided any kind ofsupport for the convent. The convent received money; several dozens new novices were admitted, and the situation changed considerably for the better. It seemed that the most diffi cult period was over. However, in 1959 the USSR authorities decided to close down all the monasteries. Archival materials show how thoroughly planned and carefully carried out those activities were.In 1961 a decision was made to close down the Pühtitsa Convent. It was at that time that Bishop Alexey (Ridiger), the future Patriarch Alexey II, was appointed head of the Estonian eparchy. The bishop had had experience of working for the Department of External Church Relations (DECR) of the Moscow Patriarchate, and perhaps it was this experience, that suggested to him the way to save the convent. The bishop brought several foreign delegations to Pühtitsa, and some articles about the convent appeared in foreign press.In these circumstances, the authorities did not dare to close the convent. Subsequently, several sisters from the convent headed newly created convents all across Russia, passing them on the tradition of Orthodox monastic life.


the Orthodoxy in Estonia, the Pühtitsa Uspensky Convent (of Dormition), Patriarch Alexey II, Bishop Roman (Tang), Bishop Ioann (Alexeev), Archimandrite Pimen (Izvekov), Mother Superior Rafaila (Migacheva), the closure of the monasteries in the USSR


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Nepochatova Marina