Goritsy and the Monastery of the White Lake

Wherever you look in Russia there are gorgeous buildings – along the river, in the towns, peeping over the trees, in the cities – but sadly so many of them are in desperate need of renovations. They look sad and tired.

On arrival in Goritsy we boarded buses for our visit to the Monastery of the White Lake, Kirillov. Although it was founded in 1397, and is of course old, it is dilapidated. It is so very depressing to think that at its peak, it was home to two hundred monks. Today, it is mainly a museum and chapels. Part of its beauty is the contrast between the restoration that has already taken place and the old walls, towers, chapels and monk cells. Strolling through the gardens you can feel the serenity the monks would’ve felt living here. It feels sacred. It feels peaceful.

We were treated to a choir of three in one of the chapels. The acoustics within the ancient walls and the harmonising male voices brought the spirit of the monetary to life. You could feel commitment to God and work dedicated to others. I could almost touch the passion and the history.

The museum was an interesting display of art, weapons, icons and clothing, depicting the life and times of this monastery, the community and Russia.

As we exited through the main archway, we were greeted by a wedding party. The bride and groom were coming to have their photographs taken here. This is a real indication of the importance of this monastery and what it represents to those in the local community and from surrounding villages. The photographs will no doubt produce a wonderful contrast – the white wedding gown against the backdrop of the fortress-like stone walls.

If the role of a monastery is to provide peace and spirituality to this community, then this collection of buildings on the White Lake still serves this purpose. I walked away feeling pensive and reflective and oddly fulfilled.

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