History in tower: museum opens in Raifa monastery

History in tower: museum opens in Raifa monastery

The rarity of the 17th century and the map that united ... the Sinai Peninsula and a place in Zelenodolsk district, the history of monk Philaret shown on the ceiling, and the rarities from the collection of the National Museum of the Republic of Tatarstan and the State Archive of Tatarstan — the first but the largest in area museum hall has opened in the Raifa monastery, telling about how the monastery arose and about the first time of its existence.

“Here one can learn the history of our main shrine”

The tower to the left of the bell tower, a few tens of metres from the lake, which had been empty for many years, is now becoming one of the most visited places in the Raifa monastery. The museum of the monastery's history has received its first visitors here. The entrance to it is from the territory of the monastery, the sign with the inscription in Slavic ligature is on the left, just behind the church bench.

To the left of the wall — open embrasures, they were found during the restoration of the tower, designed to house the museum, but they were bricked up. It can be assumed that they were bricked up at a time when the monastery was a colony for children-offenders, so that the colonists could not escape. It was decided to open the embrasures, and the wall took its original form. Next to the wall — a suddenly appeared nice lawn.

A few steps down, to the door of the tower, we are in the round hall of the museum, the exposition here tells about the foundation of the monastery in Raifa until the early 18th century. The first hall is the largest in area, in total there will be four halls, their total area is about 100 square metres. Designers of the Sergey Nasekin studio and deputy director of the Sviyazhsky Museum-Reserve Elena Kartasheva worked on the creation of the museum.

The tower to the left of the bell tower, a few tens of metres from the lake, which had been empty for many years, is now becoming one of the most visited places in the Raifa monastery

“The first hall is dedicated to the history of the formation of the monastery, the history of the ancient Raifa monastery on the Sinai Peninsula, after which our monastery was named. It tells about the first benefactors, Saints Lavrentiy, Tikhon and Adrian, they gave a blessing and helped in the construction of the monastery, here the visitors can also learn the history of our main sanctuary — the Georgian Icon of the Virgin,” said governor of the Raifa monastery hegumen Gavriil (Rozhnov).

Both the floor and the ceiling are involved

The centre of the room — the layout of the Raifa monastery produced by the workshop of Sergey Nasekin. As explained by the designer, on the layout it is the Raifa of the mid-century before last, although the hall is dedicated to an earlier time. But, unfortunately, there is almost no complete information about how the monastery looked in the 18th and 17th centuries, so they had to make such a small compromise. The floor of the centre of the hall is decorated with a map of Raifa and the surrounding area — to Kazan and Sviyazhsk.

“In the 18th century, there were already many maps, on our map the animals you see, trees, symbols of rivers, villages, are made in the style of the 18th century. The site, which we have depicted on the map, we had to shrink a little, but it corresponds to the topographical principles that were then,” Sergey Nasekin explained to Realnoe Vremya.

The room is small, the designers had to show ingenuity and figure out how to place the maximum number of exhibits. Therefore, the floor, the walls, and even the ceiling are involved. Finally, the favourite feature of Nasekin’s company — the surface, on which the layout of the monastery is placed, is equipped with drawers, if opening, in each of them one can see an interesting copy of a document from the Sate Archive or the National Museum relating to the Raifa monastery.

The room is small, the designers had to show ingenuity and figure out how to place the maximum number of exhibits. Therefore, the floor, the walls, and even the ceiling are involved

The name comes from Sinai

As you know, the Raif monastery was founded in 1613 by monk Philaret, who came to Kazan from Moscow in search of solitude. Travelling through the forests, he came upon the shore of the lake, where, according to legend, he saw a column of light shedding from the sky. Realizing that this was a sign, he decided to stay at this place, where some time later he founded the monastery. The first wooden church was consecrated in honour of the holy fathers in Sinai and Raifa. There was such a tragic episode at the dawn of Christianity, when the first Christians were slaughtered by pagans in the town of Raifa on the Sinai Peninsula.

In memory of this event on one of the walls of the museum there is the map where designers depicted the Sinai Peninsula and our Raifa next to each other, as if connecting them for centuries. The ceiling of the first hall shows a film dedicated to Raifa.

The windows of the tower are turned into showcases, and there is a connection between the exhibits located in these showcases and the events of the film. When the film, for example, is telling about the Georgian Icon of the Virgin, the beam of light falls exactly on the very window where its copy is exhibited. The same it is with many other exhibits.

By the way, one of the most important rarities of the new museum is the original edition of the 17th century — the revelations of John the Apostle. There are also unique copies of documents from the State Archive and the National Museum of Tatarstan, the Panagia of the 17th century from the monastery sacristy, ancient liturgical books, vestments, photographs and more.

The centre of the room — the layout of the Raifa monastery, produced by the workshop of Sergey Nasekin

Up the stairs

One of the difficulties in creating the museum was the repair of the tower — it stands very close to the lake, and the closed room was damp. They had to have the waterproofing of the tower, then lay the tile, to plaster the walls. According to hegumen Gavriil, sponsors were not attracted, they did it with their own funds.

In total, the museum will have four levels. The second is dedicated to the golden time of the monastery — the 18th and 19th centuries. The third is the tragic years of persecution. By the way, the atmosphere of godlessness on the third level will be emphasized emotionally — there are no windows. Finally, the fourth level will be dedicated to the main builder of the monastery in its modern period, the man who revived it — Archimandrite Vsevolod, who departed from this life in August 2016.

It was his long-standing desire to make a museum of the Raifa monastery, which he did not have time to realize, and, fortunately, the work was continued and invested in with a lot of soul and heart by his successor — hegumen Gavriil. Metropolitan of Kazan and Tatarstan Feofan blessed to create the room dedicated to Archimandrite Vsevolod.

The upper levels of the museum will be connected by an internal spiral staircase, and from the fourth level, one can go to the observation deck and see today's Raifa. As hegumen Gavriil said, the entrance to the museum for tourists and pilgrims will be free, those who wish can leave a donation for the maintenance of the museum, dropping it into the mug. The remaining three levels of the museum will be opened before the end of summer.

One of the most important rarities of the new museum is the original edition of the 17th century — the revelations of John the Apostle. There are also unique copies of documents from the State Archive and the National Museum of Tatarstan, the Panagia of the 17th century from the monastery sacristy, ancient liturgical books, vestments, photographs and more

Well, after praying in the Raifa churches, visiting the museum, one can now drink tea or dine in the Monastery Refectory, the wooden cafe in the Russian style was opened by the brethren of the monastery on the shore of the lake near the Pilgrim's House.

By Tatyana Mamaeva
Tatarstan