February 23, 2016
2323 RUSSIA (Moscow Oblast) - Architectural Ensemble of the Trinity Sergius Lavra in Sergiev Posad (UNESCO WHS)
Situated in the town of Sergiyev Posad, about 70 km to the north-east from Moscow by the road leading to Yaroslavl, the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius is a world famous spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church and a popular site of pilgrimage and tourism. This religious and military complex represents an epitome of the growth of Russian architecture and contains some of that architecture’s finest expressions. It exerted a profound influence on architecture in Russia and other parts of Eastern Europe.
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. In 1355, Sergius introduced a charter which required the construction of auxiliary buildings, that was a model for Sergius' numerous followers who founded more than 400 cloisters all over Russia. 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. The relics of St. Sergius still may be seen in this cathedral, dedicated to the Holy Trinity. The greatest icon painters of medieval Russia, Andrei Rublev and Daniil Chyorny, were summoned to decorate the cathedral with frescoes. Traditionally, Muscovite royals were baptized in this cathedral and held thanksgiving services here.
In 1476, Ivan III invited several Pskovian masters to build the church of the Holy Spirit. This graceful structure is one of the few remaining examples of a Russian church topped with a belltower. 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 vault contains burials of Boris Godunov, his family and several 20th-century patriarchs.
In 1550s, a wooden palisade surrounding the cloister was replaced with 1.5 km-long stone walls, featuring twelve towers, which helped the monastery to withstand a celebrated 16-month Polish-Lithuanian siege in 1608-1610. By the end of the 17th century, when young Peter I twice found refuge within the monastery, numerous buildings had been added. The five-domed Church of John the Baptist's Nativity (1693-1699) was commissioned by the Stroganovs and built over one of the gates.
In 1744, Empress Elizabeth conferred on the cloister the dignity of the Lavra. Her secret spouse Alexey Razumovsky commissioned a baroque church to the Virgin of Smolensk, the last major shrine to be erected in the Lavra. Throughout the 19th century, the Lavra maintained its status as the richest Russian monastery. A seminary founded in 1742 was replaced by an ecclesiastical academy in 1814. In 1920, the Soviets closed the lavra, but in 1945 it was returned to the Russian Orthodox Church.
About the stamps
The first two stamps are part of a series dedicated to Russian Kremlins, about which I wrote here.
The last stamp is one of the two issued on August 23, 2015, in the series Monasteries of Russian Orthodox Church, designed by C. Ulyanovsk. The two stamps were dedicated to the 700th anniversary of Vysokopetrovsky Stavropegic Monastery and the 500th anniversary of Kaluga’s Svyato-Lavrentiev Monastery.
• Vysokopetrovsky Stavropegic Monastery (19 RUB) - It's on the postcard 2323
• Kaluga’s Svyato-Lavrentiev Monastery (19 RUB)
Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius - Wikipedia
Architectural Ensemble of the Trinity Sergius Lavra in Sergiev Posad - UNESCO official website
Sender: Galina / GalinaGab (postcrossing) RU-4446645
Sent from Stupino (Moscow Oblast / Russia), on 14.02.2016
Photo: V. Polyakov