Monastery of St. John the Forerunner (Kazan)
The Monastery of St. John the Forerunner is a monastery for men located in front of the Spasskaya (Russian: спаская - Savior) tower of the Kremlin in Kazan, Tatarstan, Russia. It was established in the sixteenth century as a dependency of the Sviyazhsk Monastery of the Mother of God.
St. Gury founded the monastery between the years 1564 and 1568. The monastery was consecrated in honor of St. John the Forerunner, the patron saint of Tsar Ivan IV (the Terrible). At first, the monastery of St John was a dependency of the Monastery of Sviyazhsk Monastery of the Mother of God. The monastery did not receive its own hegumen until 1595. The buildings of the early monastery were built of wood. As a consequence, fire was always a danger and, in 1649, the buildings of the monastery burned down.
The wealthy merchant Gavrila Fyodorovich Antipin, whose residence was near the monastery, was the benefactor for rebuilding it. The new wooden church was not equipped to be heated. The church, which had three tent shaped domes, was dedicated to the Entrance of the Lord into Jerusalem, and had two side chapels dedicated to St. John the Forerunner and the Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian. Also, a free standing stone bell tower was built at this time. During the feast of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos, September 7, 1652, Metropolitan Kornily of Kazan and Sviyazhsk consecrated the rebuilt monastery.
This unheated wooden church was supplanted with a building of stone. The new five dome stone building was three stories high with the church itself on the third floor along with the prior’s cell. The church was consecrated to the Entry of the Mother of God into the Temple, The cells for the brethren were placed on the second floor and, on the lowest floor were the kitchen, refectory, and cellars. This building could be heated. The monastery was also surrounded on three sides with stone walls. On the Kremlin side of the monastery compound, the over the gate Church of Ss Anthony and Theodosius of the Kiev Caves was built.
In 1756, an icon that contained a particle of the relics of St. German was brought to St John’s monastery from Sviyazhsk Monastery and was placed in the Church of the Entry of the Mother of God into the Temple. Translation of the icon was made under a decree of the Empress Catherine II.
Fire again caused great damage to the St. John the Forerunner Monastery on September 3, 1815. On that day a great fire burned in the city of Kazan that destroyed almost 1,200 buildings, including the monastery. Only some furniture and the icon of St. German were saved from the heated church. Restoration of the monastery began in 1818 by rehabilitating and using the unheated church. Its altar was enlarged and a new vestry was built. Cells for the monks were added in the passageway between the bell tower and the church. This work led to re-consecration of the restored church on June 24, 1819.
With the threat of fires involving the old church, plans were made to replace it with new construction. Following the demolishing of the old church in 1886, construction of a new, large church was begun on July 12, 1887. The new cathedral had three tent shaped domes as did the older church, but the church was at least twice as large, The main altar was consecrated in honor of the beheading of John the Forerunner. In 1897, a new 1,638 kg (3,600 pound) bell was hung in the bell tower. The cathedral was consecrated on December 18, 1899.
After the Bolsheviks took control of the government of Russia, in 1918, the administrative offices of the diocese, including the office of Metropolitan of Kazan Kyrill (Smirnov), were moved to the Monastery of St. John the Forerunner after having been expelled from the offices in the Kremlin. In 1922, Metr. Kyrill was banished from Kazan and died a martyr in exile. The monastery was closed by the Bolsheviks in 1929.
With the fall of the Bolshevik government, the monastery property was returned to the Kazan diocese in 1992. The monastery Church of the Entry of the Mother of God into the Temple has been restored. The brethren of the monastery now maintain a monastic atmosphere within the monastery while also pursuing their education They have developed a library in the monastery and have organized and teach at their parish school.
The physical structure of the monastery has come under stress as a result of construction of a new subway system in Kazan. The construction has shifted the ground of the hill on which the monastery is built, resulting in cracks in the building structure.