Seven Lakes Hermitage of the Mother of God
The Seven Lakes Hermitage of the Mother of God, is a cenobitic monastery for men located near the village of Sedmiozerka in the Republic of Tatarstan in the Diocese of Kazan. The monastery, patterned after Raifa Monastery, was largely destroyed during the Soviet years and is now being rebuilt.
The Hermitage was established in a manner common for many other Russian monasteries in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In 1615, the Schema monk Evfimy, from the city of Veliky Ustiug, came to the forests of the Kazan area looking for an isolated area to establish a ascetic hermitage to pray and glorify God. The place he chose was a deserted area only visited by members of the pagan Cheremis tribes. Soon his ascetic life style became known to others, and monks and novices began to settle around him in the forest.
In 1627, the monks residing around Elder Evfimy joined together to establish formally a monastery, initially dedicated to the Holy Ascension, Shortly thereafter, the Schema monk Evfimy was transferred, by the ruling Archbishop of Kazan, to the Savior’s Transfiguration Monastery within the Kazan Kremlin where he reposed.
The monastery continued an independent existence as a small and poor monastic community for many years, subsisting on gardening. In 1649, the monastery population consisted of twenty seven monks. By the late seventeenth century, the monastery began to grow with the construction of the Ascension Cathedral and the Church of the icon of the Mother of God of Smolensk. Additionally, the monastery was encircled by a stone wall. During the nineteenth century, additional stone buildings were erected, including in 1881 the construction of a high bell tower.
In 1816, the monastery was transformed into a cenobitic community. Then, in 1884, the monastery came under the rule of the bishops of Kazan. In 1898 and 1899, during the tenure of the elder Gavrill (Zyryanov), who was tonsured as a monk with the name Tikhon, construction of the two storied church of Ss Euthymius the Great and Tikhon of Zadonsk was completed.
After the Bolshevik government of Russia formed in 1917, the brethren were dispersed and the monastery was closed in 1926. Unlike Raifa Monastery, the Seven Lakes Hermitage was largely destroyed. Only the residence building, built in 1893, and the church of Ss Euthymius the Great and Tikhon of Zadonsk remained, along with the walls of the alms house. The relics of the elder Gavrill were saved from the church of St. Euthymius and were divided for reverence between the Hermitage of Seven Lakes and the Church of St. John of Kronstadt in Kazan. Restoration of the Hermitage is progressing, with the church and residence building completed and in use.
Most Holy Theotokos of Smolensk and Seven Lakes Icon
The monastery’s founder Schema monk Evfimy brought with him to the hermitage the icon of the Holy Theotokos of Smolensk and Seven Lakes from the city of Veliky Ustiug where it had been a family treasure for many years. With the blessing of the Bishop of Kazan the wonder-working icon remained at the hermitage. During the epidemic of plague that raged through the Volga region of Russia in 1654, killing a third of the population, an apparition of the Mother of God appeared to the pious nun, Martha, in her sleep, directing that the miracle working icon of ‘’Of Seven Lakes’’ should be carried from the monastery to Kazan where the icon should be given a solemn reception by the clergy and lay administrations in a cross-carrying procession. After the procession and while the icon was in Kazan, the plague waned and then ceased.
In commemoration of this event, Metropolitan Lavrenty directed that annually, a procession of the icon would be made from the monastery to Kazan on June 26, to the place where Monastery of the Kyzichesky (of Kyzicus martyrs) Monastery was later built. During a month’s time the icon would then visit all the churches in Kazan. The miracle-working icon is now kept in the Cathedral of Ss. Peter and Paul in Kazan.