St. Makary Hermitage (Kazan)
The St. Makary Hermitage is a small monastery in the Diocese of Kazan, Tatarstan. The hermitage is situated at a particularly scenic spot along the Volga River, near the village of Sviyazhsk. The hermitage’s establishment is attributed to St. Makary of Zheltiye Vody (Yellow Water) and Uzhha who after visiting the area expressed in his will the desire to found a monastery there.
The hermitage was established in the mid seventeenth century by the Schema-monk Isaiah on the place along the Volga River that had been specified in the will of the St. Makary of Zheltiye Vody (Yellow Water) and Uzhha. The site was in an isolated area near the town of Sviyazhsk. The village of Sviyazhsk is now on the island of the same name, upriver from the city of Kazan on the Volga River.
The backward reference of the founding of St. Makary Hermitage to St. Makary’s visit to the area some two centuries earlier comes from the tradition about St. Makary’s journey after he was was released from captivity by Khan Ulu-Mukhammed in 1438. As he was returning to his native town of Kostroma, he stopped for a few days on a high point over the Volga River and observed the natural beauty of the lands in his view. Later, remembering this, he included in his will the desire to establish a monastery there.
The Schema-monk Isaiah, who was a monk of the Monastery of St. Makary of Zheltiye Vody on the shore of the Unzka River, brought St. Makary’s will to life in the middle of the seventeenth century by building a small hermitage as the saint directed. Isaiah brought with him from Unzha an icon of St Makary of Zheltiye Vody. Additionally, the Vatopedi Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos was received from Mount Athos. These icons became the main shrines of the hermitage. Isaiah fell a sleep in the Lord on December 10. 1667.
By 1691, a two story stone church was built at the hermitage. The upper floor was dedicated to the Ascension of the Lord and the lower floor to the Vatopedi Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos and that of St Makary of Zheltiye Vody. The hermitage continued as a small monastery. In 1764, it was attached to the Dormition Monastery of Sviyazhsk and closed. In 1798, Emperor Paul I noticed the beauty of the countryside around the closed hermitage when he was traveling by ship to Kazan. Following receipt of a petition from Archbishop Amvrosy of Kazan for rehabilitation of the monastery, Emperor Paul I issued a decree for its restoration.
Lacking ownership of any forests and arable lands that could be used for earning an income, the hermitage remained small and was not known outside of Kazan province. Nevertheless, through donations and support from other monasteries and people of Sviyazhsk, many stone based buildings were built at the hermitage during the nineteenth century. As many distinguished dwellers of the town of Sviyazhsk from the sixteenth century were buried in the cemetery of the hermitage, it was an often visited place. In 1830 and 1947, two semi-stone residence building were built. In 1866, the Church of the Icon of the Mother of God “The Joy of All Who Sorrow” was completed, followed by a two stored residence for the prior and another monastic residence building by 1889.
After being plundered by soldiers of the Red Army in September 1918, the hermitage was left in isolation. By the later 1920s, continued isolation and without lands that could be used to support the hermitage, it was abandoned by the monks. Thus, the hermitage escaped forced closure and expelling of the brethren. Due to the isolation of the hermitage from inhabited areas, its buildings remained largely intact through the Soviet era, including the chapel built over the spring where St. Makary of Uzhna, by legend, had stopped. In 1997, the hermitage complex was returned to the Diocese of Kazan.