Seraphim Danckaert is Director of Mission Advancement at St. Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary. He holds an M.Div. from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology and is a Ph.D. candidate in theology at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.
Located on the shores of Lake Lagoda, the largest lake in Europe, Valaam Monastery is a place of stunning natural beauty. It’s also one of the most famous centers of spiritual retreat and monastic life in Russia.
Among its various unique traditions is the practice of photography. For generations, there have been “monk-photographers,” capturing images of life on the island. Here’s the story:
In the 1850s the Valaam Monastery established its own photo-studio due to the Saint Petersburg philanthropists’ donations. The skillful and gifted monks-photographers took pictures of the Valaam views, the churches, the sketes, the monastic life, the monastery obedience work, the pilgrims’ and guests’ of honour visits. The photographs, taken by the Valaam Monastery photographers, scattered all over the world during 150 years: they can be found in the state archives, museums, national libraries in many countries. And in those photographs it is written “Done by the Valaam monks” – as the humble monks never put their signatures either in the icons or other various works of arts made in the monastery workshops. In many family albums there are still kept the photographs of the Valaam views; pilgrims bought them as mementos of their visit of the Wonderful Valaam.
Now, thanks to the power of the internet, many of these historic works of arts are available for viewing. Check on the monastery’s online collection here, and let us know what you think.
Photo credit: “Northern Athos” by Hieromonk Savvaty (Sevostyanov), Valaam Monastery
Posted by the Orthodox Christian Network. You can find the Orthodox Christian Network on Google+.