Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the Konevsky Nativity of the Theotokos Monastery on Lake Ladoga’s Konevets Island.
Igor Sechin: Kazan's Mother of God is the central icon.
Putin: Let's go inside?
Igor Sechin: Of course.
VESTI: Good news gradually turns into ringing, inviting worshipers to the service. Konevets opens his famous view from Ladoga. Blue domes are history itself, they are over 600 years old. But in such reconstructed form, the Nativity of the Mother of God Monastery appears for the first time in a hundred years.
Putin: Very beautiful!
VESTI: Here, deep inside the island, on a hill, there is the Kazan Skete - chamber-like and like a fairy tale.
Igor Sechin: Like a sky with stars.
Putin: Very beautiful.
VESTI: The temple and six monks' cells were erected in two years. Now it is the oldest building on Konevets - the end of the 18th century. But before the restoration, the picture was completely deplorable - so for the temple not to collapse, the walls had to be propped up.
Putin: It just fell over.
Igor Sechin: Yes, correct (support) with logs.
VESTI: The Rosneft company took over the restoration of the monastery as part of its charitable activities. The island was becoming different before our eyes. A cable was stretched along the bottom of Ladoga, and Konevets received electricity. Prayer services in the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos are extraordinarily beautiful. Now - a completely different look. The restoration on Konevets was very much awaited, it was necessary, although there was little hope for restoration.
Archimandrite Alexander: It was supposed to be the 625th anniversary of the monastery, and we thought who would help us. So we decided to write a letter to the president with an appeal for help, collected signatures. We didn't even have time to send the letter, and he unexpectedly arrived.
VESTI: The President of Russia ended up on the island 5 years ago - on his trip to Ladoga, he noticed the domes and just came straight to the church service. They didn't even recognize him right away.
Choir Regent Maksim: Once we were standing at the service, and one person said: look to the right. I turned my head: Look, Putin! I smiled. I thought that it is some pilgrim who looks like Putin since he was not dressed officially in a suit but in ordinary clothes. For a long time, I couldn't believe that it is him, but afterward, it was clear that it was actually the president.
Igor Sechin: The communists came and monks were forced to leave somewhere else...
VESTI: In the 20th century, when the territory belonged to the military, both the lower and upper temples had warehouses, a red room, and a club. Only one frame remained from the iconostasis. And this space, so airy today, looked very different.
Restaurator Yekaterina Grubina: We see painting in a drum, alfrey painting, grisal technique. It was large-scale work that was done by a huge team of painters.
VESTI: The monks themselves tried to fix the frescoes many times, and in the 20th century they were completely lost. But here they are, in the same manner - naive academicism. On the iconostasis, there is a mandatory icon of Arseny Konevsky in the monastery. The founder of the monastery, a priest, decided to become a hermit, and received a blessing on Athos.
The Museum's Director: This icon was brought by the Monk Arseny from Athos. Now it is called the Konevskaya icon of the Mother of God.
VESTI: That was a miracle. Arseny left Novgorod by boat and stopped rowing in Ladoga. The currents carried him to the island, which he did not like. He sailed away, but the wind brought him back. Swam away again - and again the wind intervened. Then he understood: this is God's providence.
The main shrine of the monastery is the relics of Arseny Konevsky. Monks hid them from the Swedes in the Middle Ages under the floor, in a crypt. They were discovered only 30 years ago. The remains are in golden threads. The expert analysis showed that this was a man who died in the 16th century and who spent his whole life in a kneeling position - in prayers.
The second shrine - the Konevskaya icon of the Mother of God - is miraculous. And the fantastic work done by the restorers on Konevets also seems to be a real miracle. The President pays attention to both shrines.
Putin: Shall we put on a candle?
VESTI: The President also inspects the Konevsky skete.
Putin: Shall we put on a candle?
VESTI: Inside there is a gilded and light iconostasis with a painting that absolutely accurately imitates such a complex stone as malachite. It was recreated from pale photographs and descriptions, and now it is a masterpiece of architecture.
Putin: It is fantastic!
VESTI: Moving around the island again - along Ladoga and deep into the forest. The northern nature makes the island extremely attractive for tourists. Development plans Vladimir Putin and Igor Sechin have already discussed - back in 2017 at the next joint planning meeting. The revival of the monasteries also meant a new modern infrastructure. The Konevets embankment is now ready to receive boats, catamarans, cruise ships from the mainland.
Putin: On the other side?
Igor Sechin: There is a big hotel there.
Hotel Director: These are our rooms. Modern design.
VESTI: A hotel with 146 rooms in a Scandinavian style, wooden houses, camping for 10 cars - tourists are waiting. Every day, several times a day, the catamaran delivers pilgrims and travelers to the island. Konevets receives thousands of tourists but is still modest. It can be better.
Bishop of Vyborg and Priozersky Ignatius: The heart of every person rejoices when we see a miracle. And all those pilgrims who come, who probably were never on the island, seeing all this splendor, admire the size of our fatherland.
VESTI: The Golden Gate between the Leningrad Region and Karelia: The Konevetsky Monastery now looks as magnificent as it never looked. The monks call it the third Easter: a real big holiday on the island.
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