Tradition has it that the original Monastery of Valamo was founded in the 12th century or no later than the 14th century. New Valamo or New Valaam is an Orthodox monastery in Heinävesi. The monastery was established in 1940, when some 190 monks from Valamo Monastery in Karelia were evacuated from their old abode on a group of islands in Lake Laatokka (Ladoga) to Eastern Finland. The old Valamo Monastery was quite soon after the outbreak of the Winter War occupied by the armed forces of the Soviet Union.

After a temporary dwelling place the monks decided to settle down in Heinävesi in Eastern Finland. The choice fell on a mansion in Papinniemi, Heinävesi, after the monks had found there, quite surprisingly, an icon of St. Sergius and St. Herman, the founders of Valaam (Valamo) monastery in the 12th century. The monks considered this to be a sign from God. Having received evacuees from the Konevsky (Konevitsa) and Pechenga (Petsamo) monasteries, it is now the only monastery for men of the Finnish Orthodox Church.

There is a museum in Valamo monastery exhibiting the life in Orthodox monasteries from 18th century to present. The exhibition also shows the rebuilding of the monastery in Heinävesi, its ecclesiastical and social relationships and its publishing activities. The liturgical items reveal the high level of technical and artistic expertise that the Russian craft and design industry had achieved.

Only some of the monastery’s treasures are on display. These artefacts are mainly from the 19th century, although some are even from the 17th and 18th centuries. Similar objects are usually not seen, even in church, as the communion objects, the benediction crosses and the ecclesiastical textiles are stored in the sanctuary and the storage areas. The old artefacts are still in use, even though most of them are rarely used.

The cultural centre also hosts special collections on a temporary basis. The Monastery of Valamo has its own restaurant, accommodation and diverse tourist services.

References: Wikipedia, Museums of Southern Savo

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Founded: 1940
Category: Religious sites in Finland
Historical period: Independency (Finland)

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