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Valaam Monastery

The Valaam Monastery, or Valamo Monastery was founded on Valaam, the largest island in Lake Ladoga, in the 10th century as a western outpost against the heathen. Since the Great Schism in 1054 between East-Rome and West-Rome the monastery has belonged to the Eastern Orhodoxy. After the establishment, some centuries later, of Catholic Christianity in the neighbourhood it marked the northern outpost against Catholicism.

The struggle of power between Russians the Swedes pushed the border eastwards in the 16th century: In 1578 monks and novices were killed beaten by the Lutheran Swedes. The monastry was desolated between 1611 and 1715 after another attack, the buildings being burnt to the ground, and the Karelian border between Russia and Sweden being drawn through the Lake.

In the 18th century the monastery was magnificently restored and in 1812 it came under the Russian Grand Duchy of Finland. In 1917 Finland became independent, and the Finnish Orthodox Church became autonomous under the Orthodox Church of Constantinople, as previously it was a part of the Russian Orthodox Church. Valaam was the most important monastery of the Finnish Orthodox Church. The liturgic language was changed from Church Slavonic to Finnish, and the litrugic calendar from Julian to Gregorian calendar. These changes led to bitter decade-long disputes in the monastic community of Valaam.

The Winter War (during the Second World War) led to the evacuation of the monastery in 1940, but it was able to resume its normal life at its present site in Heinävesi (New Valaam) in Finland later the same year. 1941-1944 an attempt was made to restore the buildings during the Continuation War.

In 1989 Monks' life on the Old Valaam was resumed.

See also: Old Finland, Kexholm County

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