Valaam is the largest island of the archipelago Valaam in the northern part of Lake Ladoga.
The isle known as a place with a magic nature. People come to Valaam for different reasons. Some of them come here as tourists that want to see the enchanting world of the nature.
They start to understand as insignificantly and petty what we do in an ordinary life in comparison with this wonderful world that influences for us in the form of solar beams which make the way through crones of the trees, the dews shining on a fresh grass as placer of diamonds, bees are flying for nectar.
Therefore it is no wonder, that in a such place where nothing distracts people from contemplation of the protogenic nature located Valaam Monastery.
Emperor Alexander I and Alexander II and their relatives had visited the island. According the legend the monastery has been based in 960 year by monks Sergius and Herman. Some of the people come here as pilgrims to bow to sacred places and to help to restore constructions and facilities of a monastery. They want to get the spiritual help and support of monastic confessors, to pray in various monasteries.
The other people come as volunteers to help the monastery, to find new friends, to get acquainted with Orthodox culture and history of Valaam and, probably, to open something new in itself. A pilgrim service of a monastery provides a wide choice of various programs of visiting of Valaam for tourists and pilgrims.
Fragment from Marina Lapteva's history.She was a volunteer.(2006).
Belltower of Saviour- Transfiguration Cathedral is raised on a high rock of island Valaam. The lantern is lit on it every evening as a beacon illuminating a way of the ships. Steam-ships with pilgrims and tourists from Petersburg, Priozersk and Sortavala arrive to this place every day. Someone goes to Valaam behind new impressions, and for someone contact with a monastic life becomes the present revelation.
It any more a dream. We are on Valaam. We live on the second floor in the former imperial room. Monarchs Alexander I and Alexander II stayed here previously. Alexander I came here in 1819 as a simple pilgrim (His visit differed modesty ). Alexander II was here in 1858 together with his wife the Great Princess Maria Aleksandrovna.
We drink tea in a common room all together in the evenings at the great table. We are listening to the songs of Choristers of The Church of Peter and Paul that located near of us. The sounds of the bell have woken us early in the morning. What's the time? The leader of our group Masha says us- "Seven hours, get up!" - and she quickly escapes. We have breakfast in the canteen that called "Trapeznaya" before work on a farm.
The car to a farm will be in half an hour. We are in a hurry. We drive along a wide road to a farm where we carry out our obedience (any work at a monastery called the obedience) under control of Priest George. Once I was late. Our car has left, and I went on foot up to a farm. I went quickly on a road. Someone sharply braked near me. The forward door opened. The monk sitting in the car reproachfully asked me- " Have you been late? ". I sat down in the car and I looked at icons on a windshield, these were the icons of Saint Sergius and Herman, Christ’s Mother, Saint Nicolas. They are the helpers to travellers and seamen. When we had got to a farm, the monk said me in a kind way " Lord help you ".I answered "Thanks".
Girls work in the canteen. They clean potatoes, they cook salads. They clean fields from weeds. They collect apples.
Men’s work is heavier. They collect stones for building a platform for a farm. They collect the hay. Those who does not work on a farm helps to build roads.
Cats live on the farm. Some of them affectionate, playful. They sleep on our arms. Others shun, afraid of people, and they catch mice. The special meal was not prepared for them during a post, and they eat the same meal. Such as macaroni, a porridge.
The people started sneezing. Someone has brought a virus from continent. All of us have caught a cold. " To be ill a little– well ", - the monk argues.
We ask him " Whether well it is? ".
" When you are ill – you do not think about sins ". Once in the morning we hear sounds of a flute from the forest. Some time we have been listening to them. " As in a fairy tale … " Masha says. " It is the lay brother plays every morning.", - says Kostya, the teacher of the English who has arrived with us. A magic melody affects us. Now all of us wish to play the flute. We have no flute. Our cook Michael made a tiny flute from the stalk for us. But we can't play the flute and we hear a hissing instead of a beautiful melody.
Now I am sitting on the rocks near Nikolsky Monastery, observing for sunset. I write down to my diary. Already coldly, the sun sits down, clouds darken, Ladoga is splashing on stones, the big white seagull slowly flies …" Every year more than 2000 volunteers is going to Valaam. There is a turn to get there. You have to prepare for the trip in advance.
Sources: volonter.valaam.ru, vp.valaam.ru
Location on the map
Republic of Karelia, Сортавальский район, Сортавальское городское поселение, Главная монастырская дорога