Museum of the History of the Diveyevo Monastery in the 20th century
Museum of the History of the Diveyevo Monastery in the 20th century
The expulsion of nuns from their monastery, their wanderings and hardships in the secular world, the oppression of the monastery's clergy, jails, exiles, concentration camps that condemned the persecuted to agonizing sufferings and death: these are the main characteristics of the life of the Diveyevo nuns and clergy during the post-revolutionary years. Under the onerous burden of trials and troubles of their lives, they stayed faithful to Christ and attained holiness while enduring the sufferings. A new museum exhibit about them is currently on view in an old building. The exhibit depicts the plight of the many nuns and blessed elders of Diveyevo, many of whom have been glorified as new martyrs and confessors of the Russian Church and have been added to the glorious Synaxis of Diveyevo saints.
The expulsion of nuns from their monastery, their wanderings and hardships in the secular world, the oppression of the monastery's clergy, jails, exiles, concentration camps that condemned the persecuted to agonizing sufferings and death: these are the main characteristics of the life of the Diveyevo nuns and clergy during the post-revolutionary years. Under the onerous burden of trials and troubles of their lives, they stayed faithful to Christ and attained holiness while enduring the sufferings. A new museum exhibit about them is currently on view in an old building. The exhibit depicts the plight of the many nuns and blessed elders of Diveyevo, many of whom have been glorified as new martyrs and confessors of the Russian Church and have been added to the glorious Synaxis of Diveyevo saints.
The creation of the museum, which is dedicated to the history of the Diveyevo monastery in the 20th century, began in 2014 with the blessing of Hegumenia Sergiya. The museum grew from a small exhibition hall located in the former Hegumenia's quarters. The nuns on obedience to do museum work have been collecting the museum pieces over the course of 15 years. The collection includes holy items and documentation relating to clergy and monastics as well as archival data.
The creation of the museum, which is dedicated to the history of the Diveyevo monastery in the 20th century, began in 2014 with the blessing of Hegumenia Sergiya. The museum grew from a small exhibition hall located in the former Hegumenia's quarters. The nuns on obedience to do museum work have been collecting the museum pieces over the course of 15 years. The collection includes holy items and documentation relating to clergy and monastics as well as archival data.
Entrance to the exhibition space
Entrance to the exhibition space
Visitors to the museum start their exhibition tour with the story of the Gusev family that brought up the future hyeromartyrs, brothers Michael and Jacob. Their father, Protopresbyter John Theophanovich Gusev, was a senior priest of the Seraphim-Diveyevo Monastery and his sons' first mentor: he taught the Law of God and other subjects at the parochial church school. He was deeply dedicated to the Church and the monarchy and known for his great spiritual power and physical vigor.

He was unfailingly respected and revered by his sons who were both raised as steadfast Christians. Both sons became priests, despite the fact that Michael, the youngest, first pursued his dream of becoming a doctor and even completed a year of medical studies at the Imperial University in Warsaw. However, his father blessed him to become a priest and Michael, in obedience, followed in the footsteps of his older brother Jacob and completed his studies at the Nizhny Novgorod Seminary. The brothers were known for their good-naturedness and modesty, love of God and neighbor, and had high regard for their priestly ministry. Ultimately, they sacrificed their lives, unwilling to renounce their vocation or admit to any of the wrongful accusations pressed upon them.

The exhibit offers insight into another family where the grace of priesthood was also passed from father to sons. Father Peter Sokolov was that same priest who, in 1903, per request from a visiting Emperor Nicholas II, served a fast-paced Liturgy in just an hour but with all due reverence. For that service, the Tsar presented Father Peter with a golden pectoral cross. The Sokolovs lived up to that imperial benevolence by their piety and devotion, having raised three priests. Love, mutual support and empathy were developed in their children by their father and mother. Matushka Apollinaria, Father Peter's wife, despite being married and having seven kids, was a woman of fervent prayer and blessed with the gift of unceasing Jesus prayer. These familial gifts served the Diveyevo sisters well. The youngest son, priest Alexander Sokolov, served in the village of Vyezdnoye near Arzamas and assisted many nuns in exile both spiritually and materially. He carefully preserved several items that belonged to Venerable Seraphim of Sarov and other holy objects from Diveyevo.
Visitors to the museum start their exhibition tour with the story of the Gusev family that brought up the future hyeromartyrs, brothers Michael and Jacob. Their father, Protopresbyter John Theophanovich Gusev, was a senior priest of the Seraphim-Diveyevo Monastery and his sons' first mentor: he taught the Law of God and other subjects at the parochial church school. He was deeply dedicated to the Church and the monarchy and known for his great spiritual power and physical vigor.

He was unfailingly respected and revered by his sons who were both raised as steadfast Christians. Both sons became priests, despite the fact that Michael, the youngest, first pursued his dream of becoming a doctor and even completed a year of medical studies at the Imperial University in Warsaw. However, his father blessed him to become a priest and Michael, in obedience, followed in the footsteps of his older brother Jacob and completed his studies at the Nizhny Novgorod Seminary. The brothers were known for their good-naturedness and modesty, love of God and neighbor, and had high regard for their priestly ministry. Ultimately, they sacrificed their lives, unwilling to renounce their vocation or admit to any of the wrongful accusations pressed upon them.

The exhibit offers insight into another family where the grace of priesthood was also passed from father to sons. Father Peter Sokolov was that same priest who, in 1903, per request from a visiting Emperor Nicholas II, served a fast-paced Liturgy in just an hour but with all due reverence. For that service, the Tsar presented Father Peter with a golden pectoral cross. The Sokolovs lived up to that imperial benevolence by their piety and devotion, having raised three priests. Love, mutual support and empathy were developed in their children by their father and mother. Matushka Apollinaria, Father Peter's wife, despite being married and having seven kids, was a woman of fervent prayer and blessed with the gift of unceasing Jesus prayer. These familial gifts served the Diveyevo sisters well. The youngest son, priest Alexander Sokolov, served in the village of Vyezdnoye near Arzamas and assisted many nuns in exile both spiritually and materially. He carefully preserved several items that belonged to Venerable Seraphim of Sarov and other holy objects from Diveyevo.
Exhibits dedicated to Diveyevo clergy
Exhibits dedicated to Diveyevo clergy
The largest and the most detailed part of the exhibition describes the life of the Holy Hieromartyr Seraphim (Chichagov), author of "Chronicle of the Seraphim-Diveyevo Monastery." The narrated life story of Metropolitan Seraphim offers deeper insight into a personality abundantly gifted with the talents of a military career man, writer, theologian, physician, composer, and an icon painter.

Visitors are able to view the recreated interior of the living room at his dacha near Moscow, where His Grace Seraphim lived during his last years. Lovingly restored, its interior includes many features of the day: a round dining table with a samovar on top and a dim kerosene lamp hanging above, elegant antique furniture, lots of old leather-bound books and black-and-white photos on the walls. An old parlor organ draws visitors' attention: it is the one His Grace played on and used to compose his "Music Diary." According to his granddaughter, a future Hegumenia Seraphima (Chernaya) of Moscow's Novodevichy Monastery, the evenings in their house were filled with wonderful music as her grandfather played the organ. Per her account, "his soul would open up" during these moments. A large icon of Christ the Savior is another memorable exhibit item: it is an excellent copy of the icon produced by the talented hand of Metropolitan Seraphim. The surroundings of his room take the viewer back to the 1930s, conveying the feel and the flavor of Russia's bygone era, the unhurried, prayerful mode of the hierarch's life unbroken by the vagaries of revolutionary times.

The most significant milestones of the hierarch Seraphim's life: foretelling of a priestly rank for the illustrious Colonel of the Guards Chichagov, his decision to bury his wife at the Diveyevo monastery, the "Chronicle's" authorship, a miraculous vision of Venerable Seraphim, preparations for and organization of the celebrations in Sarov. All these milestones were inseparably connected with the Seraphim-Diveyevo monastery, the place he treated with love and reverence. His love and connection to Diveyevo remained there forever. As he was glorified among the new martyrs and confessors of Russia, Metropolitan Seraphim also entered into the blessed Synaxis of saints who shone forth in Diveyevo.
The largest and the most detailed part of the exhibition describes the life of the Holy Hieromartyr Seraphim (Chichagov), author of "Chronicle of the Seraphim-Diveyevo Monastery." The narrated life story of Metropolitan Seraphim offers deeper insight into a personality abundantly gifted with the talents of a military career man, writer, theologian, physician, composer, and an icon painter.

Visitors are able to view the recreated interior of the living room at his dacha near Moscow, where His Grace Seraphim lived during his last years. Lovingly restored, its interior includes many features of the day: a round dining table with a samovar on top and a dim kerosene lamp hanging above, elegant antique furniture, lots of old leather-bound books and black-and-white photos on the walls. An old parlor organ draws visitors' attention: it is the one His Grace played on and used to compose his "Music Diary." According to his granddaughter, a future Hegumenia Seraphima (Chernaya) of Moscow's Novodevichy Monastery, the evenings in their house were filled with wonderful music as her grandfather played the organ. Per her account, "his soul would open up" during these moments. A large icon of Christ the Savior is another memorable exhibit item: it is an excellent copy of the icon produced by the talented hand of Metropolitan Seraphim. The surroundings of his room take the viewer back to the 1930s, conveying the feel and the flavor of Russia's bygone era, the unhurried, prayerful mode of the hierarch's life unbroken by the vagaries of revolutionary times.

The most significant milestones of the hierarch Seraphim's life: foretelling of a priestly rank for the illustrious Colonel of the Guards Chichagov, his decision to bury his wife at the Diveyevo monastery, the "Chronicle's" authorship, a miraculous vision of Venerable Seraphim, preparations for and organization of the celebrations in Sarov. All these milestones were inseparably connected with the Seraphim-Diveyevo monastery, the place he treated with love and reverence. His love and connection to Diveyevo remained there forever. As he was glorified among the new martyrs and confessors of Russia, Metropolitan Seraphim also entered into the blessed Synaxis of saints who shone forth in Diveyevo.
Recreated room of Hieromartyr Seraphim (Chichagov) in Udelnoye
Recreated room of Hieromartyr Seraphim (Chichagov) in Udelnoye
Another exhibit is dedicated to the holy Diveyevo nuns: Venerable martyrs, Testov sisters Pelagia and Martha, and Venerable confessor Matrona (Vlasova). According to one of the modern-day Greek priests, Protopresbyter Theodosius Martzukos, protosingel of the Metropolis of Nikopolis and Preveza, "holiness is an utmost acceptance of the will of God during all stages of one's life and at any given fleeting moment." Precise and thorough adherence to the dispensation of the Lord; acceptance, as if from Christ's hands, of any, even the most grievous, of circumstances; patient endurance of all hardships for the sake of the Lord, rewarded with virtues of meekness and humility: all these treasures of the Christian spirit were revealed in the lives of the Diveyevo's new martyrs and confessors.

The sisters served long terms at the concentration camps. Nun Matrona spent as much as 17 years, whereas Pelagia and Martha died while at the camps. However, their camp orderlies left positive personal characteristics in their personal records: "Performs quality work, submits daily work quota." It was so regardless of their serious ailments and unbearably hard living conditions. The strict monastic schooling received in Diveyevo left an indelible effect: they always treated their obediences with due diligence and believed it was improper to abandon them. The museum exhibit showcases the nuns' holy objects, personal possessions, monastic clothing and shoes. Among the items on display is a well-preserved coat that belonged to the Venerable Confessor Matrona, her handiwork, as well as a pair of booties lovingly handmade by the Diveyevo craftswomen.

The blessed women, the fools-for-Christ of Diveyevo, shared with the nuns the heavy cross of expulsion from their beloved monastery. Nonetheless, despite being cast in the life of the world, they never ceased offering spiritual guidance to nuns and laity alike. Holy blessed Paraskevi of Diveyevo (Pasha of Sarov), who foretold in 1903 the upcoming tragedy to the Imperial Family, never lived to see the closing of her monastery. At the same time, the blessed elder used to yell oddly and obscurely at nuns who approached or entered her small house: "Away, rogues! This is the bank's front office!" After the monastery's closing, Pasha's house, once visited by thousands of people from all file and rank, future saints amongst them, was indeed turned into a savings bank for many long years. The current museum displays the signs from Soviet times that were discovered in the house's attic when the monastery re-opened: "A penny saved is a penny earned" and other posters characteristic of the times.

The museum showcases the personal items and photos of the Diveyevo's blessed women, Maria (Fedina) and Anna (Bobkova). The visitors have the opportunity to view the blessed Maria Ivanovna's interrogation file along with a handwritten note added at the bottom of the file by an investigation officer: "Judging by her appearance and facial features, she is just a mad and eccentric nun. She cannot add anything else to what is said above, wherein she signs by applying her thumbprint."
Another exhibit is dedicated to the holy Diveyevo nuns: Venerable martyrs, Testov sisters Pelagia and Martha, and Venerable confessor Matrona (Vlasova). According to one of the modern-day Greek priests, Protopresbyter Theodosius Martzukos, protosingel of the Metropolis of Nikopolis and Preveza, "holiness is an utmost acceptance of the will of God during all stages of one's life and at any given fleeting moment." Precise and thorough adherence to the dispensation of the Lord; acceptance, as if from Christ's hands, of any, even the most grievous, of circumstances; patient endurance of all hardships for the sake of the Lord, rewarded with virtues of meekness and humility: all these treasures of the Christian spirit were revealed in the lives of the Diveyevo's new martyrs and confessors.

The sisters served long terms at the concentration camps. Nun Matrona spent as much as 17 years, whereas Pelagia and Martha died while at the camps. However, their camp orderlies left positive personal characteristics in their personal records: "Performs quality work, submits daily work quota." It was so regardless of their serious ailments and unbearably hard living conditions. The strict monastic schooling received in Diveyevo left an indelible effect: they always treated their obediences with due diligence and believed it was improper to abandon them. The museum exhibit showcases the nuns' holy objects, personal possessions, monastic clothing and shoes. Among the items on display is a well-preserved coat that belonged to the Venerable Confessor Matrona, her handiwork, as well as a pair of booties lovingly handmade by the Diveyevo craftswomen.

The blessed women, the fools-for-Christ of Diveyevo, shared with the nuns the heavy cross of expulsion from their beloved monastery. Nonetheless, despite being cast in the life of the world, they never ceased offering spiritual guidance to nuns and laity alike. Holy blessed Paraskevi of Diveyevo (Pasha of Sarov), who foretold in 1903 the upcoming tragedy to the Imperial Family, never lived to see the closing of her monastery. At the same time, the blessed elder used to yell oddly and obscurely at nuns who approached or entered her small house: "Away, rogues! This is the bank's front office!" After the monastery's closing, Pasha's house, once visited by thousands of people from all file and rank, future saints amongst them, was indeed turned into a savings bank for many long years. The current museum displays the signs from Soviet times that were discovered in the house's attic when the monastery re-opened: "A penny saved is a penny earned" and other posters characteristic of the times.

The museum showcases the personal items and photos of the Diveyevo's blessed women, Maria (Fedina) and Anna (Bobkova). The visitors have the opportunity to view the blessed Maria Ivanovna's interrogation file along with a handwritten note added at the bottom of the file by an investigation officer: "Judging by her appearance and facial features, she is just a mad and eccentric nun. She cannot add anything else to what is said above, wherein she signs by applying her thumbprint."
Personal possessions of Diveyevo's sisters and blessed women
Personal possessions of Diveyevo's sisters and blessed women
On a par with all other former monastery residents, their Hegumenia Alexandra (Trakovskaya) equally bore the burden of the innumerable sufferings of the post-revolutionary years. Matushka managed to recover and preserve the greater part of the Venerable Seraphim of Sarov's personal possessions and many other relics from the Seraphim-Diveyevo Monastery.

The exhibition focusing on the years Hegumenia Alexandra and sisters spent in the Murom exile is located in additional rooms. The narration about Hegumenia Alexandra concludes the tour. It shares the story of her whole life, which she spent serving God and neighbor. Following in Hegumenia Maria's footsteps, matushka Alexandra has led the monastery to the heights of spiritual perfection; increased the monastery's wealth; built a "new" church, now known as Transfiguration cathedral; and opened the metochions at the major cities. Hegumenia Alexandra's high spiritual qualities, her amazing talents, tireless efforts and ceaseless labors improved life at the monastery. As a result of her work, Diveyevo was at its prime in 1917 and able to survive for the next ten years as a co-op association.

As she left her beloved monastery and became head of a small nun community in Murom in 1927, matushka Hegumenia held steadfast to the monastic order of life. The dreadful years of militant atheism had not induced her to depart from it. With every new day, she and the sisters prepared themselves to be arrested or to meet their martyrous death. Hegumenia Alexandra died in 1942 and was buried in Murom. It was God's will that she return to her beloved Diveyevo, even if after death. In 2002, sixty years after her death, Hegumenia Alexandra's remains were reinterred behind the altar of the Trinity Cathedral next to the grave of Hegumenia Maria, just as she always wished.

A unique, spiritually rich atmosphere envelops visitors entering the museum's replica of Hegumenia Alexandra's cell. Many of her personal items have been preserved there, including a large Psalter book in a blue binding the Hegumenia used to read daily. Once opened, its nearly perfect and undamaged condition, with its clean, spotless pages, impresses everyone. Here the upbringing is clearly evident: children from noble families were taught from a young age to be especially careful around books and to wash their hands before reading. The delicate antique furniture that once belonged to Hegumenia Alexandra, her chest of drawers and the sofa, was carted away from the desolated monastery by the residents of Arzamas. Nowadays, these objects at the monastery's museum have become its spiritual wealth, since they once belonged to a great woman of faith who remained loyal to the Lord throughout the fiery trials of the godless times.
On a par with all other former monastery residents, their Hegumenia Alexandra (Trakovskaya) equally bore the burden of the innumerable sufferings of the post-revolutionary years. Matushka managed to recover and preserve the greater part of the Venerable Seraphim of Sarov's personal possessions and many other relics from the Seraphim-Diveyevo Monastery.

The exhibition focusing on the years Hegumenia Alexandra and sisters spent in the Murom exile is located in additional rooms. The narration about Hegumenia Alexandra concludes the tour. It shares the story of her whole life, which she spent serving God and neighbor. Following in Hegumenia Maria's footsteps, matushka Alexandra has led the monastery to the heights of spiritual perfection; increased the monastery's wealth; built a "new" church, now known as Transfiguration cathedral; and opened the metochions at the major cities. Hegumenia Alexandra's high spiritual qualities, her amazing talents, tireless efforts and ceaseless labors improved life at the monastery. As a result of her work, Diveyevo was at its prime in 1917 and able to survive for the next ten years as a co-op association.

As she left her beloved monastery and became head of a small nun community in Murom in 1927, matushka Hegumenia held steadfast to the monastic order of life. The dreadful years of militant atheism had not induced her to depart from it. With every new day, she and the sisters prepared themselves to be arrested or to meet their martyrous death. Hegumenia Alexandra died in 1942 and was buried in Murom. It was God's will that she return to her beloved Diveyevo, even if after death. In 2002, sixty years after her death, Hegumenia Alexandra's remains were reinterred behind the altar of the Trinity Cathedral next to the grave of Hegumenia Maria, just as she always wished.

A unique, spiritually rich atmosphere envelops visitors entering the museum's replica of Hegumenia Alexandra's cell. Many of her personal items have been preserved there, including a large Psalter book in a blue binding the Hegumenia used to read daily. Once opened, its nearly perfect and undamaged condition, with its clean, spotless pages, impresses everyone. Here the upbringing is clearly evident: children from noble families were taught from a young age to be especially careful around books and to wash their hands before reading. The delicate antique furniture that once belonged to Hegumenia Alexandra, her chest of drawers and the sofa, was carted away from the desolated monastery by the residents of Arzamas. Nowadays, these objects at the monastery's museum have become its spiritual wealth, since they once belonged to a great woman of faith who remained loyal to the Lord throughout the fiery trials of the godless times.
Recreated rooms of Hegumenia Alexandra (Trakovskaya) and Diveyevo nuns from the Murom's period in their lives
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