The Bell Tower
The Bell Tower
I must tell you: the time will come when our monastery will have everything arranged, and what a cathedral will be there! What a bell-tower!

Venerable Seraphim of Sarov

I must tell you: the time will come when our monastery will have everything arranged, and what a cathedral will be there! What a bell-tower!

Venerable Seraphim of Sarov
Seraphim-Diveyevo monastery at the beginning of the 20th century. View from the River Vichkinza
Seraphim-Diveyevo monastery at the beginning of the 20th century. View from the River Vichkinza
Alexander Konstantinovich Nikitin graduated from the engineering college of the Central Railroad Administration and came to Nizhny Novgorod in 1882 to take a position of a junior city architect. Beginning from 1890, he worked as a Diocesan Architect, the first appointee to a newly created position. In the 1890s, Nikitin was involved in the citywide planning reforms and urban development projects leading up to the opening of an All-Russia Industrial, Trade and Art Exhibition. As a Diocesan Architect, he worked tirelessly creating, rebuilding and renovating the church buildings within the diocese. The church buildings erected according to A.K. Nikitin's designs were notable for their characteristic silhouette, well thought out and, as a rule, rather laconic architectural design.
Before 1900, the Seraphim-Diveyevo Monastery had a belfry with bells located at the end of the Holy Kanavka next to the Tikhvin Church. The bell-tower's construction began in 1893 under Hegumenia Maria (Ushakova) and according to the design project by A.K. Nikitin, the Diocesan Architect.

When the bell-tower's construction was almost finished, it was discovered it had a tilt, which is noticeable even to this day. The construction was put on hold. In these adverse circumstances, Hegumenia Maria and the sisters set their hopes on Father Seraphim. Here is how Elena Ivanovna Motovilova recounted the events to the writer Sergey Nilus: "The news was announced to mother Hegumenia. 'Probably, this is what Father Seraphim needs,' was all our matushka told us. Next, a drop lead was hung in the middle of the bell-tower, with all of us left waiting for Father Seraphim's blessing of our next step. Even though we were told the bell-tower was likely to be demolished, we kept our faithful watch for some kind of command coming from father, to the glory of God and the monastery's benefit." The faith of the Diveyevo nuns was not put to shame. After careful consideration, the tilt was considered to be quite useful and the bell-tower was finished. A large clock placed on the top would strike at every hour: "Most Holy Theotokos, save us!" The northern and southern additions housed the monastery workshops.

Beginning with its groundbreaking ceremony on May 8, 1894, the construction of this magnificent bell-tower took eight years. On October 7/20 1901, after the Divine Liturgy and a prayer service at the Trinity Cathedral, its bells were raised and mounted with the blessing of His Eminence Nazariy (Kirillov), in the presence of all the sisters of the Seraphim-Diveyevo Monastery and residents from the nearby villages. Hegumen Micah, the legendary bell-ringer from the Trinity-Sergius Lavra, made a historical reconstruction of the Diveyevo bells: one bell weighing 500 pud (8 tons), one – 200 pud (3.2 tons), 2 bells 80 pud each (1.28 tons), and 7 or 8 chiming bells. The bell-tower had three levels of ringing. The largest of the bells, weighing 500 pud, was bestowed to the monastery by the Nizhny Novgorod's merchants Ivan and Mitrophan M. Rukavishnikov.

The largest bell was rung on Sundays and during feast days. A smaller 200-pud one was used during Polyeleos at Vigil services. The two 80-pud bells were jointly rung at weekdays to call the sisters for meals and to prayer rule, as well as during Great Lent before the Matins service at 5 am. The chiming bells were always used during the singing of "In Your Kingdom" with Typical Psalms: the bell-ringer used the right-hand knot of 2 bells and the remaining 5 or 6 under her left hand. When a veiled nun passed away, a 200-pud bell was rung once while two 8-pud ones were used to mark the passing of a Ryassophore nun.
Alexander Konstantinovich Nikitin graduated from the engineering college of the Central Railroad Administration and came to Nizhny Novgorod in 1882 to take a position of a junior city architect. Beginning from 1890, he worked as a Diocesan Architect, the first appointee to a newly created position. In the 1890s, Nikitin was involved in the citywide planning reforms and urban development projects leading up to the opening of an All-Russia Industrial, Trade and Art Exhibition. As a Diocesan Architect, he worked tirelessly creating, rebuilding and renovating the church buildings within the diocese. The church buildings erected according to A.K. Nikitin's designs were notable for their characteristic silhouette, well thought out and, as a rule, rather laconic architectural design.
Before 1900, the Seraphim-Diveyevo Monastery had a belfry with bells located at the end of the Holy Kanavka next to the Tikhvin Church. The bell-tower's construction began in 1893 under Hegumenia Maria (Ushakova) and according to the design project by A.K. Nikitin, the Diocesan Architect.

When the bell-tower's construction was almost finished, it was discovered it had a tilt, which is noticeable even to this day. The construction was put on hold. In these adverse circumstances, Hegumenia Maria and the sisters set their hopes on Father Seraphim. Here is how Elena Ivanovna Motovilova recounted the events to the writer Sergey Nilus: "The news was announced to mother Hegumenia. 'Probably, this is what Father Seraphim needs,' was all our matushka told us. Next, a drop lead was hung in the middle of the bell-tower, with all of us left waiting for Father Seraphim's blessing of our next step. Even though we were told the bell-tower was likely to be demolished, we kept our faithful watch for some kind of command coming from father, to the glory of God and the monastery's benefit." The faith of the Diveyevo nuns was not put to shame. After careful consideration, the tilt was considered to be quite useful and the bell-tower was finished. A large clock placed on the top would strike at every hour: "Most Holy Theotokos, save us!" The northern and southern additions housed the monastery workshops.

Beginning with its groundbreaking ceremony on May 8, 1894, the construction of this magnificent bell-tower took eight years. On October 7/20 1901, after the Divine Liturgy and a prayer service at the Trinity Cathedral, its bells were raised and mounted with the blessing of His Eminence Nazariy (Kirillov), in the presence of all the sisters of the Seraphim-Diveyevo Monastery and residents from the nearby villages. Hegumen Micah, the legendary bell-ringer from the Trinity-Sergius Lavra, made a historical reconstruction of the Diveyevo bells: one bell weighing 500 pud (8 tons), one – 200 pud (3.2 tons), 2 bells 80 pud each (1.28 tons), and 7 or 8 chiming bells. The bell-tower had three levels of ringing. The largest of the bells, weighing 500 pud, was bestowed to the monastery by the Nizhny Novgorod's merchants Ivan and Mitrophan M. Rukavishnikov.

The largest bell was rung on Sundays and during feast days. A smaller 200-pud one was used during Polyeleos at Vigil services. The two 80-pud bells were jointly rung at weekdays to call the sisters for meals and to prayer rule, as well as during Great Lent before the Matins service at 5 am. The chiming bells were always used during the singing of "In Your Kingdom" with Typical Psalms: the bell-ringer used the right-hand knot of 2 bells and the remaining 5 or 6 under her left hand. When a veiled nun passed away, a 200-pud bell was rung once while two 8-pud ones were used to mark the passing of a Ryassophore nun.

Seraphim-Diveyevo monastery at the beginning of the 20th century. Western view
Seraphim-Diveyevo monastery at the beginning of the 20th century. Western view
The bell-tower of the Seraphim-Diveyevo Monastery was probably A.K. Nikitin's best project. For its design, the architect used a tower-over-the-gates style that became widespread at the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century. It is a poignant example of the Late Classicism style manifested in exterior features, such as three-part façade partition with half-columns and three-quarter columns placed in every corner. The décor details highlight the precision and geometricity of its major forms. Every tier is finished with a profiled cornice. The second and top tiers have gables with round windows inside the tympan. Arched openings are topped with key blocks. The tower soars upward and its vertical shape is accentuated by the later addition of three-story side wings that were used as the sisters' residences.

V.V.Krasnov, O.V. Degteva. Forgotten name, set in stone./Nizhegorodskaya Starina, #31-32, 2012.

The bell-tower of the Seraphim-Diveyevo Monastery was probably A.K. Nikitin's best project. For its design, the architect used a tower-over-the-gates style that became widespread at the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century. It is a poignant example of the Late Classicism style manifested in exterior features, such as three-part façade partition with half-columns and three-quarter columns placed in every corner. The décor details highlight the precision and geometricity of its major forms. Every tier is finished with a profiled cornice. The second and top tiers have gables with round windows inside the tympan. Arched openings are topped with key blocks. The tower soars upward and its vertical shape is accentuated by the later addition of three-story side wings that were used as the sisters' residences.

V.V.Krasnov, O.V. Degteva. Forgotten name, set in stone./Nizhegorodskaya Starina, #31-32, 2012.

During Soviet times, the bell-tower tip, devoid of its dome and a cross, stationed a TV retransmitter, while the space inside its holy gates was turned into a garage. The gates were cleared in June of 1991 before the translation of Venerable Seraphim's relics to Diveyevo.
During Soviet times, the bell-tower tip, devoid of its dome and a cross, stationed a TV retransmitter, while the space inside its holy gates was turned into a garage. The gates were cleared in June of 1991 before the translation of Venerable Seraphim's relics to Diveyevo.
Bell-tower partially damaged during Soviet times
Bell-tower partially damaged during Soviet times
The bell-tower is made up of 5 tiers. On July 17 2003, the day of remembrance of the Holy Royal Passion-Bearers, a new dome and a cross was raised to the Diveyevo's bell-tower. Since 1901, the bell-tower has had its top replaced three times: on the cusp of the 19th and 20th centuries, at the end of the 20th century and at the beginning of the 21st century. In the latter case, its domes, drum and cross were made of steel; the domes and the cross were covered with gold leaf. Not just the domes but also the drum was altered and became octagonal in shape. The cross is identical to the cross at Trinity Cathedral's. Overall, the top has become much more elegant in appearance. The winning design was selected from among seventeen designs submitted. It took one hundred days to implement the project, which was carried out on the premises of the Moscow restoration art production company "The Domes of Russia," headed by Nikolai Nadezhdin, its General Director. The bell-tower has now grown three meters in height to a total of 78 meters. Its biggest bell weighs five tons. It was cast in 2003 in commemoration of the 100-year anniversary of Venerable Seraphim's glorification and placed on the bell-tower's first tier.
The bell-tower is made up of 5 tiers. On July 17 2003, the day of remembrance of the Holy Royal Passion-Bearers, a new dome and a cross was raised to the Diveyevo's bell-tower. Since 1901, the bell-tower has had its top replaced three times: on the cusp of the 19th and 20th centuries, at the end of the 20th century and at the beginning of the 21st century. In the latter case, its domes, drum and cross were made of steel; the domes and the cross were covered with gold leaf. Not just the domes but also the drum was altered and became octagonal in shape. The cross is identical to the cross at Trinity Cathedral's. Overall, the top has become much more elegant in appearance. The winning design was selected from among seventeen designs submitted. It took one hundred days to implement the project, which was carried out on the premises of the Moscow restoration art production company "The Domes of Russia," headed by Nikolai Nadezhdin, its General Director. The bell-tower has now grown three meters in height to a total of 78 meters. Its biggest bell weighs five tons. It was cast in 2003 in commemoration of the 100-year anniversary of Venerable Seraphim's glorification and placed on the bell-tower's first tier.
During Soviet times, the clock went silent and was removed from the tower and TV antenna was installed on its top tier. In 2003, a clockmaker Alexander G. Krasnikov from the city of Kaluga made a new clock in commemoration of Venerable Seraphim's glorification. The clock has an intricate mechanism, containing an aluminum frame, steel shafts, arbors and gear trains. The Diveyevo clock weighs about 200 kg, while its three weights are 150 kg each.

Beginning in 2003, the Diveyevo clock chimed the melody composed by Hegumen Micah (Timofeev) using three bells that call everyone to service. In 2013, four clock-ringing bells were custom ordered at Moscow's "Litex" plant. These are so-called "inviting" bells with a high-pitched sound. The clock contains three mechanisms. Its central mechanism is a clock escapement, responsible for displaying the time at the clock's dial. Every 15 minutes, special levers switch on the second mechanism that actuates chiming at every quarter of an hour. Next, it transitions to a third mechanism responsible for chiming at every hour.

On June 24, 2014, on the eve of the feasts of Venerable Mother Alexandra and the Synaxis of Diveyevo Saints, the bell-tower's clock began chiming "Most Holy Mother of God, save us" at every quarter of an hour, in the same manner it was done in olden times. The memories of this pre-revolutionary tradition were preserved in Diveyevo. A much more somber melody chimed from the Sarov monastery's bell-tower: "Who can ever escape you, the hour of death."
During Soviet times, the clock went silent and was removed from the tower and TV antenna was installed on its top tier. In 2003, a clockmaker Alexander G. Krasnikov from the city of Kaluga made a new clock in commemoration of Venerable Seraphim's glorification. The clock has an intricate mechanism, containing an aluminum frame, steel shafts, arbors and gear trains. The Diveyevo clock weighs about 200 kg, while its three weights are 150 kg each.

Beginning in 2003, the Diveyevo clock chimed the melody composed by Hegumen Micah (Timofeev) using three bells that call everyone to service. In 2013, four clock-ringing bells were custom ordered at Moscow's "Litex" plant. These are so-called "inviting" bells with a high-pitched sound. The clock contains three mechanisms. Its central mechanism is a clock escapement, responsible for displaying the time at the clock's dial. Every 15 minutes, special levers switch on the second mechanism that actuates chiming at every quarter of an hour. Next, it transitions to a third mechanism responsible for chiming at every hour.

On June 24, 2014, on the eve of the feasts of Venerable Mother Alexandra and the Synaxis of Diveyevo Saints, the bell-tower's clock began chiming "Most Holy Mother of God, save us" at every quarter of an hour, in the same manner it was done in olden times. The memories of this pre-revolutionary tradition were preserved in Diveyevo. A much more somber melody chimed from the Sarov monastery's bell-tower: "Who can ever escape you, the hour of death."
The bell-tower of Diveyevo, the monastery's tallest structure, can be seen from afar, regardless of the direction. The sleek bell-tower dominates the Diveyevo's cathedrals as if lined behind it. In general, the monastery complex makes for a uniform architectural ensemble. The way to the bell-tower's holy gates leads uphill. A look from the bottom of an access walk goes upwards, to the soaring height of the bell-tower, exciting and elevating the soul beyond worldly cares. With its heavenward lines, the bell-tower's architecture suggests the connection between man's hope and heaven.
The bell-tower of Diveyevo, the monastery's tallest structure, can be seen from afar, regardless of the direction. The sleek bell-tower dominates the Diveyevo's cathedrals as if lined behind it. In general, the monastery complex makes for a uniform architectural ensemble. The way to the bell-tower's holy gates leads uphill. A look from the bottom of an access walk goes upwards, to the soaring height of the bell-tower, exciting and elevating the soul beyond worldly cares. With its heavenward lines, the bell-tower's architecture suggests the connection between man's hope and heaven.
In general, the architectural look of the Seraphim-Diveyevo monastery's bell-tower brings to mind other eye-catching, grandiose bell-towers (Novospassky's is one such example). It is possible to draw parallels with the church architecture at other locations native to Venerable Seraphim of Sarov, in particular the bell-tower of the Rylsk Dormition Cathedral of Kursk Province.

V.V.Krasnov, O.V. Degteva. Forgotten name, set in stone./Nizhegorodskaya Starina, #31-32, 2012.
In general, the architectural look of the Seraphim-Diveyevo monastery's bell-tower brings to mind other eye-catching, grandiose bell-towers (Novospassky's is one such example). It is possible to draw parallels with the church architecture at other locations native to Venerable Seraphim of Sarov, in particular the bell-tower of the Rylsk Dormition Cathedral of Kursk Province.

V.V.Krasnov, O.V. Degteva. Forgotten name, set in stone./Nizhegorodskaya Starina, #31-32, 2012.
The golden domes sparkle in the rays of the sun and the sound of bells wafts in the air… It boggles and exalts the soul of the reverent Orthodox faithful.
The golden domes sparkle in the rays of the sun and the sound of bells wafts in the air… It boggles and exalts the soul of the reverent Orthodox faithful.
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