Monastery of St. John the Merciful

Address:
Vyazniki district, Mstera settlement, Leningrad Street, 16
GPS:
56.37608069, 41.93820259

The nunnery of St. John the Merciful is located on the central square of Mstera, literally across the wall from the male Epiphany Monastery, and was founded almost simultaneously with it.

The wooden church of John the Merciful was first mentioned in the scribe books of 1628-1630. By the middle of the 17th century, a woman's monastery was established at the church, perhaps as a house monastery of the princesses Romodanovsky, some of whom are mentioned in the documents as nuns. As is known, Epiphany (Bogoyavlenskaya) Sloboda (since the 19th century – Mstera) was the patrimony of the noble family of Romodanovsky. It is believed, that it was in the women's monastery, that the Mstera embroidery – white satin-stitch was born, which became one of Mstera's famous traditional art crafts.

By the decree of Catherine II, in 1764 the monasteries in Mstera were abolished, and the church of St. John the Merciful became parochial. At the end of the 18th century, the ensemble of the former convent consisted of the wooden church of St. John the Merciful with two aisles, a tented bell-tower with the main entrance, a stone fence, and a small chapel.

In 1809, the wooden church of St. John the Merciful was dismantled and a single-headed stone church was built in its place. In the 1860s, at the expense of the industrialist O.O. Senkov, a native of Mstera, the temple was equipped: cast-iron floor was laid in it, the walls were painted by an artel of masters from Palekh, and the bell-tower was rebuilt. Thanks to this honorary donator, valuable icons and church utensils were bought into the church.

In 1929 the church of John the Merciful was sealed, crosses and bells were removed, expensive utensils were nationalized. In the early 1930s, the temple was adapted to the club: the frescoes were painted over, the stage was built. The belfry and the fence were dismantled, and the chapel was turned into a shop, selling kerosene. In the late 1950s, the chapel was dismantled.

Bricks from dismantling of former monastic buildings were used for new construction: from the north side of the building – the foyer of the club, and from the west side – cinema-cabin and ticket window. After such rearrangements in the style of the so-called "Stalin’s empire" the church lost its original appearance, it became absolutely unlike the cult structure.

In 2005, the activity of the convent of St. John the Merciful was resumed. The restoration of the temple began: the main dome and a cross were erected on it, the altar was returned, the old stokehold was dismantled from the eastern side of the building and an outbuilding – from the south.

Today, the monastery has a social rehabilitation center "The Salvation Cup" for former drug addicts and alcoholics, as well as people who find themselves in a difficult life situation.

Author: V. Korolkova