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General information

The Holy Dormition Kiev-Caves (“Kiev-Pechersk”) Lavra is the first and the most ancient monastery on the territory of contemporary Ukraine.

At present, only three monasteries are endowed with the status of  “lavra” and all are consecrated in honour of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos, they are:  Kiev-Caves Lavra, the Pochayiv Lavra and the Holy Mountains (“Svyatogorsk”) Lavra. This bears witness of the special veneration of the Most Holy Mother of God by our Orthodox people and is a testimony of the close ties between the monasticism of Kievan Rus  and the ancient skete of the Dormition  on Mount Athos.

The monastery was founded in the mid-11th century by the venerable Anthony and Theodosius of the Caves (of “Pechersk”). The incorruptible relics of more than 120 saints currently rest in peace in the caves of the monastery. Some of the saints (“God-pleasers”) are known all over the world such as  venerable Nestor the Chronicler, the venerable Ilya of Murom (his amazing feats of strength continue to be recounted in folk tales. He wasn’t a fictitious fairy-tale character but a real-life  bogatyr-warrior, who actually existed and who later on took  monastic vows) and the venerable Agapit of the Caves, the unmercenary  physician. For over a millennium, innumerable miracles and healings have occurred as a result of the many prayers that have been said to all the venerable fathers of the Kiev-Caves.

The holy relics of the very founders of the cradle of monasticism in Rus, the venerable Saints Anthony and Theodosius, according to Divine Providence, are also to be found  in the Kiev-caves, out of sight in a secret crypt to be revealed at a preordained  time. All the saints glorified by their  spiritual deeds (“podvigs”) and who now lay at rest in the Kiev-Caves Lavra,  still offer succor in their holy prayers at the Throne of God, for those of us coming to them with our sorrows, hardships, and pleas for aid.

The territory of the Kiev-Caves monastery occupies over twenty hectares and is located in the very heart of Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, which since the 11th century according to the “Primary Chronicle” (the work of venerable Nestor the Chronicler of the Kiev Caves) has been known as “the mother of all the cities of Rus”.  The Lavra complex has over a hundred  buildings, including numerous churches. On Sundays, up to ten Divine Liturgies are celebrated. While on weekdays,  divine services are permanently celebrated throughout the many churches. Six ancient underground churches are located in the Far and Near Caves of the Monastery.

At present, unfortunately, the most ancient monastery of Rus remains separated into two parts –  the so-called Lower and Upper Lavras. The caves and the active monastery are located in the Lower Lavra whilst the Upper Lavra is currently under the authority of the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine and is known as the National Historical and Cultural Preserve. The brethren of the monastery regularly celebrate divine services both in the Refectory Church of the Venerable Saints Anthony and Theodosius and also in the main church, which is the Dormition Cathedral (at the Upper Lavra).

Situated within the walls of the Kiev-Caves Lavra, is the Kiev Theological Seminary, which was resurrected in 1989, whilst the Kiev Theological Academy has been in operation since 1992. Its building was  earlier located in one of the districts of the capital, Podol (Podil), where the most famous secular institute of higher education, the National University of Kiev Mohyla Academy now resides.

The residence of the Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the Synodal Departments are located on the territory of the active Kiev-Caves monastery, His Beatitude Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine is the ruling archimandrite of the Holy Dormition Kiev-Caves Lavra.

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