A monastery surrounded by lilacs and chestnuts
According to legend, it replaced the Zvirynets Cave Monastery, founded at the time of the baptism of Rus (approximately 988 A.D.). For a long time the monastery was named after the founder-prince, Vsevolod’s Monastery at Vydubychi. The chronicler Silvestr, a follower of Nestor the Chronicler, worked in the monastery.
During the Mongol-Tatar invasion in 1240, St. Michael’s Monastery in Vydubychi was devastated, like most of the Kyivan shrines. Little is known about its further fate. There is a story according to which a monastery wall, including the altar, collapsed into the river due to the landslide of the hill.
Thanks to the efforts of Kyiv Metropolitan Petro Mohyla, St. Michael’s Church was rebuilt. So the modern building is only a part of the old one, even though it contains wall paintings of the 11th century. In 1767-1769, as a result of regular reconstruction, the building assumed Baroque features.
In the 17th and 18th centuries, the modern architectural ensemble of the monastery was formed. In 1696-1701, Colonel M. Myklashevskyi of Starodubsk built St. George’s Cathedral. At the same time, a refectory with the Church of the Transfiguration was built. Next to it, in 1727-1733, at the order of Hetman Danylo Apostol a bell-tower and the Church of the Prophet Daniel was built. A house for the archimandrite (abbot) and a corpus for the monastic brothers were also located there.
In the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries outstanding people were buried in the monastery, in particular: noted Ukrainian philanthropist and founder of the Kyiv Art Museum, Bohdan Khanenko and his wife Varvara; the great pedagogue Kostiantyn Ushynskyi (1823-71), who advocated the necessity of teaching in the popular Ukrainian language in the middle of the 19th century; and General Yakiv Handziuk (1863-1918), commander of the 1st Division of the First Ukrainian Corps under the command of Pavlo Skoropadskyi, shot by the Bolsheviks during the occupation of Kyiv in February1918, are buried there.
At the end of the 1920s, the Bolshevik regime closed down the monastery and transferred the building to the Institute of Archeology of the Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, thanks to which fact the architectural complex remained intact during the persecution of the church.
In 1992, the monastery resumed its church life. In 1996, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine handed over the Vydubychi Monastery to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyivan Patriarchate.
photographs by the author
Kyiv, 21 May 2006