A Ukrainian Athos in the Carpathians
A religious group consisting of ten people (monks and lay brothers) is trying to revive the Carpathian Maniavskyi Skete. It is a true Ukrainian Athos with great sanctuaries. Every Christian and pilgrim will find support and shelter there.
Ihor Stoliarov: It would be very interesting to hear the story of the Carpathian Maniavskyi Skete, the Orthodox sanctuary.
Monk Ileosar: This ancient monastery was founded in 1608, but its origins date back to 1240. At that time the Kyivan Monastery of the Caves was destroyed and its two monks (Ionykii and Pakhomii) took blessed water with them and went to look for a spring that would be equally powerful. They found such a spring on the Blessed Stone, here in Maliava, [in western Ukraine’s Ivano-Frankivsk region- editor’s note]. The stone is nearly 820 meters from the monastery. This is the source of the healing water.
In 1608 Iov Kniahynetskyi, who came from Tysma [also in the Ivano-Frankivsk region], visited ancient Athos in Greece. After living on the holy mountain for 12 years and taking monastic vows, he returned to Ukraine and settled on the territory of a former forest. When visiting the mountain cloister he said: “It is here that I found a place beyond the reach of people and cattle.” He founded this monastery together with his brother Teodosii.
By 1625, there were 550 monasteries subordinated to this monastery. Those were all major monasteries of Moldova, and Romania, the stronghold of Orthodoxy. In 1785 the Austro-Hungarian Empire ruined the monastery. Anti-Orthodox attitudes dominated the empire at that time. In those days the monastery had underground routes. One of them led to Voznesinka Mountain, nearly a kilometer away from the monastery. This was the site of the Ascension Church back then. This land had no monks for a long time.
Ihor Stoliarov: What about the bad times of atheism?
Monk Ileosar: In 1970 they began to convert the monastery into a museum. The work lasted for 10 years. At that time loud discos and festivals were held at the monastery. The building of the Church of the Dormition of the Mother of God was home to a restaurant for five years.
Ihor Stoliarov: But the revival times came eventually, didn’t they?
Monk Ileosar: In 1998, Mykhailo Vyshyvaniuk, the head of the regional administration, transferred this territory to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyivan Patriarchate (UOC-KP). Due to the sponsors of our ancient sanctuary, on 20 October 2002 the central Church of the Exaltation of the Cross was consecrated. More than 35, 000 Orthodox Christians visited our monastery at that time.
Our monastery still has its tower. It also has a belfry with the ancient icons of Antonii and Teodosii of the Kyivan Monastery of the Caves, and Iov and Teodosii of the Carpathian Maniava. There is a new burial place on the monastery grounds where Father Superior Iov was buried. He died on 25 March 2002 at the young age of 37. With his prayers to God he managed to heal many people.
The Carpathian Maniavskyi Skete was visited numerous times by Ukraine’s former President Leonid Kuchma. Russia’s former President Boris Yeltsin has been there too. We want to express our deepest gratitude to all sponsors and hope for the revival of the sanctuary.
Ihor Stoliarov: Can you please tell us more about the Blessed Stone?
Monk Ileosar: This icon is a special relic. It was written [painted] in 1788 at the ancient Athos in Greece and then given to the New Athos at the Caucasus and only from there it was presented to Ukraine, to the Maniavskyi Monastery of the Exaltation of the Cross.
On 25 June 2003 the icon was presented by a 95-year-old monk, an alumnus of Mount Athos. In 1997 the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to this monk and told him to give the icon to ”the Ukrainian Athos.” He asked the Mother of God, ”Where can I find this Ukrainian Athos? I do not know of such a place.” But Mary appeared again and told him to give the icon to the Ukrainian Athos in three days. And he did Not only people from different parts of Ukraine, but also from different faraway countries are coming to it and receiving healing.
The Ukrainian original of this text was posted on RISU on 23 July 2004.