The Caves Monastery

More gold domes, more fantastic paintings.

The Kievo-Pechersky Lavra or the “Caves Monastery” is the main tourist attraction in Kiev.  The cluster of churches with clean white exteriors and green and gold rooftops is considered the spiritual heart of the Ukraine.  The Lavra dates back to when Prince Vladimir introduced Christianity as the new state religion of Rus.  Shortly after, Christianity was made the nation’s religion, St. Anthony came from Mount Athos in Greece (1051) and settled in a manmade cave on the shores of the Dnipro River, where he lived, and was known was for his asceticism and spirituality.  Other monks joined him and extended the caves by adding tunnels and cells, where they could pray and meditate and write.

After the monastery was moved above ground, the dead were laid to rest in the underground caves.  While some of the bodies have been dead over 1000 years, they are still preserved, even without embalming.  The Church claims this to be a miracle, so people come to touch the shrouded bodies.  The scientific investigations and conclusions of the Soviets–that the bodies hadn’t decomposed because the lack of moisture prevented organic decay–was ignored.

The story goes that the Soviets tried to discard the bodies, but when they loaded the bodies into a truck, the truck wouldn’t start.  So after the truck sat there for three weeks, they gave up and returned the bodies to the caves.  Miraculously, the truck started right up, and Soviets decided that the bodies were where they were supposed to be.

Main entrance to the Lavra, murals painted in 1900

Inside main entrance

In the distance is Church of the Assumption, the oldest church above ground in the Lavra

Church of the Assumption

Gilded side doors of the Church of the Assumption

Great Bell Tower, the tallest orthodox structure in the country at 96.5 m

The Upper and Lower Lavra overlooking the Dnipro River

Rodyna Mat, the Nation’s Mother, on the right bank of the Dnipro River–

made of titanium and carrying a sword and shield (bearing the hammer and sickle),

representing the defense of the country

*    *    *

Still no word on another adoption appointment at the Kiev Ministry.

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The quote I live by

Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.
--Rainer Maria Rilke in Letters to a Young Poet

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