Novodevichy Convent to be Handed Over
to Russian Orthodox Church

The Novodevichy Convent was known to have sheltered many ladies from the Russian royal families and boyar clans

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The Russian authorities have pledged to transfer the full authority over the famed Novodevichy Convent in Moscow to the Russian Orthodox Church in 2010.

The convent, founded by the Grand Prince Vasili III in 1524, is the residence of the Metropolitan of Krutitsy and Kolomna, but some of its churches and other monastic buildings are still affiliated with the State Historical Museum.

"We are planning to vacate the Novodevichy monastery in 2010 and fully transfer it to the [Russian Orthodox] Church," Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said at a meeting with the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill and the Minister of Culture Alexander Avdeev on Tuesday.

The meeting was also attended by Culture Minister Alexander Avdeyev and head of the Russian Federal Agency for State Property Management Yury Petrov.

"It will be a very important event, given the historical and spiritual significance of Novodevichy Convent for Moscow and the entire country," said the Russian Church Primate.

The Bolsheviks closed down the Novodevichy Convent and turned it into the Museum of Women's Emancipation in 1922.

By 1926, the monastery had been transformed into a history and art museum. In 1934, it became affiliated with the State Historical Museum.

Most of its facilities were turned into apartments, which spared the convent from destruction.

Although the monastery has been under the authority of the Metropolitan of Krutitsy and Kolomna since 1980, nuns returned to the monastery only in 1994.

Novodevichy Convent will retain the iconostasis it has in one its cathedrals, Avdeyev said. Yet another iconostasis will be transferred to the Convent. "One of the cathedrals there has no iconostasis, we will deliver one and leave it for safekeeping," the Minister said.

Putin congratulated on Tuesday the Russian Orthodox believers with upcoming Christmas and said that the Russian government would allocate over 2 billion rubles (about $67 million) in 2010 for the reconstruction of the facilities that belong to the Church.

The Russian Orthodox Church and its followers celebrate Christmas on January 7 rather than on December 25.

RIA Novosti
5 January, 2010