Documentary cinema


Genre: A documentary film
Director: Ye. Pechkurova

Duration: 26 мinutes
Theme: History and Education

There are many books and research works published and films and television shows broadcast about restoration of Russia’s holy places.

This topic became quite popular lately in our nation as well as abroad. It is not surprising. Awakened after long periods of atheism, oblivion and detachment, now we are studying past generations in an attempt to restore the broken spiritual link with the Great Past, with the historical heritage, with the astonishingly powerful Christian traditions of Russia, beginning with times of Christening of Russ and early Christians.

The idea of our film is, along with a wonderful story of rebuilding of Sharovkin Monastery of Our Lady’s Assumption in Kaluga Region, to research and tell a story about the human feat of True Faith, which cannot be measured in seconds, or years, or centuries. The story of restoration of this Monastery is a little but an important example of such a feat, a tiny detail in the eternal machinery of Existence.

230 km from Moscow.

The village of Ilyinskoye, Peremyshl District, Kaluga Region.

The grounds of the Ugra National Park.

This is where a federal historical and architectural monument: Sharovkin Monastery of Our Lady’s Assumption, or rather what is left of the Monastery erected at times of Ivan the Terrible, located.

Many famous people of those times took part in its construction and functioning. The Monastery as a complex was founded in the beginning of the 16th century by Monk Feognost Sharovka. He received generous contributions from local landowners Princes Vorotynskiys. Boyars and noblemen Odoyevskiys, Khvorostins, Mosalskiys, Yushkovs and Buturlins provided generous contributions, too. Tsars contributed their share to its existence, especially Ivan the Terrible and Aleksey Mikhaylovich. However, by the end of the 17th century the Monastery got poor. In 1684, it was assigned to Moscow Don Monastery. In 1766, a big fire destroyed all of its wooden structures which caused a closure of the Monastery. Its churches were reassigned to be parish churches.

The last bell toll of the Church of Assumption was heard in 1936. The shrine was lost to long years of oblivion. Today, an unstoppable struggle for its literal survival is going on. In 1975, a commission came from Moscow and, after looking at the remaining structures, declared it a federal historical and architectural monument! There were promises to assist in reconstruction. Since then, no official has ever come to see if there was any progress.

During difficult Soviet years and turbulent perestroika years, the place was attempted to be preserved by efforts of local older women (more of them are over 80 years of age now). There are two special ones: Nina and Antonina. Despite of their hard rural working life, despite of mockeries and denial of villagers, they spent their off-cow-milking time and remaining energy to improve the shrine. Asking their husbands to assist, they plastered walls, laid floors. They made candleholders from materials that happened to be at hand. It looks so touching! The husbands are no longer alive and the old women, who now have trouble walking, still come to the church to pray and help in any way the can. Their efforts did not end in vain. The Church of Our Lady’s Assumption now looks almost same as it was long ago! It is a true wonder of the genuine feat!

The bells resumed tolling over the old village, as a declaration of the church resurrection, on Palm Sunday of 2010.

Now, near the church, in a cramped and cold trailer, three nuns live who came here by blessing of Confessor of Optin Monastery Iliy, to continue to reconstruct this holy place. Here are their “21th century” living conditions: firewood comes from the forest, water comes from the river, the latrine is in the field. The three young women are designing landscaping, digging out foundations, studying archives, collecting historical materials and documents and looking for assistants. In other words, they do what they can, as the previous old women have done, to restore our history from ruins!

New features on the road to the sacred place are: new road signs on the Moscow to Optin Monastery route and pilgrims guided by the new road signs. Reappearance of Sharovkin Monastery on the Russian pilgrimage routes is another true faith mending of the history line. The keepers of the shrine, old women with ignited icon lamps, ignite hearts of others, encouraging them to protect the Orthodox faith in their little swaths of Russia and meet new pilgrims with tears in their eyes.

Anyone coming to this place tries to help further restore this shrine.

History is not an impersonal text printed in a manual. It is the process of understanding of the past through nowadays. Here, at the ancient shrine, is the untouched by time land and people with their special vision of true human values.

Our film will attempt to discover and trace the histories of these people who happen to be on this wonder land of eternity.

Academician Dmitriy Likhachyov once wrote these words to the point: “We do not protect our history not because we have much of it, not because we have just a few who appreciate the past, just a few patriots who value our history and art, but because we are in haste, expecting immediate revenue. We do not believe in unhurried soul cures. The ancient monuments teach to care in the same way as well-groomed forests teach to care for the surrounding nature”.

Will we succeed in protecting our blissful ancestry for future generations?

Author: Yelena Pechkurova

History Materials Consultant: Varvara Kashirina, PhD (Philology)

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