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Alexander Nevsky Lavra founded in St. Petersburg

5 April 1713

March 25 (April 5) 1713, in St. Petersburg, in the presence of Peter I was consecrated a wooden Church of the Annunciation; this very day is considered the official founding date of the Alexander Nevsky Lavra.

According to legend, Peter I, surveying in 1710 the neighborhood of St. Petersburg, took notice of the place where, in his opinion, July 15, 1240 The Holy Blessed Prince Alexander Yaroslavich scored a famous victory over the combined forces of the Swedes, Norwegians and Finns led by their glorious commander Birger (Battle of the Neva), for which he was named by his contemporaries Alexander Nevsky". Founder of the northern capital, called the place "Victory", and ordered to build a monastery in honor of the Holy Trinity and St. Alexander Nevsky. At the same time, Archimandrite Theodosius erected a cross there with the inscription: "A monastery to be created in this place".

At the specified location was placed a chapel, and March 25 (April 5) 1713, in the presence of His Imperial Majesty with his supreme council [was consecrated a wooden church] in the name of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary ... and that day His Imperial Majesty, with his entire court deigned to feast in the new monastery".

In 1714, monastic cells were built and monastic communal life started.

In 1716 was founded Lazarevskoye cemetery which got its name from a small stone church of righteous Lazarus,   built near the altar of the wooden Annunciation Church for the burial of Peter I's sister, princess Natalia Alexeevna.

In 1720 under the monastery was opened a printing house, and later - the Theological Academy, which still operates. In 1722, in accordance with the project of Domenico Trezzini, was constructed the stone Church of the Annunciation of the Holy Mary. August 30 (September 10), 1724 the relics of St. Alexander Nevsky were transferred here from Bogolyubski Nativity Monastery in Vladimir. Here they had stayed until 1790, and then were moved to the new Holy Trinity Cathedral, where they remained until 1922.

Construction work at the monastery lasted almost until the end of the 18th century. Metropolitan House, House of Bishops, the new buildings were constructed. In 1776, under the direction of the architect I. E. Starov, started the creation works of a new monumental Cathedral of Alexander Nevsky Lavra. In addition to the Trinity Cathedral, Starov designed around square at the entrance to the monastery, built the Gate Church, which completes the perspective of Nevsky Prospekt, the stone wall and two corner houses and building of the almshouses at the entrance to the square.

18 (29) December 1797 Emperor Paul I ordered the Holy Synod to rename the Alexander Nevsky Monastery ‘into Lavra with the staff equal to the one of Kiev-Pechersk and Trinity St. Sergius.’

From the very beginning of St. Petersburg’s existence, Alexander Nevsky Lavra became the burial place for outstanding statesmen and public figures, representatives of art and culture. The ensemble of the Alexander Nevsky Lavra includes four cemeteries: Lazarevskoye, Tikhvinskoye, Nikolskoye and Kazachiye (“Communist platform”).

After the October Revolution of 1917 the monastery was abolished and its church closed, and countless relics and works of art were transferred to the Russian Museum, State Hermitage Museum and other museums of St. Petersburg.

In 1936-1937 in the territory of the monastery was created a museum - Leningrad necropolis, which, in 1939, was reorganized into the Museum of Urban Sculpture.

In 1957, Holy Trinity Cathedral of Alexander Nevsky Lavra was transferred to the Russian Orthodox Church as a parish church. June 3, 1989 the cathedral received back the relics of St.. Alexander Nevsky. In 1987, St. Nicholas cemetery church opened. In the summer of 1995 Holy Spirit building was partially returned to the St. Petersburg diocese. The final transfer of all the Lavra buildings to the Diocese took place April 18, 2000.

To date, Holy Trinity Alexander Nevsky Lavra is an active monastery of St. Petersburg Diocese.

Lit.: История Свято-Троицкой Александро-Невской лавры. 1713-1788 [Электронный ресурс] // Свято-Троицкая Александро-Невская Лавра. 2016. URL: http://lavra.spb.ru/about/history.html; Краткое описание Свято-Троицкой Александро-Невской лавры. М., 1809; Павлов А. Описание Свято-Троицкой Александро-Невской лавры с хронологическими списками особ, погребённых в церквах и на кладбищах лаврских. СПб., 1842; Долгов А. Памятники и монументы, сооружённые в ознаменование достопамятнейших русских событий и в честь замечательных лиц. СПб., 1860; Тихон, архим. К столетию Свято-Троицкого Собора в Александро-Невской лавре. СПб., 1890; Покровский П. Ф. К столетию Свято-Троицкого собора. СПб., 1890; Волховский М. Г. Святые места на Руси. СПб., 1894; Сперанский А. И. Александро-Невская лавра. СПб., 1897; Александро-Невская лавра. СПб., 1903; Кудрявцев А. И., Шкода Г. Н. Александро-Невская лавра: Ансамбль и памятники некрополей. Л., 1986.

From the Presidential library materials:

Живописное обозрение русских святых мест: Александро-Невская Лавра. Одесса, 1804. Вып. 3;

Рункевич С. Г. Александро-Невская лавра. 1713-1913 : историческое исследование доктора церковной истории С. Г. Рункевича. СПб., 1913;

Сведения о существующих в России лаврах и монастырях: собрано из разных источников. М., 1850. С. 42.