On the outskirts of a small village north of the Carpathians is one of the oldest monasteries in Ukraine. The full name of the place is the Holy Assumption Univ Lavra Studite. It is the only lavra of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. A lavra is a type of monastery that because of the number of monks and by its influence is established as the largest centre of religious culture of a region. Lavras are erected within the Orthodox and other Eastern Christian traditions; in Ukraine there are three lavras in total. Univ Lavra houses about twenty-five Studite Brethren.
The exact date of foundation of the monastery is unknown; however there is mention of its existence as early as the 14th century. In 1549 the monastery was burned down by marauding Tartars, who regularly raided the lands of Galicia which at the time was under the rule of Poland. Later in the 16th century a nobleman by the name Alexander Llagodovsky, restored the monastery after he claimed a miraculous healing of his ailments. According to legend, he built a church upon the ruins of the monastery at the site where he found an icon of the Blessed Mother Mary Protectress, which is now kept in the monastery.
In 1648, the Monastery was burned again by the Tartars, and was restored for a second time in the 18th century. The religious centre remained closed for a period of time during the rule of the Austrian Empire. It later was again revived only to be shut down again by the Soviet authorities in the early 20th century, pursuing an anti-religious policy which erased religious expression and sites from the public lives of Ukrainians up until the fall of the Soviet Union at the beginning of the 1990s. Today the monastery has returned to its position as an epicenter of religious culture in the region of Lviv, and its historical and cultural values are now being rejuvenated through communitarian initiatives and projects such as this one.
The sprawling religious compound contains a wooden church, a massive monastic complex, fortress-like walls, and an old bell-tower and a church which dates back to 1548. The old church incorporates antique frescoes as well as several religious relics and precious paintings.
Nearby Univ Lavra there is an archaeological site believed to be an old settlement of White Croats dating back to the 9th century called Volodymyriv Grad. From the monastery it is possible to climb the Chernecha Mountain belonging to Hologor Mountains, where the remains of settlement are found.
Today, Univ Lavra is one of the most important pilgrimage centres in Ukraine. Set on a picturesque landscape filled with history and natural beauty, this place breathes of tranquillity and peace. The idyllic setting of the monastery will be a perfect backdrop for two weeks of intense learning and training in conservation techniques guided by the expert trainers of the museum.
The Training Course
The Training Course is a continuation of the Training Course which took place in 2019, and it will, as the previous one, focus on the conservation and restoration of the wooden tabernacles from the collection of Univ Holy Dormition Lavra. The Training Course invites the participation of both skilled young heritage professionals as well as interested amateurs without formal education, but with dedication and interest in the topic.
In the Eastern Christian rite, the Holy Mysteries – the consecrated sacramental hosts – are kept in a tabernacle, which is a kind of ark or locked box placed on the altar at all times. The tabernacles are usually elaborately decorated objects made of wood or other precious materials. They contain the most sacred elements of the religious rites and traditionally they are handled with utmost respect.
As a first step, the tabernacles must be measured and catalogued, documenting them through a description of their condition and a photographic documentation, all done by the participants.
Based on the documentation, the conservation-restoration process of the tabernacles will be carried out. All the explanations of the materials and processes will be provided during the project by conservatoras-restorers.
Within the framework of the educational part the participants will learn about the history of the Univ Holy Dormition Lavra of the Studite Rite, about the current architectural features of the buildings and about the wall paintings of the main church as an example of the traditional wall painting and icon wall decor of the Orthodox churches. They will get to know the Univ Lavra Museum and its collection as well as more about the role these historical objects in the collection played in the beliefs of the peoples and communities to whom they belong.
Participants will also be invited to discuss such elements of faith and religious heritage from their own cultures, and the way these are interpreted as well as preserved from a heritage perspective.
The Training Course will take place from August, 1st, till August, 13th, 2021, and is jointly organised by European Heritage Volunteers, the Association Union Forum and Univ Holy Dormition Lavra of the Studite Rite.