Sts. Anthony and Theodosius of the Kiev Caves Skete in Odrynki



Skete The origins of the Hermitage of Sts. Anthony and Theodosius of the Kiev Caves is closely connected with the history of the Monastery of the Ascension of the Lord in the Białowieża Forest. In 1518, Prince Ivan Mikhailovitch Viskovatyi, when crossing the Narew river by raft on his way to Vilnius, saw a light before an icon of St. Anthony of the Kiev Caves.  Seeing this as a sign from God, the Prince funded the construction of a new chapel in the vicinity of the Narew river crossing. This event most likely took place not too far from where the Olszanica river flows into Narew, not far the settlement called “Kudok” surrounded by old oak trees. The Monastery of the Ascension of the Lord was established in the area of the former Błudowska Forest which connected Odrynki with the Narewska Forest. On October 8, 1574, Feodor Massalsky, the Marshal of Grodno, established in my city named Nowa Wola, the Church of the Ascension of our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ, which we have named and built to be a men’s monastery according to the Ancient Greek rite, in which the Divine Services will be served unceasingly.

o. Gabriel The Monastery of the Ascension of the Lord was established on the territory bordering the Błudowska Forest (which belonged to the Chodkiewicz family) and Narew. The Monastery was built in the vicinity of the present village of Odrynki. To this day, two  locations called Monaster and Krynoczka are found on the Olszanica river at the tributary flowing into the river Narew.  The monastery was established by monks from the Supraśl Lavra, where the cult of St. Anthony of the Caves was particularly important as a result of its connection with the Kiev Pechersk Lavra. The Ascension Monastery was built in a location where it would be possible to lead a hermetic monastic life. At the time, the Ascension Monastery was still officially under the authority of the Archimandrite of Vilnius and in the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Abbot of the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Vilnius. The monastic community in the Błudowski Forest ceased functioning after the dissolution of monasteries in the Podlasie region in 1824 at the decision of Spiritual Consistory in Minsk. It formally belonged to the Archimandrite of Vilnius in the 17th century and, in fact, ceased to exist in the first half of the 18th century.

The location of the monastery can be clearly associated with Żurawlik, Monastyr and Krynoczka, which are located in the area of Odrynki. Monastic life was still active in the 19th century. A recluse monk, Trofim Adamowicz Dubko, lived on the grounds of the former monastery until 1916. Presently, Archimandrite Gabriel (Giba) is renewing monastic life on the river Narwa according to the 16th century monastic tradition of the Supraśl Lavra. It was in this place, that Prince Ivan Mikhailovitch Viskovatyi first saw the icon of St. Anthony Pecherski in 1518; and, as the then superior of the Supraski Monastery, built a chapel, which became the foundation of a new hermitic monastic community.

Prof. dr hab. Antoni Mironowicz

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