The gifts Aleksandr Sergeevich Pushkin gave to people around the world in his thousands of poems and dozens of compositions, have an immortalized place in human culture. And if you ask any Russian "Who is the greatest poet ever," you'll hear: "Pushkin of course!"
The name of Pushkin in inextricably linked with Saint Petersburg and Moscow, even though he ventured to enjoy a rich and colorful life in places all across Russia. Why one segment of his relatively short life of 36 years was even spend at Svyato-Uspenskyi Svyatogorskyi monastery. In fact it was here, one of the world's greatest names faced his final test, on 6th February, 1837.
For those of you unfamiliar, allow me to delve into the history of this monastery, in order to perhaps discover why Pushkin was laid to rest here.
The Svyato-Uspenskyi abode was established by Ivan the Terrible in 1569. Early on, the stone temple with belfry were built, along with houses for the monks. On completion, the site was rounded off with a defensive palisade, another sign of those times. The monastery, like so many others in those troubled times, was not only cultural and religion place, but the shelter for the peasants in case of enemy attack. The people of the region could sustain a seige of many months within the walls now readily apparent.
So it was, that Svyato-Uspenskyi monastery became one of the most revered holy places of that time. Ivan the Terrible even presented the monastery with a 25 toned bell called Goryun (above). Later on Tsar Mikhail Fedorovich gave the monks here the Holy Gospel to observe, in a famous golden frame. By the end of the XVI Century Svyatogorskyi monastery was severely damaged by the invading Polish army of king Stephan Batoryi on their way to Pskow. The king burned whole villages and fields of rye in what was a scorched Earth strategy of the time, but thanks to the fierce resistance of the militias and decisive battle under the walls of the Pskov Kremlin, his army was crushed.
The monastery was rebuilt, and Goryun rang again calling people to the service(mass). It was at this time the tradition outside the monastery walls began, a cultural and mercantile events and fairs where traders from all over Russia were drawn to the monastery. Later, in the XVII Century, the settlement and village called Holly Hills sprung up. Several miles distant, was the family estate of the Hannibals-Pushkins. So it was that the mother of Aleksandr Sergeevich Pushkin, Nadezda Osipovna (Hannibal) inherited the Mikhailovskiy domain in which later lived and worked the great poet.
So, you see, Aleksandr Sergeevich Pushkin's fate was linked deeply with these places. While he was in exile (1824-1826) Svyato-Uspenskyi monastery became the treasury house of the knowledge of history for him. Pushkin was here dozens of times, learning and relearning the ancient stories, holding endless discussions with abbot, and so on. It was during one of these visits Pushkin wrote the "Boris Godunov" poem, the subjects Pushkin called the most mature fruit of his genius.
Then in April of 1836 in St. Petersburg Pushkin's mother, Nadezda Osipovna Pushkina succumbed after a long illness. Shattered by his mother's death, Aleksandr Sergeevich followed her body to Svyatogorskyi Monastery, where she was buried in the Hannibals-Pushkins family vault. It was then Pushkin bought a place near her grave to be close to her after death.
Ironically, it was just one year later, in February of 1837 after the duel with Dantes, that Pushkin passed away. In between 5th and 6th February, the Abbot of the monastery held a memorial service. And so it was, the Russian legend was inextricably linked to Svyato-Uspenskyi Svyatogorskyi monastery, a place now revered for the life and works of a genius. Now his name is revered by grateful descendants, and millions of children grow up to the wisdom and beauty of his poems.
An interesting and somewhat tragic footnote to Puskin's resting place took place during World War Two, when the Nazis actually mined his grave in order to kill innocents visiting the monastery. In fact, it was in July of 1944, while diffusing these mines, that 9 soldiers of the 12th Engineer Brigade were killed. Their names were added to the memorial table near the poet's grave, further testimony to an immortal place of reverence for Russians. Even through the most trying times, the monastery welcomes thousands of visitors. Each year the throng come here to pray and lay flowers to the grave of the great Russian poet Aleksandr Pushkin.