January 26, 2020
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Spiritual Journey: Valaam monastery in Russia's far north (RT Documentary)

the windswept journey to Ville arm can be an act of penance in itself Valon doesn't offer excitement or adventure yet many come here for months at a time some never leave at all they say that balaam saves them this is one of the holiest sites of the russian orthodox church home to a thriving monastery the lay community that works with it and groups of volunteers that come and go throughout the year for the faithful this is a journey for the soul a pilgrimage this is the place that has been consecrated to God for almost a thousand of years people came here 20 some years ago to reestablish the mastic life on this island they did that believing that Christ is the only source of true and joy and happiness in life that understanding penetrated into everything that surrounds us in the monastery and people I suppose feel that feel the love of Christ or working for people thank you sir girls will divide into groups now so we need about Sergei how many people do you need seven seven people dually choose one two three four five six seven seven people good the rest will split into two one half will go to the farm the other to the upper garden who's already been to the upper garden you okay that way can I go to the upper garden I'm allergic to animals can I go to the farm and me we'll go to the farm cows Olson I'd come to Vil armed with a group of volunteers men and women of all ages who are here to give something back to God and in this case it means hard work this is the middle of the busy tourist season and there's plenty to do down on the farm all right come in come in into the chicken coop it's like into the lion's den take well okay you're careful careful how to hold her she doesn't know you careful like this that's okay put on your hand she'll sit on your hand it's a bit stressful for them touch her on the neck like this okay so finally they like having their wattles stroke that's a this one's gone far away from me try this side so here we go madam what's that like this no while I'm there sanctified on vellum and they're very kind see how kind they are good girl good girl belong special eggs see what the fuss is all about most one-two-three whether it's the saintly atmosphere or something in their feed there's certainly fantastic layers to gigantic chickens here right and then up excuse me thank you very much one two yes I know it's not very nice well that's it's one two three four four one set done only another 775 to go the volunteers come from a huge variety of different backgrounds svetlana is a model from moscow but she's not afraid of getting her hands dirty well it's probably not normal that a girl like me came here instead of going to Turkey or enjoying summer and a beach somewhere but here I am living with monks and waiting someone else's garden where is the but there are other people that look at themselves and at life in a completely different way and they're not held back really we're all here but also voila for me is a place of strong spiritual power I've wanted to come here for a long time now there is a possibility I can become a volunteer here we work for the glory of God and help restore this place there are common threads that bind many of the people here together and the group often becomes like a surrogate family mostly these are Orthodox people who came here to find Brotherhood but of course there is some percentage that come here looking for their way in life and then I take them for a walk in the woods and try to do whatever I can to help them find the answer many people simply come for the Ireland's outstanding natural beauty edged by rugged shorelines and covered with lush greenery this is truly a tranquil getaway but there are some visitors to the LARM who have no families to return to and whose trip to the island is a welcome break from a difficult life leakage Ella's neck runs a camp for children from local orphanages who also have learning difficulties for many it's the first time they've spent nights away from the city because they the first time we came here with disabled children for many years before we used to take the kids on trips we did that because we understood that nature does children a world of good that year we decided to try working with children with the help of villars nature this place turned out to be totally unique it's not just the nature here that works did him you should bear in mind that these children are from a correctional orphanage they're believed to be unable to go to an ordinary school because of some mental disability in fact this isn't true they are not mentally retarded whatsoever these are the first kids that just sit on the shore of ladder gong and watch the storms the splashing water and they say thank you for choosing such a beautiful place it was simply amazing if they feel it they can feel the beauty apparently they don't have good feelings in their lives hardly any fifteen-year-old Denise is just one of the youngsters reaping the benefits this is his second time on the island and he says it's changed his life but it's a rocky road that's brought him here yes and I can't say that I had a good childhood my dad was an alcoholic my mom was too mom ended up in prison that's how I ended up in an orphanage everything changes as time goes by Michelle at the moment I have no grudge against anyone my life has become so much better now I've forgotten my past it's no good remembering it and he's a handy man to have around when you catch something to pull it down to the shore as a beauty whoo ah huddled at least with if it ducks I'm king of fishing yeah the English weather what the hell I do here hahaha seriously ah yes with Lana Samara valentyna vulgar would make the Kenya senior I was staying in the volunteers dormitory normally men and women are kept segregated but the old get-together is allowed especially for a meet-and-greet session everyone says where they're from why they've come to Ville arm and their name then all you've got to do is remember them Xenia yeah Ivanushka okay let's have a go say Neos with Lana tomorrow Valentina Olga Victor um scenic sing Avira Dasha Alexander Vladimir Allah Galina Polina Veronica Stefani Svetlana uh aksinya suit Lana Nikolai Gennady Ksenia uh Agnieszka yelena Sergei and you said he wouldn't be able to do it you know guys sometimes sometimes it works sometimes work at the monastery takes us all around the island along roads that people have traveled here for more than 150 years although most of the brothers live in the center of the monastery a small selection choose to isolate themselves from the rest of the community retiring to Hermitage is where only men are allowed to enter the grounds the russians call these places skeets and there among the holiest centers of balaam each one is way off the beaten track and for some of the volunteers the journey to God has been anything but straightforward to use to be an atheist and believe in nothing but science logic and facts I was looking for truth everywhere I followed all the popular fashions that people write books and make films about only after 20 years of searching did I become an Orthodox Christian after praying at the coffin of a famous Russian Saint I discovered that many things have changed first of all the pain in my leg that I'd suffered for ages had disappeared and last but not least I discovered the ability to read in old Church Slavonic even though I'd never learned how to do that those who've been here more than once say you have to put the time into the lamb to understand it fully that living and working here is the only way to really tap into its energy the job is tough and repetitive but none of the volunteers complain everyone is confident of a spiritual reward and happy that they're working to re-establish a faith that was so persecuted during the Soviet Union our faith is the only branch that has managed to keep the apostolic tradition alive that's not changed since the time of the Apostles maybe that's why it has preserved the bread of life that Jesus Christ spoke of the Living Word that's why Russia is experiencing a spiritual rise now Balaam's pride and joy is its Transfiguration of the Saviour Cathedral and the sound of its bells draw tourists pilgrims and volunteers to worship or to work let's work for the glory of God while the skilled workers cut hammer and replace the volunteers keep supplies coming and clean up the mess it's a massive job the cathedral is 76 meters high and in some areas they're having to remove more than 120 years of dirt when I came here last year it was sin approximately the same condition yeah it's a long process this is serious work it's very expensive and requires a high degree of professionalism I was surprised when they invited volunteers to work here at best their trusted with work like this is it enough or do we need more yeah the one I think it's enough you'll have to carry it let's go oh is it heavy right this is doing wonders for my back yeah I'll take it well the waste has to go somewhere and as Sergey and I are responsible for getting it off the scaffolding as quickly as possible we need to take the direct route the bucket and pulley a primitive transport system but it works so luckily for 40 years it had no proper roof it wasn't looked after properly and still it endured all these conditions that only means that the cathedral was made really very well it was built with a huge margin for safety the cathedral will stand like this for many years to come now we're trying to save what's being preserved this work should be done and it should be preserved this is truly part of the national heritage don't know sir it's a disease of yours ah so I stole gum chose needle yeah Georgia was so mature – at pre Roda cateura umareta Bonita it's just an illusion Cardenas Couture okay visual which is sOooo ganda not subpoenaed Ostrom op share abort amnesty Virginia Lee current team of volunteers want their children to leave Villar with a new perspective also the work they do here fosters a spirit of cooperation and they can see their efforts developing before their eyes it's so real here it's hard to explain everything is so natural this is the way people should live I guess you're not watching this because indeed we wanted to show these children that there is a place where they can ask for help in case something really bad happens to them and UCP endure stand completely that bad things will happen to them in the future they're perfectly aware of what life has in store for them they know that there will be a lot of drug dealers and alcohol they understand how hard it is to resist those things so it's very important for them to know that there is a place where they're always welcome ninety three people they should know how to find the way to this place walking around Ville arm is like stepping back into a different age and it's easy to see why so many regarded as a sanctuary away from the real world it seems to have a physical and emotional energy which the monks say is a manifestation of God's grace it's had such a profound effect on so many that there's even a syndrome named after it Bellanca the compulsion to return to the island again and again and it's not just adults who experience it my mom first brought me here before I started going to school I liked it very much and it's become my favorite place now why is it your favorite place I like it because of its weather because of the monastry it feels so good in here they've got a farm it's nice to live here people are very kind do you know what you want to do when you grow up to be a monk you want to be a monk why it's just what's in my heart I can't explain why I feel this way they live here yes I want to live on Balam what he truly wants at this point is not to be a monk but he wants he wants purpose he wants something pure something which signifies him something which speaks of him as a man as a human being people became knights and soldiers for the same reason I would certainly encourage him father Joseph Stern II to the Brotherhood here was more unusual than most after attending University in st. Petersburg he spent 15 years living in ministering in the US before retiring touval arm he says each monk must earn his place in the monastery spiritual pastors of the monastery will decide whether you're prepared to become a novice you'll become officially a novice and a part of the Brotherhood and spend some time that way and a few years or maybe months later if you still decide to embrace this kind of life and people see your as a benefit to the community you'll be tonsured and perhaps even are attained to the priesthood the monastic community here has been rebuilt in the last 20 years after a period during the Soviet Union when the area served as a mental asylum now there are around a hundred brothers living here permanently but before the Russian Revolution of 1917 there were more than a thousand some of whom left a legacy down the ages this quiet scene is called the Smolensk skeet and it's famous in particular because of one monk Efraim he took it upon himself to pray for the souls of dead soldiers and he took his work so seriously that he dug his own grave and every night he would lie in his own coffin and ever since then the chapel has been dedicated for the souls of those who've died for the faith and for the motherland even if a life of extreme self-sacrifice doesn't appeal it is at least possible to follow in the footsteps of some of these old Saints and one of the most popular pilgrimages is tube alarms most famous hermit well this is the cave where a st. Alexander of sphere lived this is the place where Alexander of spheres spent hours praying in solitude here he would make a fire the stones got warm and gave heat back so he could spend winters here he led such a righteous life that he was granted a vision the Holy Trinity came to him in the form of three angels and ordered him to go to the river sphere and found a monastery there it is still functional excursions like these are part of the joy of alarm there's an archipelago of small islands just waiting to be explored and the landscape always provides some great photos but many of alarmed secrets are only revealed in the churches themselves bell ringing here is a real art and the campin ologists trained for years to master the difficult rhythms they need to control up to a dozen bells at once and make it look effortless it's part of alarms proud musical tradition displayed in its full glory during the solemn services I'm choosing offense to bully us I think we should fill our lives with as many rich and diverse impressions as possible today I'm at Bella in two months I'll be working somewhere else in such a way your worldview builds up on different things you can develop yourself and create your personality this earth is like a hotel we're only here temporarily which is where we'll go to hell or to heaven God tests us on the earth if you obey me and follow my laws then you'll go to heaven if you don't then you'll go to hell we have to move on in this life here you get some kind of luggage that you will later take with you into the city we have to move on make plans build families and realize in your family what you've learned here this is a bro but moving back to real life is easier for some than for others the children from leakers orphanage camp have reached the end of their stay and it was time to see them off for the docks so long it's clear to Lika that these aren't the same kids that arrived on the island just a few weeks ago that at least for a while Valon has worked it's magic and brought a little joy into their lives but it can't make this moment any less painful perhaps the monks of old settled here because they felt there was something otherworldly about Balaam then it was always a place with special energy either from nature or from something more divine for the pilgrims and volunteers who journey here one visit is rarely enough and many will return to Balaam a place with the power to heal the spirit you

Jean Kelley



  1. Erik Lindhurst Posted on July 21, 2019 at 3:46 pm

    That was beautiful. What a wonderful place!

  2. Craig Mouldey Posted on July 21, 2019 at 3:46 pm

    I couldn't help but get tears in my eyes watching the power of the Kingdom of God at work. Christ is in our midst.

  3. James Brien Posted on July 21, 2019 at 3:46 pm

    fantastic experience.  Wonderful documentary.

  4. indrani gillette Posted on July 21, 2019 at 3:46 pm

    I thought they are vegetarian? They are fishing and eating eggs!

  5. Paula Posted on July 21, 2019 at 3:46 pm

    Beautiful !! The bit about the youngsters brought tears flowing – too many young people have really tough lives. God bless and protect them.

  6. Србољуб Србић Posted on July 21, 2019 at 3:46 pm

    Славите Господа! Алилуја! 🇷🇺🇷🇸

  7. Jay Felsberg Posted on July 21, 2019 at 3:46 pm

    I susect that most models in the US do not work for the Glory of God

  8. Catina Mauro Posted on July 21, 2019 at 3:46 pm

    Do they still think that ADHD is a form of developmental delay? Or that Dyslexia is too? This is so sad to see. A lot of kids with ADHD are actually suffering PTSD of some complexity of it, that is…I hope that Russia has more deeper understanding of "Learning" disabilities by looking at it through other cultures not just their understanding of it. .

  9. Anna Amato Posted on July 21, 2019 at 3:46 pm

    Valaam is the real world, the modern world is a fantasy! God bless you and Russia!

  10. Tim Fronimos Posted on July 21, 2019 at 3:46 pm

    Thank you to whoever posted this video it is beautiful.

    I had an Irish Catholic mother and a Greek Orthodox father and I value both Latin and Byzantine spirituality.

    If this monastery is open to Catholic pilgrims, I would love to visit some day.

    If there is a Russian speaker here…
    Can someone translate

    "Saviour of the world, save Russia.
    Saviour of the world, save America

    Prince of prince,
    May the Church someday be one."


    Is the name Timothy very rare or common in Russia

  11. salman shaikh Posted on July 21, 2019 at 3:46 pm

    Mashallah.. wud love to visit someday myself

  12. Joshua Chong Posted on July 21, 2019 at 3:46 pm

    St Alexandre Svir's body never rot and is still today , a relic and can be venerated and seen by our own eyes

  13. silver fox Posted on July 21, 2019 at 3:46 pm

    Holy place, like Mt. Athos.

  14. Bernhard Spoeth Posted on July 21, 2019 at 3:46 pm

    Buddhist morning ceremony

  15. Anoyal F Posted on July 21, 2019 at 3:46 pm

    Very beautiful monastery👍👍👍👍🇷🇺💖 praise the lord!………

  16. T Rader Posted on July 21, 2019 at 3:46 pm

    Just curious, what does the Russian Orthodox Church believe one must do to get to heaven? I'm not trying to start a debate, this is a serious question. To me it just seems like they're Catholic.

  17. Theo didactas Posted on July 21, 2019 at 3:46 pm

    God bless Rusia

  18. Anita Stephen Posted on July 21, 2019 at 3:46 pm

    Lucky Russia to have a holy and blessed valaam monastery. May the good Lord increase and prosper the works & deeds of the monks. May prosperity chase them and may they flourish so that we have more of God fearing Christian people. Love from India!

  19. Maaruks Posted on July 21, 2019 at 3:46 pm

    Trump should nuke them

  20. judy canaday Posted on July 21, 2019 at 3:46 pm

    Aloha from Hawaii 🌈🌺🌼🌸 I have been watching this for the past three years.

  21. wildbill9919 Posted on July 21, 2019 at 3:46 pm

    I would like to spend some time there and get out of the rat race for a few years.

  22. Sangkhon Khorn Posted on July 21, 2019 at 3:46 pm

    Beautiful Place

  23. Kenneth Perry Posted on July 21, 2019 at 3:46 pm

    Holding a cross does not make you a christian only jesus can do that you can be all peaceful very pious but without jesus you have nothing

  24. Strongboy1770 Posted on July 21, 2019 at 3:46 pm

    This is not the Far North. It is clearly the taiga; the Far North is treeless tundra. I even saw fruit trees, which are deciduous. How long is the longest day in June and the shortest in December? How do you keep your sanity during the long winter nights? What do you use to heat your dwellings? Do volunteers and children stay over the winter? Can they return home in case of emergency or is the island cut off without transportation?

  25. Rav Bhattson Posted on July 21, 2019 at 3:46 pm

    God bless Russia and this pious monastery of Valaam.
    Regards from a Hindu brother.