THE MONASTERY

St. Michael's Vydubytsky Men's Monastery

Shevchenko Vydubytsky monastyrTaras Shevchenko, Vydubytsky monastyr; Pencil on paper, 1843.

History

The St. Michael's Vydubytsky Men's Monastery (Видубицький Свято-Михайлівський чоловічий монастир), popularly known as the Vydubychi Monastery, is one of the oldest and most beloved sacred sites in Ukraine. Nestled high on a hilltop terrace overlooking the Dnipro River and the city of Kyiv, the monastery complex is a stunning ensemble of medieval foundations, baroque cupolas, and verdant greenery.

The Church of St. Michael, the first stone structure on the territory of the monastery, was constructed in the 11th century under the patronage of the Grand Princes of Kyiv. Subsequently, Vydubychi became a center of chronicle writing and one of the most important monastic communities, second only to the Monastery of the Caves (Печерська Лавра).

The monastery enjoyed the support of lay and clerical leaders over the course of many centuries. In particular, the Cossack Hetmans and nobles became generous patrons in the late 17th and 18th centuries. The magnificent Church of St. George, the focal point of the present-day monastery complex and one of the finest examples of Ukrainian "Cossack Baroque", dates from this period. Beginning in the late 18th century, the monastery also came to include a hospital and a cemetery. The cemetery became a popular burial ground for the Ukrainian nobility as well as Kyiv's intellectual and cultural elite.

During the Soviet era, the Monastery was closed to religious worship, the monks were expelled, the cemetery was liquidated, and the Church of St. George and the adjoining medieval Church of St. Michael were converted into military warehouses. In 1967, a fire destroyed the interior of the Church of St. George along with the collection of ancient manuscripts. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Monastery churches reopened under the jurisdiction of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate.

Vydubychi print

Did you know?

  • The first monastic community on the site of the present-day monastery complex was formed in underground caves well before the official state adoption of Christianity in 988.

  • The Church of St. Michael, originally constructed in 1070-1088, is the oldest functioning church in Ukraine.

  • The Vydubychi Monastery is adjacent to the National Botanical Gardens, once the favourite hunting grounds of the Grand Princes of Kyiv and royal residence of Prince Vsevolod in the 11th century.

  • In the 13th century, the future King Danylo of Halych and Volhyn stayed at monastery on his way to meet with the Mongol khan.

  • The Vydubychi Monastery was the official seat of the first three metropolitans of the Catholic Church in Ukraine after the 1596 Union of Brest. A bell from this era was preserved in the monastery's bell tower until its destruction in the 1930s.

  • In 1695 Hetman Ivan Mazepa forbade the Vydubytskyi Monastery's neighbors to "do injustice to the monastery" and placed it under the special protection of the Starodub Regiment. Colonel Mykhailo Myklashevskyi, the commander of the Regiment, funded the construction of the Church of St. George and the Transfiguration Refectory.

  • The Vydubychi Monastery was considered as a possible gravesite for Taras Shevchenko, the great Ukrainian national poet, when he died in 1861.