New Valamo

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New Valaam was also the name of a hermitage on Spruce Island, Alaska.
New Valamo monastery today.
Inside the main church at New Valamo.

New Valamo or New Valaam (Finnish: Valamon luostari, or more informally, esp. in the postal address: Uusi-Valamo) is an Orthodox monastery in Heinävesi, Finland. The monastery was established in its present location in 1940.

The relocation of the monastery[edit]

In 1939, during the Winter War, some 190 monks from the Valamo Monastery in Karelia were evacuated from their old abode on a group of islands in Lake Ladoga in the Viipuri Province to present Eastern Finland. The old Valamo Monastery was occupied by the armed forces of the Soviet Union quite soon after the outbreak of the Winter War.

After a temporary dwelling place the monks decided to settle down in Heinävesi in Eastern Finland. The choice fell on a mansion in Papinniemi, Heinävesi, after the monks had found there, quite surprisingly, an icon of St. Sergius and St. Herman of Valaam, the founders of the monastery in the 12th century. The monks considered this to be a sign from God.[1][2] Having received evacuees from the Konevsky (Konevitsa) and Pechenga (Petsamo) monasteries, it is now the only monastery for men of the Finnish Orthodox Church.[3]

Recent developments[edit]

Archimandrite Sergei is discharged and reinstated as head of the monastery[edit]

Archbishop Leo of Karelia and All Finland discharged Igumen Sergei from the position of the leader of the monastery in November 2011. The background of this action was the long-standing disagreements of Fr. Sergei and the financial director of the monastery, Mr. Veikko Halonen. These two men had been said to have been in a “collision course.” At the time of these events, the monastery was 800,000 Euros in debt, and the economy had shown losses for the past several years.[4]

Archbishop Leo had told the igumen that the monastery should continue in dual leadership, but Fr. Sergei did not agree to this and fired Mr. Halonen. After this the archbishop made his own decision and fired Fr. Sergei and reinstated Mr. Halonen. Bishop Arseni of Joensuu was appointed as temporary head of the monastery.[4][5]

According to Arseni, this arrangement was to be a temporary one, and in time there would have been a vote of the leader within the brotherhood. However, it would have taken months or even years before this would have happen.[4]

There are various opinions about these developments, and especially in the internet. Soon after Igumen Sergei was discharged, four members of the brethren announced in the monastery website that they back the decisions of Archbishop Leo. A dissenting voice was made public by a certain member of the board of Friends of Valamo, who founded an internet address in support of the reinstating of Fr. Sergei. With the instructions of the board of the monastery, Bishop Arseni let this person know that she is not welcome to the monastery for the next three years.[4][6] It is said that even within the monastery there are dissenting views about these events.[5]

In late November 2012 Archbishop Leo reinstated Archimandrite Sergei as the head of the monastery. This happened because the Finnish Assistant Chancellor of Justice had cautioned the Archbishop, saying that the latter had committed a misconduct in his office when he discharged Archimandrite Sergei from his position. According to the law on the Orthodox Church in Finland and according to the administrative orders of the church it is not possible to discharge the head of a monastery. According to the Archbishop, the church will now take action in order to resolve the inconsistencies between the law on the Orthodox Church and the administrative principles of the monasteries.[7][8] The synod of the church is contemplating a change in the law, which would allow for a head of a monastery to be discharged. The synod is now waiting for comments on all parties that would be affected by the new law.[9]

In late February, 2013, the board of directors of the monastery unanimously decided to terminate the employment contract of the financial director of the monastery, Mr. Veikko Halonen. The grounds they gave was that the economic restructuring programme of the monastery had failed. The programme has started in the autumn of 2010, and since then the losses of the monastery had amounted to 300,000 Euros per year. The restructuring will be continued by a working group, which consists of the head of the monastery, the new financial director and the principal of the Valamo Institute.[10]

2012 Fire[edit]

Deanery after the fire

In March 2012, there was a fire in the old main building of Papinniemi estate, which also served as the first main building of the monastery. The building had been built in 1840. The attic of the building was destroyed in the fire. It had been used as a storage space, and there were no valuables in it. All the valuable artefacts from the lower floors had been successfully removed during the fire, with the exception of the furniture.[11] The furnaces of the building has been in poor condition, and their use had been prohibited for several years. However, one of the furnaces had been used for heating, and in a police investigation it was found that the fire had started from the cracks of the chimney. A couple of foreign extraction, who had been living in the building, were prosecuted in the Southern Savo Local Court. The court did not find sufficient evidence to back the claim that the furnace had been used for heating. The case was tried in December 2012.

The damages of the monastery amounted up to 1,6 million Euros. The State of Finland was ordered to pay some of the expenses of the man who had been accused of causing the fire.[12][13]

Other Orthodox monastic communities in Finland[edit]

The Finnish Orthodox Church has also a monastery for women, Lintula Holy Trinity Convent, which is situated 18 kilometres (11 mi) from New Valamo, in Palokki, Heinävesi.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Ortodoksinen kirkko Suomessa"( The Orthodox Church in Finland) (ed. by Fr. Ambrosius and Markku Haapio) (1979) p. 287
  2. ^ "Orthodoxy in Finland, Past and present (ed. by V. Purmonen)(1984) p.41
  3. ^ "Orthodoxy in Finland, Past and present" (ed. V. Purmonen) (1984) pp. 41–42
  4. ^ a b c d Keskiaho, Saila (15 Feb 2011). "Valamo etsii suuntaansa kriisin jälkeen (‘Valamo is looking for a new direction after a crisis’)". Kirkko ja kaupunki (‘Church and the City’) (6/2012) (The Parish Union of Helsinki). pp. 4–5. 
  5. ^ a b "Erottaminen herättää keskustelua (‘Sacking causes a debate’)". YLE uutiset. 
  6. ^ "Vetoomus am. Sergein palauttamiseksi Valamon luostarin johtajaksi (‘Petition to reinstate Archimandrite Sergei as the head of the Valamo Monastery’)". 
  7. ^ STT (November 23, 2012). "Valamon entinen johtaja palautettiin virkaansa (‘The former head of the Valamo monastery reinstated’)". Helsingin Sanomat. p. A 4. 
  8. ^ STT (November 23, 2012). "Valamon entinen johtaja palautettiin virkaansa (‘The former head of the Valamo monastery reinstated’)". Helsingin Sanomat. Retrieved 2012-11-24. 
  9. ^ STT (20 Nov 2012). "Ortodoksit pohtivat vielä lakia luostarin johtajan erottamisesta". Helsingin Sanomat (in Finnish). p. A8. 
  10. ^ "Valamon luostari irtisanoo johtajan (‘The Valamo monastery dismisses an executive’)". Helsingin Sanomat. 2013-02-13. pp. A 14. 
  11. ^ "Valamossa satojen tuhansien vahingot — taideaarteet saatiin pelastettua" [Losses worth several thousand Euros in Valamo — valuable works of art were saved.]. YLE uutiset Etelä-Savo. 2012-03-19. Retrieved 2012-03-19. 
  12. ^ "Valamon luostarin tulipalo käräjille" [Valamo monastery fire goes to the local court]. YLE uutiset Etelä-Savo. 23 July 2012. Retrieved 24 August 2012. 
  13. ^ Viljakka, Vuokko (2012-12-05). "Syytteet Valamon tulipalosta hylättiin" [Charges dismissed in the case of the Valamo monastery fire]. (Savon Sanomat). Retrieved 2013-03-29. 
  14. ^ "Lintulan Kroniikka" (The Cronicle of Lintula ) edited by Archmandrite Panteleimon (1992) p. 96

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 62°33′47″N 028°47′26″E / 62.56306°N 28.79056°E / 62.56306; 28.79056