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Old church, Valamo monasteryOur first stop as we walked the grounds of the monastery was the old Church.  It’s named that because it was the first church on the grounds. The monks made it into a church after they arrived.

Old church, Valamo monasteryThe interior of the church is pretty much preserved as it was – mostly because the church is still used – but only in the summer.  There is no longer any heating for the building.  When we were there in February, it was cold outside.  That meant it was cold inside too.

The relics weather this cold just fine because the relics are all made from natural products and so they adjust to the temperature well.

Old church, Valamo monasteryWhile I don’t remember the name of the relic, the one in the middle of the picture is the patron relic for the monastery.  It’s bright and vibrant and beautiful.

Old church, Valamo monasteryThe picture above shows the original Valamo monastery with Sts. Sergius and Herman, who founded the monastery in the 10th century (well, there actually debate about the year of founding – anywhere from the 10th to the 15th centuries, but I’m going with the what the vice abbot of the monastery told me).

One of the neat things about the old church is a side room that is preserved to show the living conditions of the monks.  In this room there is this wonderful piece of religious clothing.

Old church, Valamo monasteryThis would have been worn by a monk who had achieved the highest order within the order.  The vice abbot told us that it was rare for anyone to ever reach this level.

I take a break from posting next week – I’ll be traveling again.  This time to Germany.  Have no fear, there will be pictures at some point.  When I return, we’ll continue with pictures from the trip to Joensuu.  Next post will be the new church.