Photo: – 25/6/18

Thousands of church and monastery buildings were confiscated and repurposed by the government throughout the USSR. Since its fall, the process of returning those buildings to their rightful owner—the Russian Orthodox Church—has been ongoing.

The latest development in this process comes from late last month, when the Moscow Department of Municipal Property issued an order, dated May 28, transferring the ownership of nine buildings historically belonging to the Conception Convent back to the Russian Orthodox Church, reports the Church’s wesbite.

The monastery, located near Christ the Savior Cathedral, was founded by St. Alexis of Moscow in 1360 in honor of the Conception of St. Anne, the mother of the Theotokos. Notable inhabitants have included the metropolitan’s own sisters Eupraxia and Juliana, both of whom were canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church in 2001. The holy habitation was closed by the Bolsheviks in 1918 and reopened in 1995, and is now adorned with a number of beautiful churches, filled with the glorious singing of the sisters and a high-quality mixture of Byzantine and Russian-style iconography.

Among the buildings recently returned is the oldest church of the monastery preserved until our times—the Gate Church of the All-Merciful Savior, built in 1696. The church underwent several renovations throughout the centuries, and was closed in 1926, being used the Academy of the Sciences. The church was returned to the faithful in 1993, and the revival of monastic life began. A new iconostasis was installed in 2013.

Also returned are the abbess’ residency, built in the late 17th century; three buildings for sisters’ residency from the 19th century; two refectories, one from the 19th and one from the 20th centuries; a building used for economic needs; and the one-altar, one-dome Church of the Descent of the Holy Spirit. This church had been closed in the 1920s.