STEPKIN V.V. The History of the Creation and Semantics of the Sacred Space of Ust-Medveditskiy Convent Caves in Volgograd Region


Vitaliy V. Stepkin

Candidate of Sciences (History), History Teacher,

Pavlovsk Secondary School with Enhanced Coverage of Certain Subjects,

Prosp. Revolutsii, 15, 396420 Pavlovsk, Russian Federation

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Abstract. Introduction. The article presents the caves of Ust-Medveditsky St. Saviour convent in Volgograd region. The relevance of the research issue is in improving the recreational potential of the subject under study. The novelty of the work is in explaining the meaning of cave complex elements and the iconic stone with the image of knee and palm prints. The aim of the work is to study the history of creating the sacred space in the caves of Ust-Medveditsky convent. Herewith the work covers the following issues: 1) considering the history of creating caves by hegumeness Arseniya (Sebryakova); 2) clarification of the semantic meaning of some architectural elements in the cave complex in the context of creating the sacred space in the New Jerusalem of the Don region; 3) recommendations for developing the esthetical component of the caves, which increases the recreational potential for using the caves.

Methods. In order to achieve the goals the author uses the structuralsemantic method, which allows to reveal the meaning of separate architectural elements in the caves in the structure of the cave complex. The system-based culturological method and the historical archaeological approach are used to understand the uniqueness of the object against the historical background of the dominating culture. The sources used to fulfill the objective include material ones such as architectural elements of the caves, written ones such as piligrimages, travellers’ notes about visits to the Holy Land, the biography of hegumeness Arseniya (Sebryakova).

Analysis and Results. The caves under consideration were created in the second half of the 19th century by hegumeness Arseniya (Sebryakova). There was a sacred space of the Holy Land reconstructed: “Stations of the Cross” and “Sorrowful Way of the Holy Mother”. The stone with the image of knee and palm prints symbolizes the place where the Christ fell down after being arrested. Premise no. 8 with a step can symbolize the Holy Sepulcher with the tomb of Jesus. To improve the recreational potential of Ust- Medveditsky convent it is necessary to control microclimatic conditions, support the cave surface natural stone relief and colour, decorate the key sacred spaces with thematic icons.

Key words: caves, Russian Orthodox Church, Ust-Medveditskiy St. Saviour convent, hegumeness Arseniya (Sebryakova), Sorrowful Way, Via Dolorosa, the Edicule, New Jerusalem.

Citation. Stepkin V.V. The History of the Creation and Semantics of the Sacred Space of Ust-Medveditskiy Convent Caves in Volgograd Region. Vestnik Volgogradskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta. Seriya 4. Istoriya. Regionovedenie. Mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya [Science Journal of Volgograd State University. History. Area Studies. International Relations], 2019, vol. 24, no. 3, pp. 58-67. (in Russian). DOI:

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The History of the Creation and Semantics of the Sacred Space of Ust-Medveditskiy Convent Caves in Volgograd Region by Stepkin V.V. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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