Abbot of Valaam opened to tourists: "for comfort, pineapples were grown"

Abbot of Valaam opened to tourists: "for comfort, pineapples were grown"
MOSCOW, July 16-RIA Novosti, Artem Budyonny. The Valaam monastery was one of the first to close to pilgrims and tourists due to the coronavirus pandemic this spring. And on Thursday, Valaam, its main Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Saviour and the Central manor again opened its doors to visitors to the island. Bishop Pankratiy, Abbot of the Valaam monastery, told RIA Novosti about whether pilgrims will be able to get to the service, where volunteers are quarantined, and what gastronomic innovations "North Athos" is preparing this year. Artem Budyonny Was Talking.- Bishop pankratii, what programs are available for tourists and pilgrims on Valaam since July 16?Valaam is only accessible to organized groups of pilgrims and tourists, regardless of whether they are staying on a cruise ship or a monastic fleet. All of them can now visit the Central estate, where the main monastic Church - the Transfiguration Cathedral-and skeets are located. But individual pilgrims and tourists with tents are not allowed to enter the island yet.In June, only tourists from cruise ships passing through Ladoga visited the island. They had access to the Western part of the archipelago: excursions "Skits of Valaam", "Rocky coast", and in the Central estate conducted excursions only by water (ships entered the monastery Bay). Tours on cruise ships are expensive, and most of the funds go to tour operators.Therefore, we have resumed cheaper and more popular tours of the monastery service "Valaam pilgrim". Our fleet sails from Sortavala and Priozersk. This is also faster than a cruise: in summer, when the lake is visited by Meteors, the road from St. Petersburg to Valaam via Priozersk takes only three hours.But now only one-day tours are available, because we do not yet have the opportunity to receive pilgrims and tourists in the monastery hotels. The new " Winter hotel "has not yet been put into operation, and all visitors to Valaam, except for tourists and local residents, are being" observed " in the other hotels. Workers, volunteers, employees of the monastery, the brethren-10-15 days are on self-isolation, immediately pass tests for coronavirus, and only after that they are allowed to communicate with the resident of the monastery. This is done as a precaution.- Does the island location of the monastery require special precautions?The island is like an ocean liner. If a sick person comes here, we all get infected quickly. And among the monks-a lot of people from the "risk group": the elderly, with chronic diseases. Therefore, almost immediately after the outbreak of the epidemic – on March 17 - we closed to pilgrims, tourists and workers, and also introduced a quarantine for those who come. The restrictions did not affect only local residents and those who work on the island in shifts: power engineers, police, and firefighters. We also organized additional sanitary treatment of ships, and medical workers measured the temperature of visitors. And these measures were effective."Any cases?"During the epidemic, there were no cases of coronavirus infection on the island. - Do tourists also need to be isolated, take tests, wear masks, gloves? - Tourists and pilgrims do not need to be isolated and pass tests for coronavirus. They come without an overnight stay and spend most of their time outdoors. They will enter the temples in masks, organized groups, with a guide. Tourist groups will be small-no more than 20 people - in accordance with the norms that are accepted in Karelia. Following the recommendations of the regional Rospotrebnadzor, we also disinfect all surfaces in temples, refectory, and monastery courts, so pilgrims do not need to wear gloves.Unfortunately, pilgrims will not be able to attend services, confess and receive communion, as well as venerate the relics and icons.- When will pilgrims be able to visit Balaam without these restrictions?Pilgrims will be able to fully come to the island when the situation improves and the Rospotrebnadzor removes all restrictions. We follow the rules that have been adopted in the Republic of Karelia. We do not make forecasts: suddenly there will be a "second wave" of the epidemic...- Will the annual music festival "Enlightener" take place this year? This year there will be no festival "Enlightener". This is impossible: how will we invite foreigners? This year, the visit of Patriarch Kirill did not even take place (which took place annually on the day of memory of the venerable Sergius and Herman of Valaam – ed.). - is it Necessary and how, in Your opinion, to develop tourism on Valaam?Now for the remaining time of the pilgrimage season, we need to restore what we had before the epidemic. During the months of the pandemic, normal life in the monastery was disrupted. On the one hand, it is good: we were in solitude, in prayer. On the other hand, we can not completely abandon the pilgrimage, visitors, guests, depriving people of the opportunity to visit Balaam.Therefore, as soon as the situation allowed, we opened to the pilgrims.- How many pilgrims and tourists usually visit the island? Is the monastery threatened by an excessive number of them?There is no such threat. The geography of the island itself imposes restrictions on the tourist flow. Technically, more than five large motor ships can not stand at the berth at the same time. Every year, the island is visited by 100-120 thousand tourists and pilgrims – and this figure does not change. There are small fluctuations, but it depends on the economic situation in the country. For example, we noticed that the flow of tourists decreased in 2019.- What innovations, besides the mask mode, are expected for pilgrims and volunteers this season?The main innovation – we have repaired the "Winter hotel"at the expense of benefactors. Now it is a modern hotel with room facilities. It will also be equipped with a spiritual and educational center, a Museum of modern icons, an icon painting workshop, where they will give master classes for beginners, a singing school and a conference hall will also be opened. Now the building is being equipped with furniture and equipment. We hope to open it in September."The ship that had the cheapest rooms was towed off the island. Will there be a new "Winter hotel" is available for pilgrims with a small income?We will regulate this issue. The "Winter hotel" will have rooms available for people with different incomes.You can also come as a volunteer – then accommodation and food will be at the expense of the monastery. The number of volunteers is increasing, we are preparing more places for them and improving their conditions of stay. They live in a workhouse, which is currently being renovated: there will be a very good hostel with a shower and other amenities.- Who are your volunteers and what do they do?Volunteers - mostly young people-learn about Orthodoxy, and some are baptized. Part of the time they are free to participate in the service. We organize excursions, meetings, and lectures for them. They get acquainted, then Orthodox families appear.Volunteers work five or six days a week: help in the garden, on the farm."What do they grow in the monastery now?" They say you can even try pineapples?Exotics are there, but the economy is not for her sake. First of all, we grow what is necessary for the farm – feed. In greenhouses, we grow herbs, cucumbers, tomatoes - on the table of the brotherhood. We have orchards – apples and other fruits. Father Gregory-an Armenian-grew grapes in the open ground. In harvest years, we eat. Pineapples were grown for comfort.Dairy products, eggs, fish-everything is ours. We also bake our own bread. However, tourists are not fed monastic products in the dining room, because there is not enough for everyone. But the same Valaam cheeses and fish can be bought in shops on the island. "Is all this available only on the island?"Recently, thanks to the help of philanthropists, we have restored the trout farm. Previously, fish went to the table of the brotherhood or was sold on the island. The next stage is processing. We want to deliver smoked and salted trout (Packed in accordance with sanitary standards) to St. Petersburg or Moscow.We are also engaged in restoring the apiary. The first honey was in 2019. In a few years, I think, there will be a large apiary, and we will start implementing it: honey in small batches will most likely go to the courtyards of the Valaam monastery in Moscow and St. Petersburg. I personally participate in this work, because I really like the life of bees, it is like a monastery: everyone is busy with their own business, there is mutual help, hierarchy, friendly work.
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