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JERUSALEM: April 23, 2018
An icon of St Artemy of Verkolsk gifted to St Chariton Lavra of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem of the Russian Church Abroad

A carved icon of St Artemy of Verkolsk was given as a gift to the Skete of St Chariton in Wadi Fara, the Holy Land. The image of the saint is surrounded by images of other saints of the Pinezhsk region in Russia: St John of Kronstadt, St Sergy of Malopinezhsk, St Nikon of Optina and St Paraskeva of Pirinems. A benefactor from a parish in Pineg, Archangelsky oblast, delivered the gift during a pilgrimage.

The monastery is located in the Judean wilderness, in a valley known as Wadi Fara, and is administered by the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. The Israeli government has declared it a landmark site. The Wellspring of St Chariton originates below the lavra, which turns into a brook with crystal-clear water only a few dozen meters downstream.

The brethren of Verkolsky Monastery first visited this site over 10 years aago, when they met with His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, who at the time was Archbishop of Sydney. Three years ago, Vladyka Hilarion gave Verkolsky Monastery relics of Holy Grand Duchess Elizabeth and Nun Varvara.

St Chariton Lavra is the first monastery in the Holy Land, founded by St Chariton the Confessor in the early 4th century. The holy man survived persecution under Emperor Aurelian, and with the death of the ruler, he was released from prison. He then traveled to the holy sites of Jerusalem to venerate its relics, but on the way he was kidnapped by robbers and taken to a cave in Fara. As they shared a meal, they drank wine that had been poisoned by a snake.

Having eluded death a second time, Chariton decided to remain in the cave and serve the Lord. Word of his holy life and miracles spread and attracted disciples. The first monastery chapel was established inside the cave. The lavra’s rules were strict: prayer began at midnight and ended at noon. Food was offered once a day, and cooked food only on holidays.

After 1903, Russian monks from Mt Athos began to restore the lavra, which belongs to the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.

The monastery is located 10 km northeast from Jerusalem. There are two churches at the lavra: a lower one dedicated to St Nicholas the Miracle-worker and an upper cave church accessed by a metal stair dedicated to St Chariton himself.

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