The Root Desert

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The Monastery of the Nativity of the Virgin, known as the Root Desert, is one of the first monasteries in the land of Kursk. In importance in the Orthodox world, it is compared with the Diveevo monastery in the Nizhny Novgorod region and with the Trinity-Sergio Lavra. “Root”: because deserts were built in honor of the Icon of the root of Our Lady of the “Sign”. According to legend, this icon in the thirteenth century was found in the roots of an elm, a hunter who passes through the local forest. The monastery was founded on the site of the icon two centuries after the event.

More precisely, the monastery was built near the acquisition site, on the right bank of the Tuskar River, on a hill. The place itself denotes the so-called “Church of the Mother of God“ Fountain that gives life. ”It is believed that when the hunter raised the icon, a spring with healing water clogged from the ground at the roots of the tree. church on the spring, within which the roots of the legendary elm were preserved.The spring was taken from the church; on the banks of the Tuskari there was a wooden bath house.This fountain is the main, but not the only one. springs around the monastery, and are also revered by believers. In the Soviet years, this veneration was officially banned as obscurantist and harmful to the environment. Ostensibly, pilgrims polluted the shallow Tuskar, in which the waters of the Springs The bans did not help.

Administratively, the monastery belongs to the town of Liberty. Around there is a forest, blue domes with golden domes rise above the trees, the stairs lead from the hill to the hill, the monastery buildings descend to the river with smooth ledges. Very picturesque and elegant. There was a time when Ilya Repin appreciated the picturesque character of the desert of roots. It is true that in his painting “Religious Procession in Kursk Province”, the multitude of pilgrims of various colors on a dusty road does not look so friendly.


In the territory of the monastery, the usual rules must be observed: do not wear open clothing, short skirts and shorts, women should cover their heads and men, and vice versa. No Smoking

The bathroom is divided into female and male halves. The towel should be taken with you and immerse yourself only in clothing (recommended in a new shirt), with a cross on the neck.


The monastery is still being rebuilt, but it is already very deified. In addition to the temples, you can see two monuments in the territory: a sculptural composition dedicated to the acquisition of the icon and a monument to Seraphim of Sarov by Vyacheslav Klykov. Sarov’s seraphim were not only in the desert, but, according to legend, were healed by the miraculous icon of the Mother of God “The Sign.” In the 1990s, after the decision to recreate the monastery, a monastery of Serafim Sarovsky was built with a chapel one kilometer from the root desert.

In the temple of the Icon of Our Lady of the Fountain of Life, if it is open, it is worth paying attention to the iconostasis of painted earthenware. It was created and installed in 2012 by Yekaterinburg teachers.

There are sixteen springs in the Root Desert, and each of them has special healing properties. All springs go to Tuskar, so those who wish to improve their health and recover immediately simply submerge themselves in the river.

A stone’s throw from the monastery is the Historic, Cultural and Pilgrimage Center “Root Desert”, where there is a hotel. The private Grin Inner Inn is nearby, but staying there is more expensive.

Near the desert, in the former territory of the monastery, is the historical and memorial museum “Command post of the Central Front”. From here, Marshal Rokossovsky ordered the start of the operation in the Kursk Bulge.

The acquisition of the Kursk root icon of the Mother of God “The Sign” is celebrated on September 21 (8 according to the article).


The history of the monastery on the right bank of the Tuskar River is inextricably linked to the history of the Kursk icon of the Mother of God “The sign”. The sign (Oranta) is a special type of icon in which the Virgin is represented praying, with raised hands and with the Christ child in a medallion on the chest, in the womb.

At the beginning of the 18th century, a hostel was organized in the monastery, and instead of a wooden Christmas church, a two-story stone church was erected. In 1708, the Holy Doors were built with a bell tower over them. In 1713, the Church of the Icon of the Mother of God of the Source of Life was placed on the place of the icon. In 1797, the Blessed Church was founded. Almost at the same time, two living rooms were built behind the monastery.

By the end of the 18th century, the monastery was fully equipped, there were abbot and fraternal cells on two floors, a large garden grew. In addition, Emperor Paul I granted the cloister of land and a mill in the town of Dolgom. In the early nineteenth century, about thirty monks lived in the root desert.

The stone meetings from the upper monastery square to the Spring Church that gives life were built in the 1930s. In the middle of the century, in the desert, on the site of the ruined church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the architect Konstantin Ton placed a new cathedral. It was completed in 1860.

As for the root icon, they not only revered it, but once they even tried to exploit it. In 1898, Kursk’s self-taught revolutionaries put explosives underneath. The explosion affected the wall, the marble steps, the canopy over the image, but the icon miraculously survived.

After the revolution, the icon was taken out of Russia, and the monastery was systematically looted. The temples were destroyed, the Freedom sanitarium was opened in the territory. After the Great Patriotic War, a craft school and then an agricultural school were placed in the fraternal body. During Khrushchev’s anti-religious campaign, the source tried unsuccessfully to specify, access to the springs was prohibited. However, the pilgrimage did not stop until 1989, when it was decided to restore the radical desert.


From Kursk train station, take any minibus that goes to the Dubrovinsky stop, from where the gazelles leave for the desert every 15 minutes to the town of Liberty. Leave after about 30-40 minutes (it is better to ask the driver for a stop).

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