Abode at the source of the Volga River has a history. It began with the construction of stone temple in the village Volgo-Verkhovye. Under the initiative of inhabitants of the Volga river cities, seeking to mark the beginning of the spiritual significance of the Great Russian River, the stone temple began to built in the village Volgo-Verkhovye on donations .Great assistance rendered funds of the All-Russian Society of Saint Olga.
In the Ostashkov city district building committee for the construction of the temple at the source of the Volga river was set up, archimandrite of Nil’s Stolbensky Hermitage Pachomius was appointed as a chairman of the committee. On April 17, 1902, he signed a contract with the architect, a master of stone affairs from Ostashkov Ivan Nikolayevich Suravkov, who at the end of XIX - early XX century, built many churches in the Volgo-Verkhovye and stone city houses.
The stone church on the sources of the Volga river was very beautiful. The main altar - the Savior Transfiguration, the right chapel is dedicated to Saint Princess Olga, the left –to John the Baptist. Five-domed church was built in the pseudo-Russian style; the main altar was consecrated on April 23, 1920. The building project completed in 1904 by Tver architect Victor Nazarin. Survived print design drawing of the cathedral clearly indicates that the stone temple at the source of the Volga river follows the shape of Moscow Pokrovsky Cathedral in Red Square, better known as St. Basil's Cathedral (1555-1560).
The desire of repeating on sources of the Volga river Red Square’s St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow appeared no accident: it emphasized the spiritual relationship of the famous cathedral of the Russian capital with a temple at the beginning of the Great Russian River.
Project of of interior decoration of the temple is very interesting, but unfortunately, due to the revolutionary events it has not been implemented. Murals of Savior Transfiguration Cathedral dedicated to the famous and beloved Russian saint - Equal to the Apostles Princess Olga, whose grandson Prince Vladimir of Kiev baptized Rus in 988. The iconostasis was supposed to put all the faces of saints, originating from the progeny of first saint of the Russian Orthodox Church, and to observe a complete historical accuracy in the image and the stacking order godly offspring of St Russian Grand Princess.
It can be assumed that the creators of the project of painting in the Cathedral of Volgo-Verkhovye might repeat the theme "tree of Dynasty Moscow Grand Princes" provided in the wall painting the Golden Chamber and the Archangel Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin, as well as of the Holy Transfiguration Cathedral of the Novospassky Monastery in Moscow. We can say that the the Savior Transfiguration Cathedral in the sources of the Volga river was supposed to be a sacred place of remembrance of the people who brought fame to the Russian land. People's minds linked the source of the Volga river and the beginning of the Christian history of the Fatherland. Local craftsmen have erected Savior Transfiguration Cathedral. Here also bricks were produced and burned according to a local method in floor furnaces.
Undoubtedly, the construction of the shrine temple at the source of the Volga river was an important event in a spiritual life of Russia. Therefore, it becomes clear why in 1906 in the Volgo-Verkhovye women's coenobitic community gathered in the temple, which was not a monastery, and lived among other people, but respected all the rules of monastic life. In 1907, the women's community on the sources of the Volga river was approved by the Tver Consistory decree; and it was headed by "Philistine Vera." Newfound community by permission the parishioners of the village Svatovo acquired an old wooden church that was moved to Volgo-Verkhovye. Thus began a new monastery on the sources of the Volga river. At the same time on the initiative of the monastic community a building of the wooden church of St. Nicholas was started, the project was carried out by Tver architect Victor Nazarin. Local peasant Vassili Zabelkin from the village Zentsovo of Hotoshinskaya parish raised the St. Nicholas Church. It was consecrated on July 27, 1908. This tall wooden one-dome temple of kletskiy type (the same ones were presented throughout the Rus) survived to our days, and was restored at the end of 1970s.
In 1909 Volgo-Verkhovye Transfiguration community was reorganized to the coenobitic Monastery Ostashkov district of Tver diocese. Abbess Vera determined the Superior. In 1912, this abode became known as Volgoverkhovsky Olginsky coenobitic women's monastery.
In the temples of the monastery adored priests and deacons, who receive salaries from the monastery and lived in the village Volgo-Verkhovye. For example, in 1917 in the Olginskiy monastery adored Father Vasily Danilov. The priests even from remote locations Tver and Novgorod lands wanted to get in abode at the sources of the Volga river.
Life of nuns of the monastery on source of the Volga river passed in prayers and great labors. About this most clearly evidence a letter of the director of the Imperial Women's Pedagogical Institute O. Platov to Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich, dated 1912: "With my own eyes I saw worldly misery, I just know good labors and habits of sisters of the monastery. They are sorry to tears: they are sent to the new and the empty space ... they are fighting hard and could not finish their temple, living without fences and fed by the fact that they themselves will work. "
The monastery has received support from the Treasury - the land and forests, from the Assistant Dean of Tver mansions Abbot Vitaly - silver cross with the ark for the placement of particle of the holy relics of Princess Anna of Kashin, from the peasant Yefim Volgin from village Volgo-Verkhovye - land. From the archives it is known that on April 30, 1911 Abbess Vera traveled to Moscow "to take sacrifice icons."
Sisters of Olginsky convent succeeded to do much. Their abode was not only spiritual but also a cultural center on the sources of the Volga river. In the monastery was the library, its collection included, in addition to the liturgical books, historical, scientific literature and textbooks. Library was always replenished.
Nuns devoted much attention to education of peasant children. They took girls from poor families and orphans to the full content to the monastery, taught them to read, needlework and the ability to keep hard farm. When the girls grew up, they left the monastery, fully prepared for life in the world, married, and, of course, received in the abode of knowledge and skills helped them to build family relationships and raise children.
Monastic Volgo-Verkhovskaya school of literacy was opened in 1907, and in 1911 it was transformed into the parochial. Priests and nuns taught in the school. In December 1914 on the proposal of Tver Ostashkov branch of the diocesan school's board Abbess Vera of Olginsky monastery received "the honorary title of guardian of the Volgo-Verkhovsky parochial schools." In 1907 a small one-story wooden house has been built for this school. Necessary for training manuals have been provided by a school library of the monastery. Children were taught not only literacy, but also farming. In 1916 a garden was made at school.
Volgo-Verkhovsky Olginsky monastery was a small, poor, basic means of sisters gone for building. Despite this, the monastery engaged in charitable activities. In a wooden St. Nicholas Church in all the years of the existence of the monastery were collected donations for the benefit of widows and orphans from priests’ families. Volgo-Verkhovsky Monastery invested in various societies and committees: Community welfare poor foster-child, Tver diocesan female school, the Committee of the Grand Duchess Elizabeth, Water Rescue Society, the Society of Devotees of history, the Main Directorate of the Russian Red Cross Society and others.
The monastery on the sources of Volga river granted money to the construction of the temple in St. Petersburg in honor of the 300th anniversary of the reign of the Romanov dynasty; to a charitable society working towards celebration the 100th anniversary of the victory over the French in Patriotic War in 1812. In the monastery many sisters were engaged in crafts: sewing, knitting lace, made homespun linen and much more. Therefore, nuns sewed clothes for the wounded Russian soldiers in World War I for what Abbess Vera and sisters received a thank you letter from the guardian of Silver community of the Red Cross.
Undoubtedly, the prayers of Olginsky monastery nuns, their hard work and broad charity strengthened the community and helped in arrangement of their own abode. In a very short period of time excepting a stone Savior Transfiguration Cathedral, wooden St. Nicholas Church, fences, were built: a one-storey wooden refectory with a kitchen on the north side, two-storey wooden cells for abbess and sisters on the south in 1907, two-storey house for nurses and visiting pilgrims in 1910 , and nearby - the school building. In the north-eastern part of the monastery was posted farmyard, stables and sheds for cattle and carriages, wooden granary bread. In 1911 at the eastern side was built a wooden bath.
The construction has been conducted not only in the Volgo-Verkhovye, but on the land belonging to the monastery.
Sisters of the Volgo-Verkhovsky Olginsky monastery worked in farming successfully and profitable. Basic expenses were buying of products for the monastic meal. Abode acquired only the most needed.
From their income the monastery paid salaries to priests, money for the school were allocated, paid to local farmers, carrying out various work for the monastery. A separate expenditure is foreseen for charity: Help the Orthodox in the Caucasus, taxes on the distribution of Orthodoxy among the Gentiles, the All-Russian public memory of the Russian army who fell in World War I, the maintenance of the widows and orphans of the clergy, on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, to the Holy Sepulcher. Olginsky monastery received the largest revenue from the sale of livestock, as well as from the tickets of the State Commission for an indefinite capital of second 5% loan. Abode earned slightly from donations, prayers and church services, as well as from the rental of post office.
As everywhere else in Russia, everything changed after 1917 in a secluded monastery on the sources of the Volga river. Abbess and sisters of the monastery, having received the decree on the separation of church and state, and after that, in 1919, a circular explaining the procedure of this division, realized that the monastery would be ruined. But they still hoped that the coming time of troubles would pass soon; life will return to the previous track. So they decided to organize on the basis of the monastic community monastic labor commune, made up of its charter.
By 1924, the sisters have created a new agricultural Verkhnevolzhskaya artel, as evidenced by an entry in the ledger of Olginsky monastery about payment of the stamp and seal of the cooperative. And perhaps the only rigorous statistical information of the cash receipts and expenditures book sheds light on the tragic history of the monastery during the Soviet era. We can say that in 1918 the monastery was closed. The nuns continued to live in a monastery, where the first monastery labor commune was established, and later - an agricultural cooperative. Ministerial duties were held in the cathedral, but all construction works were cancelled. Was not destined to become a reality beautiful mural projects and iconography of the Transfiguration Cathedral.
Authorities confiscated at the monastery everything - land, buildings. Financial notes of the commune and the cooperative, which have been continued by the former Abbess Vera, treasurer nun Antonina, dean nun Nina, clearly indicate that the sisters have worked very hard. They kept engaging in animal husbandry, the largest revenues were from sales of livestock. At the second place - the proceeds of needlework; and a little received from the sale of seeds, hay, flax, linen, linen yarn. Fee to the needs of the church was scanty.
The monastery built in honor the holy Russian Princess Olga, the village and the whole district become empty. About the monastic buildings, school, library now possible to learn only by surviving archival material and on residues of building foundations, overgrown with grass. Big stone Transfiguration Cathedral for many years was used as a grain warehouse...
In the 1960s, when attempts were made to create Seliger health resort and tourist area, there were grand projects of formation of History and Culture Museum and Reserve at the sources of the Volga river. It supposed to carry here old wooden houses from the villages of the Upper Volga, to open a museum of the Volga river in the Transfiguration Cathedral to present all the Volga regional cities. This project was doomed to failure. Time passed inexorably ... Old men and women from Volgo-Verkhovie who still remembered the monastery, every spring, purified mainstream source of the Volga, have died. The latest grandmother, Pushkina, was moved by the children to Svapusche, a large village on the shores of Lake Seliger. The village has no children and schools. The family of Polyakova teacher left Volgo-Verkhovie, who took all those who ventured on the road, walked through the woods 25 miles to get to the source.
Yet at the end of the 1970s, the changes began quietly, secretly. Restorers came from Ostashkov to the Volgo-Verkhovye and began to clean up the monastic churches. It was a great penance: they restored Holy Transfiguration Cathedral and St. Nicholas Church by off-road. Much depended on the leading project restoration architect from the Kalinin (Tver later) restoration workshop Anatoly Kustov and a Chief of the Ostashkov restoration site Alexei Kovalev, who was born not far from the source in Zhukovo village. It became possible to bypass obstacles in the face of academic aesthetes who believed that the buildings of the early XX century had no artistic value, and therefore can not be regarded as monuments of architecture and to conduct the restoration.
Restoration of the monastic churches was conducted on the means of the Central Council of the All-Russian Society of the Protection of Monuments of History and Culture. It’s happened that the Savior Transfiguration Cathedral of the Olginsky monastery in Volgo-Verkhovye, which was built on donations from people in the early XX century, in the end of the century was revived by the voluntary contributions of millions of people who are united by this society.
Few years ago, in May, on the feast day of Saints Cyril and Methodius, the creators of the Slavic alphabet, and the feast of Slavonic literature and culture, a large delegation of scientists, public figures, and culture representatives came to Volgo-Verkhovye. The Archbishop of Tver and Kashin Victor held a service at Olginsky monastery, blessed the source of the Great Russian River, found the cross on the roof of a small chopped house, standing on the beginning of the Volga river.
Prayer on source has become a tradition, which always takes place on May 29. In1994, the first time after the closure of the Olginsky monastery on the source of the Volga river, the Archbishop of Tver Victor made a Divine Liturgy, marked the beginning of the service of the liturgy in a subsequent years. On July 9, 1995 Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexy II, who led the celebrations on the occasion of the transfer of the relics of St. Nil Stolbensky from the Ostashkov Cathedral of the Sign to the Stolobny Island, made the rank of small water blessing. The head of the Russian Orthodox Church could not fail to visit the holy and so close to Russian people place.
Nuns from Moscow occasionally began to come to the Volgo-Verkhovye, the sisters from the famous Diveevo monastery of Nizhny Novgorod, from Tver region and other regions of Russia were here. Now comes alive the shrine at the origins of the Great Russian River, and hoping for the prayers of St. Nil Stolobenskiy , a monastic life in the Upper Volga Olginskiy convent revives.