World’s northernmost monastery under construction

The monastery's main church is built to resemble the church that stood on the same place from 1886 to WWII. Photo: Trude Pettersen

The Pechenga monastery is being rebuilt at the same place where it was founded by the monk Trifon in 1533, by the influx of the Pechenga River into the Barents Sea, 135 km west of modern Murmansk.


Since 2008 people have come from all over Russia to participate in the construction of the logged churches, houses, towers and walls that will make up the Trifon of Pechenga monastery when it is finished. The main church is nearly completed and will soon be ready for its first service, which is planned to be held in August.

Trifon was a monk from Novgorod that came to the Pechenga area to convert the local Samis to Christianity and to demonstrate how faith could flourish in the most inhospitable lands. By 1572, the Pechenga Monastery counted about 50 brethren and 200 lay followers.

Six years after St. Trifon’s death in 1583, the wooden monastery was raided and burnt down by the Swedes. The raid claimed the lives of 51 monks and 65 lay brothers, bringing the history of Trifon’s establishment to an end. 

A new monastery was built in the village of Pechenga, but the area was so sparsely settled that the Holy Synod deemed it wise to disband it in 1764.

As the Russian colonization of the Kola Peninsula accelerated in the late 19th century, the Pechenga Monastery was restored at its original location in 1886. Prior to the Russian Revolution, it consisted of the Upper Monastery, commemorating the graves of Trifon and 116 martyrs of the 1589 raid, and the new Lower Monastery, overlooking the Pechenga Bay.

The Upper Monastery was destroyed during the Second World War, while the Lower Monastery burned to the ground in 2006. The Russian church immediately decided that the church and the monastery should be rebuilt, and construction started in 2008. It was now decided that the monastery again should be located on the same place as Trifon founded it nearly 480 years ago.

A metochion of the monastery has already been built on the outskirts of Murmansk. This institution has several churches and chapels, a 150 beds shelter for homeless people and a hotel for pilgrims.

The monk monastery in Pechenga is the world’s northernmost. The world’s northernmost nun convent is also in the Barents Region, the Carmel Totus Tuus in Tromsø.