Holy Myrrhbearers Monastery, Otego NY

img_1160Founded in 1977, Holy Myrrhbearers is a monastic community for women of the Orthodox Church in America, situated since 1983 in the scenic upper-Catskill region of New York State.

See also:

From the monastery’s Typicon:  

Inspired by the desert mothers and fathers, we model our lives as fully as possible on their life and witness, their martyria.  We are called to be Orthodox Christian monastics in our own time and place as surely as they were.  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.  We are aware that the world around us is very different from the one they knew.  We have the responsibility to balance our obligations to this world of noise and technology with our calling to choose to grow into the greater silence and simplicity of their lives…

“Within the monastery’s framework of daily liturgical and personal prayer, we work as farmers, artists and craftsmen.  We offer the result of our own labors… plus a few selected items that are not products of our monastery or farm, such as embroideries from Palestine and recordings of liturgical music through our Online Catalog.

My heartfelt thanks to Mother Abbess Raphaela, Mother Michaela, and the entire sisterhood, for their kind and welcoming hospitality, and a warm and transformative stay.

There is something quietly compelling about Holy Myrrhbearers Monastery. The stillness, remoteness, and feel of a ‘working farm’, and the warm wood tones of their beautiful chapel, combine with a gentle hospitality to introduce the pilgrim to the Holy Myrrhbearers’ quiet Way, and one soon feels simply and gratefully at peace.

The Guest House, from the dam at the end of the lake. Notice the upper and lower porches.

The charming guest house by the lake likewise serves as a real haven from the noise and chaos of the world. Quiet mornings, perhaps with a cup of coffee on the porch looking out over the water, or reading at the breakfast table or living room, produce an enlivening stillness, and renewed clarity of thought. An ample library, and beautiful icons throughout the house, complete the effect.

The dining room in the guest house, with sliding glass door opening onto the wrap-around porch overlooking the lake.

A seemingly obvious recommendation for pilgrims is to plan to arrive at the monasteries during daylight hours. I have now successfully found my way to St Tikhon’s, Hermitage of the Holy Cross, and Holy Myrrhbearers in the dark, but for obvious navigation reasons I don’t recommend it. Plus it is far more considerate and polite to arrive before Vespers. But sometimes one is unavoidably delayed, whether by car problems, traffic, or weather.

Please keep in mind that these are what I call “Quick Edits.” I will return to these images again and again in the months ahead, and will strive to present the best of them in a way which most closely presents what I actually saw, what inspired me to photograph it, with all the subtle interplay of light and life, of faith and stillness.

But for now, enjoy this collection of images of this sacred space, Holy Myrrhbearers Monastery:

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The next several images are a “walk through” to the Monastery Chapel, from the exo-narthex (vestibule), to the paradise-like south-facing hall, to the ringing of the monastery bells for the call to worship, and then some images of the divine services.

Be still, and know…

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Centrally located in the main monastery building, and near the chapel, are the meeting room for guests, the office, and the trapeza. A hand loom greets visitors. The nuns make prayer ropes, rugs, and other items using wool from their sheep.

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The nuns rejoice at a delivery of supplies… a gift from a parish in Albany.


Special guests came to meet the photographer – a momma and her baby. We had a delightful visit before they returned to their comfy surroundings:

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Views of the guest house and the lake, and the ducks and their protector, a noble goose:

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More views of the nuns at services, making prayer ropes…

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