NLR Literary Landmarks

About the Project

The Solovetsky Monastery Library is one of few book collections of Russian monasteries that have survived intact. The library dates back to the late 15th century and is associated with the educational activities of Hegumen Dositheos.

A gifted writer and book lover, he was close to a circle of translators and book authors who created the first complete Bible in Old Slavonic. So called Gennady's Bible was produced in 1499 on behalf of Archbishop Gennady of Novgorod the Great. In Novgorod, Dositheos ordered several dozen handwritten books on a variety of subjects for the Solovetsky Monastery. This rich donation became the cornerstone of the Solovetsky Library. By the middle of the 19th century, it included more than one and a half thousand handwritten books.

Since 1928, the manuscript collection of the Solovetsky Monastery has been housed in the National Library of Russia. This online resource presents the most valuable manuscripts in historical, literary and artistic terms. Among them are 23 handwritten books that once belonged to Dositheos; manuscripts containing rare autographs of ancient Russian scribes (Hermolaus-Erasmus, Sergius Shelonin); book donations to the monastery, made by prominent state and church figures; vocal music manuscripts reflecting the original singing tradition of the Solovetsky Monastery, etc. They are still part of the Solovetsky collection. Many of these Old Russian manuscripts have a special label with which Dositheus marked his books – this is the first Russian bookplate.

A digital version of the famous Solovetsky Library provides wide access to the study of the precious handwritten heritage of Russia. The resource will be added with the most valuable manuscripts from the Solovetsky collection.