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Mikhailova L.V. BIBLICAL NAMES IN SACRAL SPACE OF RUSSIAN NORTH / L.V. Mikhailova // Russian Linguistic Bulletin. — 2020. — № 4 (24). — С. 105—110. — URL: (дата обращения: 26.10.2021. ).
Mikhailova L.V. BIBLICAL NAMES IN SACRAL SPACE OF RUSSIAN NORTH / L.V. Mikhailova // Russian Linguistic Bulletin. — 2020. — № 4 (24). — С. 105—110.


Михайлова Л.В.1
1Кандидат философских наук, доцент, Петрозаводский государственный университет, Петрозаводск, Россия
В данной статье исследован процесс иеротопии библейских названий объектов, расположенных в сакральном пространстве Русского Севера. Актуальность исследования связана с возрастающим интересом к культурному наследию Валаамского и Соловецкого монастырей, часть которого cоставляют топонимы – названия объектов окружающего ландшафта, сохранившие память о прошлом и являющиеся связующим звеном с настоящим возродившихся монастырей. Целью данной статьи является изучение объектов Валаамского и Соловецкого архипелагов, имеющих библейские названия. Задачи исследования – выявить и классифицировать топонимы, основанные на библейской и православной лексике.
Ключевые слова: Новый Иерусалим, Русский Север, Валаам, Соловки, монастырь, иеротопия, топоним, библейский.
Страницы: 105 - 110

Mikhailova L.V.1
1PhD in Philosophy, Assistant Professor, Petrozavodsk State University, Petrozavodsk, Russia
This article explores the process of biblical names hierotopy of the objects located in sacral space of Russian North. The research is connected with the increasing interest to the cultural heritage of Valaam and Solovki monasteries, part of that is formed by toponyms – names of objects of surrounding landscape, saving memory about the past and being an interlink with the present of regenerating monasteries. The aim of this article is to study the objects of Valaam and Solovki archipelagos having the biblical names. The research tasks are meant to identify and classify the toponyms based on a biblical and Orthodox vocabulary.
Keywords: New Jerusalem, Russian North, Valaam, Solovki, monastery, hierotopy, toponym, biblical.
Pages: 105 - 110
Почта авторов / Author Email: larisa.mihailova[at]


The category of hierotopy, creation of sacral spaces, is explained comparatively recently by A.M. Lidov: “For the first time transferring of sacred spaces becomes focus of these collected studies and is acknowledged as the most important factor that influenced development of the Christian culture” [3, P. 9]. According to statement of A.M. Lidov, hierotopical approach allowed to realize that transference of sacral spaces, creation of New Jerusalems and characters of Saint Earth, was the major direction of the medieval spiritual life: “Hierotopical approach led us to awareness of the fact that translation of sacred spaces, creation of New Jerusalems and images of the Holy Land were highly significant aspects of the mediaeval culture. In our opinion, it is precisely these factors that formed the pivot of spiritual life in Middle Ages. In its turn, this type of spirituality generated various forms of liturgical and artistic creativity, and namely: architectural monuments, iconographic programs, liturgical objects as well as the introduction of new church rites, light effects, olfactory elements or even literary texts” [3, P. 9].

Florin Curta1, Gregory Leighton use the links between the iconography of the image, its popularity in late medieval Germany and the events surrounding the Heinrich von Plauen’s tenure as Grand Master and they suggest the reasons for which Heinrich chose the image to decorate his private quarters in the castle. It concludes by demonstrating that the image of St. Christopher at Lochstedt serves as a rare example of the creation of private sacred spaces in Late Medieval Prussia. The fresco is analyzed within the context of Alexei Lidov’s theory of hierotopy (the creation of sacred spaces) [12, P. 127]. According to authors “the presence of the image of St Christopher may be explained in two ways. First, the saint was regarded as embodying the Order’s mission, which made possible his association with the other images in the room. Second, he was most likely depicted on the walls of the room as a mirror and reminder for the patron, prompting him to move toward personal salvation and a proper master. The latter explanation gains strength if one accepts the dating of the murals to Heinrich’s second stay at Lochstedt, during the last years of his life” [12, P. 151].

A. Simsky discusses the concept of ‘image-paradigms’ as multimodal units of meaning within sacred spaces, or as compound mental constructs combining together dogmatic ideas, imagery and holistic emotive components (so-called atmospheres). [14, P. 9]. He considers that “one way to explain hierotopy is to contrast it to pre-existing methodologies, which Lidov repeatedly and collectively refers to as ‘positivistic’. According to this particular explanation, previous generations of art historians conceived of sacred art in terms of flat pictures, images or isolated artifacts, while the true way of looking at things required that one conceives of a spatial whole into which these various bits and pieces would be integrated. Such a simplified picture does well to capture the core idea of hierotopy, but the processes involved in its conception and birth into the matrix of preceding iconological thought (which of course continued to develop along its own lines and included the evolution of the iconological work of Lidov himself) remains out of sight” [14, P. 11].

Jerusalem is this place, where the last week of earthly life of Jesus Christ passed. In opinion of Petre Guran, “the ancient idea of a sacred center of the world was incorporated into a new Christian view of topographical sacredness, expressed in St. John’s notion of Heavenly Jerusalem in the Apocalypse. This Christian interpretation worked in a double sense. On the one hand it liberated the Christian community from the bounds of a unique earthly worship center, Jerusalem, as the new one was spiritual and thus ubiquitous, but on the other hand it conferred Jerusalem a central significance in the new religion. More precisely, the concept of New Jerusalem passed through that of Heavenly Jerusalem. If the Heavenly Jerusalem dwells mystically in a new place, it bestows upon that place the symbolic role of New Jerusalem. The Heavenly Jerusalem is the mould for all subsequent New Jerusalems” [1, P. 44].

Research of sacral space of Russian North is based on the study of the biblical names of objects of Valaam and Solovki archipelagos. To that end plenty of the archived materials, maps and other sources were studied by us. In 2000-2018 we conducted the field researches of cultural landscape of islands of the Valaam and Solovetsky archipelagos.

The results of the study are partially published in the monographs "The Transfiguration of the Russian North" [8], “Valaam: Grad Zemnoi – Grad Nebesnyi” [6], scientific articles. Maps of islands of the Valaam archipelago with the names of objects in Russian, Karelian, Finnish, Swedish, English, German languages, and also with the biblical names were created and published [5], [7].

Research methods

The research methodology of such definitions as toponym, Orthodox, biblical, cross, temple, a chapel is based on the realization of linguistic analysis, use of different forms of classification, methods of collection and analysis of toponyms. As a research result lists of toponyms, including the biblical names of the objects of islands of Valaam and Solovki archipelagos were created.


On the island of Valaam one can see the Jerusalem Model. Kathleen M. Kenyon, who took part in the campaign of excavations, writes that Jerusalem today consists of an Old City and two new cities. The Old City is the lineal descendant of the medieval city, preserving many of its features. The central valley divides the site of Jerusalem into two ridges. The eastern ridge is bounded on the east by the valley today called Silwan, or Siloam, the ancient Kedron [13, P. 12–13].

The research of biblical names hierotopy of Russian North is based on the study of the objects of the islands of Valaam and Solovki archipelagos. In opinion of Ju. A. Lotman, "in the medieval system of thinking category of earthly life is appreciated – it resists to life celestial. Therefore earth as a geographical concept is simultaneously perceived as a place of earthly life ("earth – sky" is included in opposition) and, consequently, not the peculiar to gets the modern geographical concepts religiously-moral value" [4, P. 407].

To sacral geography of islands of Solovki and Valaam archipelagos belong mountains: Eleon (Mount of Olives), Zion, Favor (Mount Tabor) (island Valaam); lakes: Saint (Large Solovki island), Dead Sea (Valaam), channels: Cedron (Kedron stream), Jordan (Valaam) and others [5].

We will consider the map of Valaam from that two overpeering points, Mount Zion in the west and Mount Favor (Mount Tabor) in the east, organizing sacral space of the located objects with biblical names: Eleon (Mount of Olives), Valley of Iosafat, Jordan and others. This space occupies central part of Valaam island and is its sacral text, the biblical names – toponyms behave as the basic signs of that. They make the semantic groups of different texts tied to the certain objects of Valaam (see Figure 1).


Figure 1. – New Jerusalem on Valaam

In the Monastery bay on Mount Favor the central complex of the Orthodox Valaam Monastery of the Transfiguration of Christ is situated. In the Large Nichon bay on Mount Zion one can see the ensemble of Resurrection skete with a main temple – New Jerusalem. It was created by analogy with the temple of Resurrection of Christ in Jerusalem. “Since Josephus called the western ridge Mount Zion, it was at first believed that the original settlement was there.” [13, P. 14].

The name Eleon (Mount of Olives) came from the biblical history. We can read in Bible that Zion was the main shelter of Our Lord: “For the Lord hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation. This is my rest for ever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it.” [15, P. 648]. According to D. Popović, the “three mystical caves” enjoyed a special status, those in Bethlehem, Jerusalem and on the nearby Mount of Olives. This sacred “triad of caves”, memoriae to Christ’s birth, burial and ascension, distinctively reflected the very essence of Christian faith [9, p. 153]. Popović considers, that a symbol of particular power and aura among them was the holy mount of Zion, David’s city. It contained many allusions to the life of Christ such as the Last Supper, and Christ’s trial before Caiaphas, is believed to have taken place somewhere there [9, p. 154].

As we see on the map of Valaam, western and east points of island, mountains Zion and Favor, connects the Monastery road along that objects with the biblical names are located (see Figure 1). In turn waterways, canals, divide sacral space by the areas of different texts, saving information about the closing dates of life of Jesus Christ.


Figure 2. – Valaam. Jordan River (canal)

So the Jordan River (see Figure 2), where, according to the Bible, the baptism of Jesus Christ took place, separates on Valaam the sacred space of Mount Favor, where Jesus Christ prayed shortly before his suffering and was transformed, from the sacred space of the Garden of Gethsemane, where he prayed "for the cup" before the crucifixion: “O my Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou  wilt” [15, P. 980]. Therefore, in Gethsemane garden on Valaam there was built a chapel “Prayer about the Cup”.

The Kedron stream (canal) is separated from the Garden of Gethsemane with the sacred space of the Mount of Olives, where, according to the Bible, on the fortieth day after the resurrection from the dead of Jesus Christ, his ascension took place, from the sacred space of New Jerusalem on Mount Zion: The Cave Temple, in which the marble crypt, with "likeness of the Holy Sepulcher"; Church of the Resurrection, built in memory of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Thus, on Valaam, across the Jordan River, on the one hand, we read sacred texts: “Baptism” and “Transfiguration” of Jesus Christ, on the other − “Crucifixion”, “Resurrection” and “Ascension” of Jesus Christ (see Figure 1).

The biblical vocabulary of Solovki also reflects the sacred landscape of the islands in toponyms: Mount Golgotha (mountain); Jordan (Saint, lake); Favor (mountain) and others. The central complex of the Orthodox Solovetsky Monastery of the Transfiguration of Christ is located not on Mount Favor, unlike Valaam, but on the low shore of the Blagopoluchiya Bay (see Figure 3).


Figure 3. – Solovki. Blagopoluchiya Bay. The Orthodox Solovetsky Monastery of the Transfiguration of Christ

The Solovetskaya Mount Favor with a chapel in honor of the Transfiguration of the Lord is located on the island of Bolshaya Muksalma, connected by a boulder dam through the Southern Iron Gate to Bolshoi Solovetsky Island (see Figure 4).


Figure 4. – Solovki. Bolshaya Muksalma. Mount Favor [10]

On Solovki, on Anzer Island, there is Mount Golgotha, towards which pilgrims make their way of the cross (see Figure 5). According to the description of Abbot Dositheus, it is a volcanic mountain, difficult to climb [2, P 362].


Figure 5. – Solovki. Anzer Island. Mount Golgotha [10]

O. Chumicheva considers that “the Solovetsky Cloister wasn’t renamed into New Jerusalem by men. It was not more similar to Palestine topography than any other Christian monastery. And there is a real ground to believe that it is a really sacred place − not man-made and not connected with impious ambitions. And the martyrdom of its dwellers was a part of the ritual – an inevitable way to the final salvation” [11, P. 836].


The research on biblical toponymy in sacral space of Russian North was conducted on the example of biblical names hierotopy on Valaam and Solovki. Following the tradition of pilgrimage to the sacred places connected with the life of Our Saviour, Russian Orthodox people also wanted to see some reminders of the Holy Land in their own country.

Therefore, we can conclude that objects on Valaam and Solovki with biblical placenames were sacred for monks and nowadays are sacred for devout people and for all of us too. But Valaam and Solovki are identified with Palestine only partly because there are different toponyms with different situations of geographical objects.

Список литературы / References:
  1. Гуран П. Константинополь – Новый Иерусалим. На пересечении священного пространства и политического богословия / Гуран П. // Новые Иерусалимы. Иеротопия и иконография сакральных пространств. – М.: Индрик, 2009. – С. 35–57.
  2. Досифей (Немчинов). Географическое, историческое и статистическое описание ставропигиального первоклассного Соловецкого монастыря / Досифей (Немчинов) − М.: Университетская Типография, 1836. − 724 с.
  3. Лидов А.М. Новые Иерусалимы. Перенесение Святой земли как порождающая матрица христианской культуры / Лидов А.М. // Новые Иерусалимы. Иеротопия и иконография сакральных пространств. – М.: Индрик, 2009. – С. 5–10.
  4. Лотман Ю. М. Статьи по семиотике и типологии культуры / Лотман Ю. М. Т. 1. – Таллин: «Александра», 1992. – 479 с.
  5. Михайлова, Л. В. Валаам в географических названиях. Топонимическая карта / Михайлова, Л. В. – Петрозаводск: ООО «Издательство «Острова», 2012.
  6. Михайлова Л. В. Валаам: Град Земной – Град Небесный: монография / Михайлова Л. В. – Петрозаводск: Издательство КГПА, 2013. – 180 с.
  7. Михайлова Л. В. Валаам = Valamo = Valaam: [буклет с картой острова] / Михайлова Л. В. − Петрозаводск: Петропресс, 1992.
  8. Михайлова Л. В. Преображение Русского Севера: монография / Михайлова Л. В. – Петрозаводск: Изд-во ПетрГУ, 2015. – 112 с.
  9. Попович Д. Пустыня как Новый Иерусалим: становление образов сакрального пространства / Попович Д. // Новые Иерусалимы. Иеротопия и иконография сакральных пространств. – М.: Индрик, 2009. – С.151–171.
  10. Соловецкие острова. Solovetsky Islands. Картографический путеводитель. – Санкт-Петербург: ФГУП «Аэрогеодезия», 2001
  11. Чумичева О.В. Соловецкий монастырь как старообрядческая альтернатива Новому Иерусалиму Патриарха Никона / Чумичева О.В. // Новые Иерусалимы. Иеротопия и иконография сакральных пространств. – М.: Индрик, – 2009. С.829–836.
  12. Curtal F. Teutonic Hierotopy: St. Christopher at Lochstedt / Curtal F., Leighton G. // Napocensis Ephemeris. September 2020. P. 127–164.
  13. Kenyon K. Jerusalem. Excavating 3000 years of History / Kenyon K. – London: Thames and Hudson, 1970. – 211 p.
  14. Simsky A. The Discovery. of Hierotopy / Simsky A. // Визуальная теология 2020. № 1. P. 9−28.
  15. The Holy Bible. – Texas: Seminars Unlimited Edition, 1983. – 1389 p.

Список литературы на английском / References in English:
  1. Guran P. Konstantinopol – Novyiy Ierusalim. Na peresechenii svyaschennogo prostranstva i politicheskogo bogosloviya [The Constantinople – New Jerusalem at the crossing of sacred space and political theology] // Guran P. – Novyie Ierusalimyi. Ierotopiya i ikonografiya sakralnyih prostranstv. – Moscow, Indrik, 2009. –P. 35–57 [in Russian]
  2. Dosifej. Geograicheskoe, istoricheskoe i statisticheskoe opisanie stavropigial’nogo pervoklassnogo Soloveckogo monastyrya [Geographical, historical and statistical description of the stavropegic irst-class Solovetsky monastery] / Dosifej – Moscow, University Printing House, 1853, – 724 p. [in Russian]
  3. Lidov A.M. Novyie Ierusalimyi. Perenesenie Svyatoy zemli kak porozhdayuschaya matritsa hristianskoy kulturyi [New Jerusalems. Transferring of the Holy land as generative matrix of christian culture] / Lidov A.M. // Novyie Ierusalimyi. Ierotopiya i ikonografiya sakralnyih prostranstv. – Moscow, Indrik, 2009. P. 5–10 [in Russian]
  4. Lotman Yu. M. Stati po semiotike i tipologii kulturyi [Articles on semiotics and typology of culture. Vol.1] / Lotman Yu. M. – Tallin, «Aleksandra», 1992. Vol.1. – 479 p. [in Russian]
  5. Mihaylova L. V. Valaam v geograficheskih nazvaniyah. Toponimicheskaya karta [Valaam in geographical names. Toponym’s map] / Mihajlova L. V. – Petrozavodsk, LTD. publishing "House "Islands", 2012 [in Russian]
  6. Mihaylova L. V. Valaam: Grad Zemnoy – Grad Nebesnyiy: monografiya [Valaam: City of the Earth – City of Heaven: monograph] / Mihaylova L. V. – Petrozavodsk, KSPA Publishing House, 2013. – 180 p. [in Russian]
  7. Mihaylova L. V. Valaam = Valamo = Valaam: [buklet s kartoy ostrova] [Valaam = Valamo = Valaam: [booklet with a map of the island] / Mihaylova L. V. – Petrozavodsk, Petropress, 1992 [in Russian]
  8. Mihaylova L. V. Preobrazhenie Russkogo Severa: monografiya [The Transfiguration of the Russian North: monograph] / Mihajlova L.V. – Petrozavodsk, PetrGU, 215. – p. 112 [in Russian]
  9. Popovich D. Pustyinya kak Novyiy Ierusalim: stanovlenie obrazov sakralnogo prostranstva [Desert as heavenly Jerusalem: the imagery of a sacred space in the making] // Novyie Ierusalimyi. Ierotopiya i ikonografiya sakralnyih prostranstv. Popovich D. – Moscow, Indrik, 2009. P. 151–171 [in Russian]
  10. Solovetskie ostrova. [Solovetsky Islands. A mapping guide]. – Sankt-Peterburg, FGUP «Aerogeodeziya», 2001 [in Russian]
  11. Chumicheva O.V. Solovetskiy monastyir kak staroobryadcheskaya alternativa Novomu Ierusalimu Patriarha Nikona [Solovetsky cloister as an old-believers’ alternative to New Jerusalem of the Patriarch Nikon] / Chumicheva O.V. // Novyie Ierusalimyi. Ierotopiya i ikonografiya sakralnyih prostranstv. – Moscow, Indrik, 2009. P.829–836 [in Russian]
  12. Curtal F. Teutonic Hierotopy: St. Christopher at Lochstedt / Curtal F., Leighton G. // Napocensis Ephemeris. September 2020. P. 127–164.
  13. Kenyon K. Jerusalem. Excavating 3000 years of History / Kenyon K. – London: Thames and Hudson, 1970. – 211 p.
  14. Simsky A. The Discovery. of Hierotopy / Simsky A. // Journal of Visual Theology 2020. № 1. P. 9−28.
  15. The Holy Bible. – Texas: Seminars Unlimited Edition, 1983. – 1389 p.

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