The Holy Spring in Lozhok Village, one of the Former GULAG Locations.

There is a quiet and peaceful place to the south of Novosibirsk, on the outskirts of Lozhok village. It takes approximately 1.5 hours to get there from the center of Novosibirsk. An elegant newly built Orthodox  church overlooks a tiny chapel off a small creek surrounded by picturesque birch trees. On popular Orthodox holidays the place is packed with worshipers,  but even on ordinary days the place is never empty. People from nearby villages and even from Novosibirsk arrive with bottles, cans, and barrels to get some water from the creek, while the most courageous ones dive into the ever-freezing waters in specially arranged pools, some doing it even in the middle of Siberian winter.

Why would they do it? And why the church and the chapel were built so far from the city and the village?

If you are interested in the Russian history, you know, of course, of one of the saddest and the most dramatic periods of the soviet era, when millions of people were sent to GULAGS, many of them died or were murdered there. There were lots of GULAG locations all over the country, most of them in unfriendly northern or Siberian regions, and Novosibirsk was not an exception. There were several locations around Novosibirsk, but the one in Lozhok is a sadly remembered oneю According to the available data, this location was one of the most cruel of all, and being sent there meant soon and inevitable death.  Most of the prisoners were sentenced as political prisoners and ‘enemies of the people’. Many of then were Orthodox priests. It is well known that all and any religion were banned in the Soviet time, and the 30-ies were the most dramatic years. According to the legend, confirmed by old-timers (most of them are gone now), one day lots of Orthodox priests were murdered on a day in the late 1930-ies. After a while a spring appeared out of nowhere, clear and freezing cold. The camp administration exploded the  spring, but it appeared again…

There are no documents and papers able to confirm the truth of all that. However, the history of GULAGs is a sadly known one… So nowadays people worship the place and do pilgrimages there. The construction of the church was blessed by the Patriarch himself in 2006.

Today the place is maintained and taken care of throughout the whole year. There is a residence house for one attendant whose duty is to clean the whole area and to welcome worshipers. All attendants are residents of the specialized clinic for drug abusers, who are determined to come back to healthy life. The clinic, as well as the church and the Holy Spring are sponsored and supported by several large business owners from Novosibirsk, who are all Orthodox Christians.

Nothing reminds of the former cruelty and terror but for a couple of old concrete stones. And the memories and the spirit of all those wrongfully convinced and murdered, who live forever all around the place as birch trees, crystal clear waters and transparent air.

Worshipers come here with all sorts of worries and troubles, in hope for salvation and in faith for the better future. For the future without pain.


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