Valaam, an archipelago of some fifty islands that is frozen for 8 months of the year in the ice of the largest lake in Europe is home to the oldest monastery in Russia. For centuries the natural wildness of these islands has provided the refuge for monks come here in search of Christian perfection, far from the world, its turmoil and its temptations. This film is a discovery of their daily lives in the huge, main monastery, a veritable hive under reconstruction, and in the hermitages lost in the woods. Working the earth in the face of the elements, painting icons, holding major liturgies during the night: a life of permanent struggle with oneself, based on obedience and perpetual prayer. Rooted in the experience of the first monks from the Orient, this monastic existence, often little known in the West, has produced the greatest saints in Russian history.