The name of the monastery is derived from an historical event. In the fourteenth century, Moscow was threatened by an imminent invasion by the Tatar Tamerlane who was then devastating the southern Russian countryside, including Ryazan. As the army under Grand Prince Vasily was preparing to do battle, Metropolitan Kiprian of Moscow ordered that the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God be brought from Vladimir to Moscow to protect the capital from the invasion. Clergy of the Dormition Cathedral in Moscow were sent to Vladimir to bring the icon. In a grand procession the icon was carried to Moscow. The procession was met on August 26, 1395, by Metr. Kiprian, Muscovites, and the ruling prince, not far from the Kremlin, from whence the icon continued to the Dormition Cathedral in the Kremlin. Soon thereafter, the armies of Tamerlane retreated and the grateful prince established the monastery to commemorate the miracle.
Two years later, the Sretensky Monastery was established on the place of the "meeting" of the miracle-working icon of Our Lady of Vladimir that occurred before the retreat of the Tatar force. The name "Sretensky" is derived from the Church Slavonic word Stretenie, meaning "meeting."
Over the years, Sretensky Monastery became associated with many historical personalities. In 1552, the monastery was visited by Ivan IV after his conquest of Kazan who awarded generous donations to monastery. In later years, the tsars came to the monastery as pilgrims and financed the monastery's building program. The monastery took an active part in bringing Mikhail Fyodorovich to the throne of Russia, in 1613. The Moscow elite as well common people came to the monastery for prayers as they started on pilgrimages. Among the people who visited the monastery were Patriarch Nikon and the Metropolitans of Moscow Platon (Levshin) and Philaret (Drozdov). In Soviet times, Patriarch Tikhon served often at the monastery. Sergei Izvekov, the future Patriarch Pimen, took his monastic vows at the monastery on December 4, 1925.
Sretensky Monastery is now one of the most important centers of Orthodox religious life and education in Russia. The cathedral is being restored, including restoration of the iconostasis according to the ancient canons. In addition to the daily Divine Liturgy and regular monastic life, the monastery has become one of the largest publication houses in Russia.
On September 8 O.S., 1995, the Patronal day of the monastery, the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God was brought from the State Tryetyakov Gallery for two days. In spite of heavy rains, more than 30,000 believers participated in the procession at the monastery. The relics of the martyred Abp. Hilarion (Troitsky) were moved from St. Petersburg to the monastery in May 1999.
During the autumn of 1999, a new educational institution was established at the monastery. The Sretensky High Orthodox College (seminary) was founded to prepare well-educated clergy who are not only knowledgeable in theology but also in modern scientific and cultural matters and problems. The college offers studies in the two following disciplines: Orthodox theology and apologetics.
Two sketes (hermitages) are attached to the monastery. The first skete, which is for men, is dedicated to St. Seraphim of Sarov and is located the Ryazan region. The monks reside in the reconstructed Krasnoye mansion. The second skete, for women, is dedicated to God's Prophet Elijah and is located in the Moscow area. The nuns participate in the activities of the monastery.