Lives of all saints commemorated on May 23


St Michael the Confessor the Bishop of Synnada

Saint Michael the Confessor From his youth he longed for the monastic life and was sent by Patriarch Tarasius (784-806) to a monastery on the coast of the Black Sea. St Theophylactus (March 8), the future Bishop of Nicomedia also entered the monastery together with him.

At the monastery both monks engaged in spiritual struggles and were soon glorified by gifts from the Lord. Once, during a harvest, when the people were weakened by thirst, an empty metal vessel was filled with water by the prayer of the monks.

Patriarch Tarasius consecrated St Michael as bishop of the city of Synada. Through his holy life and wisdom, St Michael won the love of believers, and the notice of the emperors Nicephorus I (802-811) and Michael I Rangabe (811-813). St Michael was present at the Seventh Ecumenical Council at Nicea in 787.

When the Iconoclast heretic Leo the Armenian (813-820) assumed the throne, he began to expel Orthodox hierarchs from their Sees, appointing heretics in their place.

St Michael defended Orthodoxy, bravely opposing the heretics and denouncing their error. Leo the Armenian brought St Michael to trial, but not fearing torture he answered resolutely, “I venerate the holy icons of my Savior Jesus Christ and the All-Pure Virgin, His Mother, and all the saints, and it is to them I bow down. I shall not obey your decrees to remove icons from churches.”

Leo then banished St Michael to the city of Eudokiada, where the confessor died about the year 821. The head of St Michael is preserved in the Great Lavra of St Athanasius on Mount Athos, and part of the relics are at the Iveron monastery.


Uncovering of the relics of St Leontius the Bishop and Wonderworker of Rostov

The celebration of the Synaxis of the Rostov and Yaroslav Saints on May 23 was established by resolution of His Holiness Patriarch Alexis I (+ 1970) and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, on March 10, 1964.

Saint Leontius, Bishop of Rostov, is commemorated today with the other Rostov saints. He reposed on May 23, 1073, and his holy relics were uncovered in 1164.


Synaxis of the Saints of Rostov

The celebration of the Synaxis of the Rostov and Yaroslav Saints on May 23 was established by resolution of His Holiness Patriarch Alexis I (+ 1970) and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, on March 10, 1964.

Archimandrite Abraham the wonderworker (October 29, 1073-1077)

Prince Basil (+ 1238)

Metropolitan Demetrius (+ October 28, 1709 and September 21)

Bishop Ignatius (+ May 28, 1288)

Monk Irenarchus the Hermit (+ 1616)

Bishop Isaiah, wonderworker (+ May 15, 1090)

Blessed Isidore, Fool-for-Christ (+ 1474)

Bishop James (+ November 27, 1391)

Blessed John of the Hair-Shirt (the Merciful), Fool-for-Christ (+ 1580)

Bishop Leontius (+ May 23, 1073)

Peter, Tsarevich of Ordynsk (+ 1290)

Archbishop Theodore (+ November 28, 1394)

Yaroslav Wonderworkers:

Princes Basil (+ 1249), Constantine (+ 1257), Theodore (+ 1299) and his sons David (+ 1321) and Constantine (XIV)

Pereslavl Wonderworkers:

Prince Alexander Nevsky (+ 1263)

Prince Andrew of Smolensk (15th c.)

Monk Daniel the Archimandrite (+ 1540)

Monk Nikita the Stylite (+ 1186)

Uglich Wonderworkers:

Monk Cassian (+ 1504)

Tsarevich Demetrius (+ 1591)

Monk Ignatius of Lomsk (+ 1591)

Monk Paisius (+ 1504)

Prince Roman (+ 1285)

Poshekhonsk Wonderworkers:

Hieromartyr Adrian (+ 1550)

Monk Gennadius of Liubimograd and Kostroma (+ 1565)

Monk Sebastian (+ 1542)

Monk Sylvester of Obnora (+ 1379)


St Isaiah the Hierarch and Wonderworker of Rostov

The celebration of the Synaxis of the Rostov and Yaroslav Saints on May 23 was established by resolution of His Holiness Patriarch Alexis I (+ 1970) and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, on March 10, 1964.

St Isaiah is also commemorated on May 15.


St Leontius the Wonderworker of Murom

The celebration of the Synaxis of the Rostov and Yaroslav Saints on May 23 was established by resolution of His Holiness Patriarch Alexis I (+ 1970) and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, on March 10, 1964.

St Leontius reposed on May 23, 1073.


St Ignatius the Wonderworker of Murom

The celebration of the Synaxis of the Rostov and Yaroslav Saints on May 23 was established by resolution of His Holiness Patriarch Alexis I (+ 1970) and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, on March 10, 1964.

Saint Ignatius was Bishop of Rostov, and shepherded his flock for twenty-six years. After his death on May 28, 1288, his body was brought to the church. Some people saw him leave his coffin, and float in the air above the church. He blessed the people and the city, then went back to his coffin.

Many miracles took place at his grave.


St James the Wonderworker of Murom

The celebration of the Synaxis of the Rostov and Yaroslav Saints on May 23 was established by resolution of His Holiness Patriarch Alexis I (+ 1970) and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, on March 10, 1964.

Saint James, Bishop of Rostov According to a local tradition, he received monastic tonsure at Kopyrsk monastery on the River Ukhtoma, 80 kilometers from Rostov. For a long time he was igumen of this monastery, and in the year 1385 he was made Bishop of Rostov when Pimen was Metropolitan and Demetrius of the Don was Great Prince.

In defending a woman condemned to execution, the saint followed the example of the Savior, inviting whoever considered himself to be without sin to cast the first stone at her (John 8:7), and he then sent the woman forth to repentance. The Prince and the Rostov nobles, disgruntled over the bishop’s judgment, threw St James out of Rostov.

Leaving the city, the saint proceeded to Lake Nero, spread his bishop’s mantiya on the water, and having signed himself with the Sign of the Cross, he sailed off on it as if on a boat, guided by the grace of God. Traveling one and a half versts from the city, St James emerged on shore at the site of his future monastery. The prince and the people, repenting their actions, besought the saint’s forgiveness. The gentle bishop forgave them, but he did not return again.

On the shore of Lake Nero he made himself a cell and built a small church in honor of the Conception of the Most Holy Theotokos by Righteous Anna, marking the beginning of the Conception-St James monastery. St James died there on November 27, 1392.

There is a story that St James fought against the Iconoclast heresy of a certain fellow named Markian, who appeared in Rostov toward the end of the fourteenth century. The more ancient Lives of our saint do not mention this, and even the great hagiographer St Demetrius of Rostov was unaware of it. More recent hagiographers were wont to draw material from the Service to St James of Rostov. But the Service itself, preserved in copies from the sixteenth-seventeenth centuries, was compiled by borrowing from the Service to St Bucolus (February 6), who struggled against the first century heretic Marcian, and from the Service to St Stephen of Surozh (December 15), who contended against the emperor Constantine Kopronymos (741-775).

St James is also commemorated on November 27.


St Theodore the Wonderworker of Murom

The celebration of the Synaxis of the Rostov and Yaroslav Saints on May 23 was established by resolution of His Holiness Patriarch Alexis I (+ 1970) and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, on March 10, 1964.

Saint Theodore, Archbishop of Rostov, in the world John, was the son of Stephen (brother of St Sergius of Radonezh), who occupied an important post under Prince Andrew of Radonezh. Left a widower, Stephen became a monk, and together with his twelve-year-old son, he went to the monastery to St Sergius, who foreseeing the ascetic life of the child John, tonsured him with the name Theodore on the Feast of St Theodore the Hair-Shirt Wearer (April 20).

After Theodore attained an appropriate age, he was given a blessing to be ordined to the priesthood. With the blessing of St Sergius, St Theodore built a church in honor of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos and founded a monastery on the banks of the River Moskva, at the place called Simonovo. Soon the monastery began to attract a throng of people. St Theodore built a cell five versts from the Moscow Kremlin, and pursued new ascetical labors, and here disciples gathered around him. St Sergius, visiting this place, blessed the founding of a monastery, and Metropolitan Alexis blessed the construction of a church in the name of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos at Novoe Simonovo, which also had its foundations laid in 1379. The old Simonov monastery remained the burial place of monks.

Because of his virtuous life and strict asceticism, St Theodore became known in Moscow. The Metropolitan St Alexis elevated him to the rank of igumen, and Great Prince Demetrius of the Don chose him as his father confessor. St Theodore journeyed to Constantinople several times on church matters for the Russian Metropolitan. On his first journey in 1384, Patriarch Nilus made him an archimandrite. The Simonov monastery was put directly under the Patriarch, thus became stavropegial. In 1387, he was consecrated archbishop and occupied the See of Rostov.

Being the igumen, and then the archimandrite of the Simonov monastery, and despite being occupied with churchly matters, St Theodore stalwartly guided those in the monastic life and counted many great and famous ascetics among his disciples. Saints Cyril (June 9) and Therapon (May 27), the future founders of two famous White Lake monasteries, were tonsured at the Simonov monastery. St Theodore occupied himself with iconography, and he adorned with icons of his own painting both the Simonov monastery, and many Moscow churches.

At Rostov, Archbishop Theodore founded the Nativity of the Virgin monastery.

The blessed death of the saint occurred on November 28, 1394. His relics are in the Rostov Dormition cathedral.


St Demetrius the Wonderworker of Murom

No information available.


St Abraham the Archimandrite

The celebration of the Synaxis of the Rostov and Yaroslav Saints on May 23 was established by resolution of His Holiness Patriarch Alexis I (+ 1970) and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, on March 10, 1964.

St Abraham is also commemorated on October 29.


Right-believing Prince Peter of Rostov

The celebration of the Synaxis of the Rostov and Yaroslav Saints on May 23 was established by resolution of His Holiness Patriarch Alexis I (+ 1970) and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, on March 10, 1964.

The right-believing Prince Peter is also commemorated on June 30.


St John the Merciful

The celebration of the Synaxis of the Rostov and Yaroslav Saints on May 23 was established by resolution of His Holiness Patriarch Alexis I (+ 1970) and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, on March 10, 1964.

St John is also commemorated on September 3 and November 12.


St Irenarchus the Recluse

The celebration of the Synaxis of the Rostov and Yaroslav Saints on May 23 was established by resolution of His Holiness Patriarch Alexis I (+ 1970) and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, on March 10, 1964.

St Irenarchus is also commemorated on January 13.


Blessed Isidore

The celebration of the Synaxis of the Rostov and Yaroslav Saints on May 23 was established by resolution of His Holiness Patriarch Alexis I (+ 1970) and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, on March 10, 1964.

St Isidore is also commemorated on May 14.


Right-Believing Prince Basil (Vasilko)

The celebration of the Synaxis of the Rostov and Yaroslav Saints on May 23 was established by resolution of His Holiness Patriarch Alexis I (+ 1970) and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, on March 10, 1964.

Holy Prince Basil of Rostov belonged in lineage to the Suzdal Monomashichi, famed in Russian history. The saint’s great-grandfather was Yuri Dolgoruky, and his grandfather was Great Prince Vsevolod III “Big-Nest” (+ 1212), brother to St Andrew Bogoliubsky (July 4), who had been heir to and continuer of St Andrew Bogoliubsky’s work. From Vladimir-on-Klyazma, which became the capital of the old Rostovo-Suzdal principality, Vsevolod “Big-Nest” single-handedly set the course of affairs of the whole of Great Rus. The “Lay of Igor’s Campaign” (“Slovo o polku Igoreve”) says that he could “splash the Volga with oars, and bail out the Don with helmets.”

St Basil (Basilko) was the oldest child of the “Big Nest”. The oldest grandson of Vsevolod from his oldest son Constantine, St Basil was born on December 7, 1208 in Rostov, where his father ruled as prince. He spent his childhood there, and in 1216, when Constantine Vsevolodovich became Great Prince of Vladimir, Rostov was apportioned to Basil (he was then eight years old) as his princely appanage to rule himself.

Military valor, sacred duty of service to country, the sense of justice and the heeding of one’s elders, all these are traditional features of a Russian princely defender of the land, and all were present in Basil. The saint’s father, Great-prince Constantine, died on February 2, 1218, when Basil was not yet ten years of age. The guide of the young Rostov prince then became his uncle, the Great Prince St Yuri of Vladimir (February 4).

For twenty years Prince Yuri ruled Vladimir, and for all these years Basil was his closest friend and confidant. The chronicles take note of the vibrantly handsome figure of Basil, his bright and majestic glance, his daring in trapping wild game, his beneficence, his mind and deep studiousness, together with his mildness and good-nature in relations with the nobles: “Whoever served him, whoever ate his bread and drank the cup with him, could never be the servant of another prince.”

In the year 1219 Basil participated in a campaign of the Vladimir-Suzdal forces against the Volga Bulgars, and in 1221 in a campaign to the mouth of the River Oka. St Yuri was then held hostage at Nizhni Novgorod.

In 1223 the first Tatars (Mongols) appeared on the southern steppes, “an unknown people”, coming out of Asia. Their first victims were the Polovetsians allied with Rus. The Russian princes, with the Polovetsian khans (many of whom had accepted Holy Baptism), decided to resist the plunderers of the steppes before they reached the Russian Land. St Basil headed an auxiliary detachment, sent by Great Prince Yuri to participate in the Russian steppe campaign.

The enemy showed up sooner than they expected. And the centuries-old division of appenage principalities proved incapable of effective action in a large scale war. The detachment of Basil was not in time for the decisive battle, and from Chernigov came the sad news of the destruction of the Russian forces at the River Kalka on June 16, 1223. This was a bad omen, and the storm loomed on the east. Basil and his company returned to Rostov.

In 1227 (or 1228) Basil married, taking Maria, daughter of St Michael of Chernigov (September 20) as his wife. Basil’s uncle, St Yuri, had previously married St Michael’s sister [i.e. Basil’s uncle Yuri had married Maria’s aunt]. In 1231 Basil’s oldest son Boris was born.

The storm clouds thickened over Russia. On May 3, 1230, “the earth shook during Liturgy”, and famine and pestilence came upon Rus that year. In 1232 the Tatars made winter camp, having barely reached the capital of the Volga Bulgars. Life took its course, and Prince Yuri in 1236 married off his sons Vladimir and Mstislav, and Basil rejoiced at their weddings. All of them, however, had little more than a year to live, for the Tatars had already taken the Volga-Bulgarian land.

In 1237 the Tatar whirlwind broke upon Rus. In December Ryazan fell under Batu. Prince Yuri had decided not to send his forces over to provide assistance, since he was faced with the difficult defense of Vladimir. The Tatars offered him peace, and he was prepared to negotiate. But the conditions of the peace, tribute and vassal servitude under the Khan, were unacceptable. “A glorious fight,” said the prince, “is better than a shameful peace.” The first battle with the Tatars was at Kolomna, and Vsevolod Yurievich commanded the troops, but they were cut to pieces. The enemy turned then towards Moscow, which they captured and burned. Yuri’s other son, Vladimir, was captured while leading the defense of Moscow.

St Yuri and his faithful companion St Basil were determined to fight “for the Orthodox Christian Faith” against the “godlessly vile Tatars.” Having organized his defenses and leaving his sons Vsevolod and Mstislav at Vladimir, Prince Yuri went beyond the Volga to gather new troops to replace those annihilated by Batu.

With him were his nephews, St Basil of Rostov and his company, and his brothers, Vsevolod and Vladimir. The Great Prince awaited the arrival of his brothers Yaroslav and Svyatoslav and their forces.

On Meatfare Saturday, February 3, 1238, quickly and without hindrance upon the wintry roads, the Tatar army approached Vladimir. Despite heroic defense, the fate of the city was sealed. Bishop Metrophanes for spiritual strength tonsured all the princes and princesses remaining in the city into the angelic schema. The city fell on February 7.

The final outpost of the Vladimirites was the Dormition cathedral, repository of the most holy object in Russia: the wonderworking Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God. The Tatars piled wood and kindling around the cathedral and made a tremendous fire. Bishop Metrophanes died in the fire and smoke, together with a thousand defenseless women and children, and Prince Yuri’s entire family: his wife Agathia, daughter Theodora, daughters-in-law Maria and Christina, and the infant grandson Demetrius. His sons Vsevolod and Mstislav, together with the previously captured Vladimir, were subjected to tortures and then slaughtered “before the eyes of the Khan”. (In several of the old collections of Saints’ Lives, all of them are listed as saints).

St Yuri had been with his forces near Yaroslavl. Learning of the destruction of the capital and the death of those near and dear to him, “he lamented in a loud voice with tears.” He said it would be better for him to die rather than continue to live in this world, since he alone survived. St Basil, arriving with the Rostov company, encouraged him to continue with the military effort.

On March 4, 1238 the decisive battle took place at the River Sita. The Tatars unexpectedly managed to encircle the Russian army, and a slaughter ensued. Few Russian warriors remained alive after this terrible battle, but the enemy paid an expensive price for its victory. St Yuri was cut down in distinguished combat, and the wounded Basil was brought to Batu’s headquarters.

The Tatars demanded that he “follow their vile customs, be subject to their will and fight for them.” The holy prince angrily refused to betray his homeland or Holy Orthodoxy. “You cannot take the Christian Faith from me” said the holy prince, like one of the ancient Christian confessors. “They tortured him a great deal, and then killed him in the Shernsk woods.” Thus did holy Prince Basil commit his soul to God, resembling in death the holy Passion-Bearer Boris (July 24), the first of the Rostov princes, whom he had imitated in life. Like St Boris, St Basil was not even thirty years of age.

Bishop Cyril of Rostov, going out on the field of carnage, buried the fallen Orthodox warriors, and he sought the body of holy Prince Yuri (they did not find his cut-off head in the mass of broken bodies). He brought his holy relics to Rostov, to the Dormition cathedral. The body of St Basil was found in the Shernsk woods by a priest’s son and was taken to Rostov. There the prince’s wife, his children, Bishop Cyril and all the inhabitants of Rostov met the body of their beloved prince with bitter wailing, and they buried him beneath the arches of the cathedral church.

Describing the burial of Prince Basil, the chronicler said: “The multitude of Orthodox people wept bitterly, when they saw the departed father and nourisher of orphans, the great comforter of the sorrowful, and... the setting of a luminous star.... By his martyr’s blood his transgressions and those of his brethren were washed away.”

The people regarded it as a sign of God’s mercy that the two princely comrades-in-arms were buried side by side in the Rostov cathedral church: “Behold the wonder, in death God has placed their bodies together.” (Later on, the relics of holy Prince Yuri were transferred to the restored Vladimir Dormition cathedral).

The Church venerates Sts Basil and Yuri as Passion-Bearers, and heroic defenders of the Russian Land. Their holy example has inspired Russian soldiers in the fight against hostile invaders. The most detailed account of the life and deeds of holy Princes Basil and Yuri is preserved in the Lavrentiev Chronicle, written by the monk Laurence with the blessing of St Dionysius, Archbishop of Suzdal, in the year 1377, three years before the Battle of Kulikovo Pole.

The holy martyr Prince Vasilko (Basil) of Rostov is also commemorated on March 4.


Right-believing Prince Basil of Yaroslavl

The celebration of the Synaxis of the Rostov and Yaroslav Saints on May 23 was established by resolution of His Holiness Patriarch Alexis I (+ 1970) and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, on March 10, 1964.

The holy right-believing Prince Basil is also commemorated on June 8 and July 3.


St Theodore of Yaroslavl

The celebration of the Synaxis of the Rostov and Yaroslav Saints on May 23 was established by resolution of His Holiness Patriarch Alexis I (+ 1970) and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, on March 10, 1964.

St Theodore is also commemorated on September 19 and March 5.


St David of Yaroslavl

The celebration of the Synaxis of the Rostov and Yaroslav Saints on May 23 was established by resolution of His Holiness Patriarch Alexis I (+ 1970) and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, on March 10, 1964.

St David is also commemorated on March 5 and September 19.


St Constantine of Yaroslavl

The celebration of the Synaxis of the Rostov and Yaroslav Saints on May 23 was established by resolution of His Holiness Patriarch Alexis I (+ 1970) and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, on March 10, 1964.

St Constantine is also commemorated on March 5, June 22, and September 19.


Venerable Nikita the Stylite, Wonderworker of Pereyaslavl

The celebration of the Synaxis of the Rostov and Yaroslav Saints on May 23 was established by resolution of His Holiness Patriarch Alexis I (+ 1970) and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, on March 10, 1964.

St Nikita is also commemorated on May 24.


St Daniel the Wonderworker of Pereyaslavl

The celebration of the Synaxis of the Rostov and Yaroslav Saints on May 23 was established by resolution of His Holiness Patriarch Alexis I (+ 1970) and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, on March 10, 1964.

St Daniel is also commemorated on April 7, July 28, and December 30.


Right-believing Prince Andrew

The celebration of the Synaxis of the Rostov and Yaroslav Saints on May 23 was established by resolution of His Holiness Patriarch Alexis I (+ 1970) and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, on March 10, 1964.

St Andrew is also commemorated on November 6.


Great Prince Alexander Nevsky

The celebration of the Synaxis of the Rostov and Yaroslav Saints on May 23 was established by resolution of His Holiness Patriarch Alexis I (+ 1970) and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, on March 10, 1964.

St Alexander Nevsky is also commemorated on August 30 and November 23.


Right-believing Tsarvitch Demetrius of Uglich

The celebration of the Synaxis of the Rostov and Yaroslav Saints on May 23 was established by resolution of His Holiness Patriarch Alexis I (+ 1970) and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, on March 10, 1964.

The holy right-believing Tsarevitch Demetrius is also commemorated on May 15 and June 3.


St Igantius the Wonderworker of Uglich

The celebration of the Synaxis of the Rostov and Yaroslav Saints on May 23 was established by resolution of His Holiness Patriarch Alexis I (+ 1970) and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, on March 10, 1964.

The holy Prince John of Uglich was a devout and God-fearing Christian from his youth. He and his brother Demetrius were thrown into prison by their uncle John, and remained there for thirty-two years.

Before his death, Prince John received monastic tonsure with the name Ignatius.

St Ignatius the wonderworker is also commemorated on May 19.


St Cassian the Wonderworker of Uglich

The celebration of the Synaxis of the Rostov and Yaroslav Saints on May 23 was established by resolution of His Holiness Patriarch Alexis I (+ 1970) and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, on March 10, 1964.

St Cassian the Greek is also commemorated on May 21 and October 2.


St Paisius the Wonderworker of Uglich

The celebration of the Synaxis of the Rostov and Yaroslav Saints on May 23 was established by resolution of His Holiness Patriarch Alexis I (+ 1970) and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, on March 10, 1964.

St Paisius is also commemorated on January 8 and June 6.


Right-believing Prince Roman

The celebration of the Synaxis of the Rostov and Yaroslav Saints on May 23 was established by resolution of His Holiness Patriarch Alexis I (+ 1970) and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, on March 10, 1964.

The holy right-believing Prince Roman of Uglich is also commemorated on February 3.


St Adrian the Wonderworker of Poshekhonye

The celebration of the Synaxis of the Rostov and Yaroslav Saints on May 23 was established by resolution of His Holiness Patriarch Alexis I (+ 1970) and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, on March 10, 1964.

Saint Adrian of Poshekonye was born at Rostov the Great at the end of the sixteenth century, of pious parents named Gregory and Irene. St Adrian received monastic tonsure at the monastery of St Cornelius of Komel (May 19).

Among the brethren gathered around St Cornelius were some capable builders and iconographers, so the monastery churches were constructed and adorned by the saints themselves. In the final years of St Cornelius’s life, Kazan Tatars invaded the territory around the monastery, and he led all the brethren to the River Ukhtoma. But the Tatars did not touch the monastery, being frightened off by the sight of the many soldiers defending it, and they soon withdrew from the Vologda district. St Cornelius returned to the monastery with the brethren and reposed there on May 19, 1537.

Three years after the death of St Cornelius, St Adrian, then a hierodeacon, greatly desired to go into a wilderness place and found a monastery in honor of the Most Holy Theotokos. The Lord helped him fulfill his intention. A certain unknown Eder of striking appearance came to the Corniliev monastery. St Adrian asked him his name, and the Elder referred to himself as “the lowly one.”

When St Adrian invited him to his own cell and asked him to say something beneficial for the soul, the Elder said that he would show St Adrian the spot where he should build the church and monastery of the Most Holy Theotokos.

St Adrian immediately went to the Superior, Igumen Laurence, and sought his blessing to live in the wilderness. Recalling St Cornelius’s order that any monks who wished to withdraw into the wilderness should be released from the monastery, Igumen Laurence did not hinder St Adrian but gave him his blessing. He also sent with him his assistant, Eder Leonid. After they prayed at the grave of St Cornelius, St Adrian and Elder Leonid went on their way, led by the mysterious black-robed monk. St Adrian carried with him an icon of the Dormition of the Mother of God, which he also painted.

On September 13, 1540, the eve of the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross of the Lord, St Adrian and Elder Leonid arrived in the wild Poshekonye forest, near the settlements of Belta, Patrabolsha, Shelshedolsk and Ukhorsk.

They halted at the banks of the River Votkha. There the Elder leading them suddenly became invisible. The astonished travellers began to chant the Canon and service of the Feast, with tears of thanks to God. Indeed this was a portent of the future fame of the monastery, a place where God would be glorified.

For three years St Adrian and the Elder Leonid survived in the wilderness solitude, suffering want, overcoming temptations from the devil and the whisperings of wicked folk, and then they began to fulfill their intention. Choosing a suitable moment, the ascetics went to Moscow to ask the blessing of Metropolitan Macarius to establish a monastery and church in honor of the Dormition of the Mother of God on the Peshekhonye side of the River Votkha.

St Macarius gave his blessing to the ascetics to build the monastery, and he gave them a written document to that effect. He ordained Adrian to the priesthood and elevated him to the rank of igumen. In the document he had given to St Adrian, the hierarch bade “priests, deacons, monks and laymen to listen to him and obey him in everything, as befits a pastor and teacher.”

At Moscow the Poshekonye ascetics found generous benefactors who gave the monks abundant offerings to build their church. Returning to their wilderness spot on May 31, 1543, St Adrian laid the foundations for the church with a trapeza, in honor of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos.

Having embellished and consecrated the new church, St Adrian began the construction of the monastery. The strict monastic Rule of St Cornelius was introduced at the monastery. Having nothing of their own, a little being sufficient for everyone, the saints devoted a large portion of their time to prayer, both in church and in their cells, and no small time was allotted to the reading of Holy Scripture. This reading was done “not in an elegant voice, nor for effect, but in a humble and mild voice. One reads, and another speaks of what is read.” They also read in private.

In addition to his duties as igumen, St Adrian also occupied himself with painting icons. When his holy soul longed for complete silence, he withdrew into the depths of the forest into the cell and chapel he had built one verst away from the monastery.

Six years after the founding of the monastery, Elder Leonid reposed. St Adrian and the brethren buried him with reverence. The number of the brethren had increased during this time. They built three cells as dwellings, and a fourth for preparing food and baking bread.

St Adrian began to make plans for the construction of a large stone church, and he gathered a sum of money for this purpose. One year after the repose of Elder Leonid, during Great Lent of 1550, on the eve of the commemoration of the 42 Ammoreian Martyrs (March 6), armed robbers burst into the monastery and murdered St Adrian after beating him.

The holy relics of St Martyr Adrian were uncovered on December 17, 1626, solemnly transferred into the monastery church and placed in an open crypt by the right kliros (choir). Many miracles occurred at the grave of St Adrian.

St Adrian is also commemorated on March 5 and November 19.


St Sebastian the Wonderworker of Poshekhonsk

The celebration of the Synaxis of the Rostov and Yaroslav Saints on May 23 was established by resolution of His Holiness Patriarch Alexis I (+ 1970) and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, on March 10, 1964.

St Sebastian is also commemorated on February 26 and December 18.


St Sylvester of Obnora

The celebration of the Synaxis of the Rostov and Yaroslav Saints on May 23 was established by resolution of His Holiness Patriarch Alexis I (+ 1970) and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, on March 10, 1964.

St Sylvester is also commemorated on April 25.


St Gennadius

The celebration of the Synaxis of the Rostov and Yaroslav Saints on May 23 was established by resolution of His Holiness Patriarch Alexis I (+ 1970) and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, on March 10, 1964.

St Gennadius is also commemorated on January 23 and August 19.


Venerable Euphrosyne the Abbess of Polotsk

Saint Euphrosyne, Abbess of Polotsk, was named Predslava in the world, and was the daughter of Prince George Vseslavich. From her childhood she was noted for her love of prayer and book learning. After turning down a proposal of marriage, Predslava received monastic tonsure with the name Euphrosyne. With the blessing of Bishop Elias of Polotsk, she began to live near the Sophia cathedral, where she occupied herself by the copying of books.

Around the year 1128 Bishop Elias entrusted the nun with the task of organizing a women’s monastery. Setting out for Seltso, the site of the future monastery, the ascetic took only her holy books. At the newly constructed Savior-Transfiguration monastery the saint taught the girls to copy books, singing, sewing and other handicrafts.

Through her efforts, a cathedral was built in 1161, which survives to the present day. St Euphrosyne also founded a men’s monastery dedicated to the Mother of God. Patriarch Luke of Constantinople sent a copy of the wonderworking Ephesus Icon of the Mother of God at her request. Shortly before her death, St Euphrosyne journeyed on pilgrimage to the Holy Places with her nephew David and sister Eupraxia.

After venerating the holy things at Constantinople, she arrived in Jerusalem, where at the Russian monastery of the Most Holy Theotokos the Lord granted her a peaceful end on May 24, 1173.

In 1187 the body of the saint was transferred to the Kiev Caves monastery, and the relics were transferred to Polotsk in 1910 to the monastery she founded.

St Euphrosyne of Polotsk was glorified in the Russian Church as a patroness of women’s monasticism.


Venerable Paisius the Abbot of Galich

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Martyr Michael “the Black-Robed” of St Sava Monastery

Hieromartyr Michael the Black-Robed lived in the ninth century, and came from the city of Edessa (Mesopotamia) of Christian parents. He was a zealous disciple of St Theodore of Edessa (July 9). He distributed to the poor the inheritance left him by his parents, then went to Jerusalem to venerate the Holy Places.

Jerusalem at the time was under the control of the Mohammedans. St Michael remained in Palestine and settled in the monastery of St Sava. Once, he was sent from the monastery to Jerusalem to sell goods for the monks. At the marketplace, the eunuch of the Mohammedan empress Seida, seeing that the monastery goods were both fine and well-made, took him along to the empress.

The young monk caught the fancy of the empress, who tried to lead him into sin, but her intent proved to be in vain. Then by order of the enraged Seida they beat the monk with rods, and then accused him of being an enemy of Islam.

Having interrogated the monk, the emperor began to urge him to accept the Moslem faith, but St Michael answered, “I implore you, either send me back to the monastery to my instructor, or be baptized in our Christian Faith, or cut off my head, and then I shall go to Christ my God.” The emperor gave the saint a cup with deadly poison, which St Michael drank and remained unharmed. After this the emperor gave orders to cut off his head.

The death of the martyr occurred in Jerusalem, but the monks of the monastery of St Sava took the body of the saint to their Lavra and buried it there with reverence. At the beginning of the twelfth century the relics of the holy martyr were seen there by Daniel, the igumen of the Kiev Caves monastery, while on pilgrimage to the Holy Places.


St Damiane (Demetrius) the King and Hymnographer

Saint Damiane (in the world King Demetre I) was the son of Holy King Davit the Restorer.

King Davit proclaimed his son co-ruler of Georgia and crowned him with his own hands. He declared that his son Demetre, through his wisdom, chastity, bravery, and handsome appearance, would rule Georgia better than he himself had. Demetre acquired great glory while his father was still alive. In 1117 Davit sent him to Shirvan to fight, and the young commander astonished the people with his deftness in battle. Demetre seized Kaladzori Castle and returned home with many captives and much wealth.

King Demetre I struggled tirelessly to protect the inheritance he had received from his father: he guarded Georgia’s borders and fought to enlarge its frontiers. Many regions, including Hereti, Somkhiti, Tashiri, Javakheti, Artaani and the Tao border, were repopulated during King Demetre’s rule. These regions had been largely deserted after King Davit joined Tbilisi to the region of Heret-Kakheti.

King Demetre was never shaken by the evil intrigues plotted against him. First his noblemen revolted, demanding that his stepbrother, Vakhtang (Tsuata), replace him as king. (Ioane of Abuleti was the leader of this conspiracy.) Then Demetre’s own son Davit rebelled against him. Deeply disturbed by the behavior of his first-born son, the pious king could no longer bear the vanity of the world—he was tonsured a monk in the Davit-Gareji Wilderness and given the new

name Damiane. He abdicated to his son, but Davit ruled just six months before he reposed.

While laboring at Davit-Gareji Monastery, Damiane composed many great hymns for the Church. His hymn to the Theotokos, “Thou Art the Vineyard,” is outstanding among these works. In order to protect the interests of the Georgian kingdom after his son’s death, Damiane was obliged to leave the monastery. He returned to the throne and intervened in the affairs of the government. At the same time he named another of his sons, George, co-ruler.

King Damiane-Demetre completed construction of Gelati Monastery, which had been started by his father, Holy King Davit the Restorer.

St. Damiane reposed in 1157; he was buried at Gelati Monastery. A 12th-century image of St. Damiane-Demetre was among the frescoes at the Davit-Gareji Monastery. In the 19th century the Russian traveler Andrew Muraviev reported seeing the fresco intact, but today only a narrow upper band of the image remains. A fresco of the pious king and monk Demetre has been preserved in the church at Matskhvarishi (now Latali) in the Svaneti region.


Icon of the Mother of God “You are a Vineyard”

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