Lives of all saints commemorated on September 28


Venerable Chariton the Confessor the Abbot of Palestine

Saint Chariton the Confessor was born at Iconium in the province of Lycaonia, and suffered there during a persecution against Christians in the reign of Emperor Aurelian (270-275). The example of the holy Protomartyr Thekla (September 24), who was also a native of his city, encouraged him to confess Christ, since he had a great devotion to her.

St Chariton bravely denounced the pagan gods and staunchly confessed faith in the one True God, Christ the Savior. The holy Confessor underwent fierce tortures but, by God's Providence, he survived. The persecution ended after Aurelian's death in 275. St Chariton was among the many Christians who were released from prison, and he resolved to dedicate his entire life to the service of the Lord. Although he escaped death, he grieved because he had not received the crown of martyrdom.

After arriving at Jerusalem on a pilgrimage to the holy places, he fell into the hands of thieves. They tied him up and threw him in a cave, intending to kill him later. After they left to find people to rob, the saint prayed fervently to God expecting to be put to death. He did not ask God to deliver him, but instead he entreated Him to do with him as He wished.

At this time a snake crawled into the cave and began to drink wine from a vessel setting there. Later it vomited forth its deadly venom, poisoning the wine. When they returned to the cave, the evil men drank the poisoned wine and they all perished. Thus, their wicked lives came to a fitting end. St Chariton gave thanks to God, and then he gave away the gold which the malefactors had stolen, distributing it to the poor, to churches, and to monasteries. He began his ascetic struggles in the place of his miraculous rescue, and there he built a church. In time a monastery was established: the renowned Pharan Lavra in Palestine. St Chariton's fame drew many disciples to him. He governed them with paternal affection, and he elevated them to the highest degrees of virtue.

St Chariton compiled a strict Rule for his monastery. Yearning for solitude, the monk withdrew farther into the desert in order to avoid the praise of men, but he never rejected anyone who sought his spiritual guidance. He founded two more monasteries: the Jericho (called the Monastery of St Chariton) and the Souka, which was called “the old Lavra.” He also brought many Jews and pagans to the Faith.

At the end of his life, St Chariton struggled in a cave atop a hill near the Souka monastery, but he did not cease to provide guidance for all three of the monasteries which he founded. He fell asleep in the Lord peacefully and at an advanced age on September 28, 350.

According to Tradition, St Chariton compiled the Office of the Monastic Tonsure. St Chariton was buried at the Pharan monastery, in accordance with his last wishes. His grace-filled relics were enshrined in the church that had been built on the site of the robbers' cave.


Synaxis of the Venerable Fathers of the Kiev Near Caves

The Synaxis of Monastic Fathers who are venerated in the Near Caves of St Anthony, is now celebrated on September 28. This general commemoration was originally on the first Saturday after the Leave-taking of the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross (i.e. after September 21).

The general commemoration of the monastic Fathers of the Near Caves of St Anthony on the Saturday after the Leave-taking of the Feast of the Exaltation of the Venerable Cross dates to the year 1670. During the restoration of the Caves, which had been damaged by an earthquake, some of the relics of the ancient ascetics were uncovered and a church was built in honor of the Exaltation of the Venerable Cross.

In 1760 a stone church in honor of the Exaltation of the Venerable Cross was built over the Caves. In 1886, under Metropolitan Platon of Kiev, the Synaxis of the Fathers of the Near Caves was moved to September 28 because of the celebration of the Synaxis of the Saints of the Far Caves on August 28 .

There are two Canons to the Monastic Fathers of the Near Caves. The first was compiled by the hieromonk Meletius the Orphan (inscribed in the Kiev Akathistnik of 1764). The second, found in the services in honor of the Fathers of the Kiev Caves, was compiled by St Demetrius of Rostov.

Among the Monastic Fathers of the Near Caves are:

Monk Anthony the First-Founder (July 10)

Monk Abramius the Lover of Labor (August 21)

Monk Abramius the Recluse (October 29)

Monk Agapitus, Unmercenary Physician (June 1)

Monk Alexis the Recluse (April 24)

Monk Alypius the Iconographer (August 17)

Martyr Anastasius the Deacon (January 22)

Monk Anatolius the Recluse (July 3)

Monk Arethas the Recluse (October 24)

Monk Athanasius the Recluse (December 2)

Igumen Barlaam (November 19)

Hosiomartyrs Basil and Theodore (August 11)

Hieromonk Damian the Healer (October 5)

Monk Elias of Murom (December 19)

Bishop Ephraim of Pereyaslavl (January 28)

Monk Erasmus the Black-Robed (February 24)

Martyr Eustratius (March 28)

Monk Gregory the Iconographer (August 8)

Martyr Gregory the Wonderworker (January 8)

Monk Helladius the Recluse (October 4)

Monk Isaac the Recluse (February 14)

Monk Isaiah the Wonderworker (May 15)

Monk Jeremiah the Clairvoyant (October 5)

Monk John the Faster (December 7)

John the God-pleasing (December 29)

Martyr John the Infant (December 29)

(commemorated with the 14,000 Infants killed at Bethlehem by Herod)

Monk John the Long-Suffering (July 18)

Nun Juliana, Princess of Olshansk (July 6)

Hieromartyr Kuksha, Enlightener of the Vyati (August 27)

Bishop Laurence the Recluse of Turov (January 29)

Monk Luke the Steward (November 6)

Monk Macarius (January 19)

Monk Mark the Grave-digger (December 29)

Monk Matthew the Clairvoyant (October 5)

Bishop Mercurius of Smolensk (August 7)

Martyr Moses the Hungarian (July 26)

Monk Nectarius the Obedient (November 29)

Monk Nestor the Chronicler (October 27)

Monk Nicholas Svyatosha, Prince of Chernigov (October 14)

Monk Nicodemus the Prosphora-baker (October 31)

Igumen Nikon (March 23)

Monk Nikon the Shriveled (December 11)

Bishop Niphon of Novgorod (April 8)

Monk Onesimus the Recluse (October 4 and July 21)

Monk Onesiphorus the Confessor (November 9)

Monk Onuphrius the Silent (July 21)

Monk Pimen the Faster (August 27)

Monk Pimen the Much-Ailing (August 7)

Archmandrite Polycarp (July 24)

Monk Prochorus the Orach-eater (February 10)

Monk Sava the God-pleasing (April 24)

Monk Sergius the Obedient (October 7)

Monk Simon, Bishop of Suzdal (May 10)

Monk Sisoes the Recluse (October 24)

Monk Spyridon the Prosphora-baker (October 31)

Monk Sylvester the Wonderworker (January 2)

Monk Theophanes the Faster (October 11)

Monks Theophilus the Mourner (December 29)

Monk Theophilus the Recluse (October 24)

Hieromonk Titus (February 27)

Twelve Master Architects of Constantinople who painted the monastery church of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos (February 14)

Besides these Saints, there are thirty other Saints among the monks of the Kiev Caves, whose myrrh-producing heads were preserved. In the Service to the Monastic Fathers of the Near Caves on September 28 St Ephraim the Priest is mentioned (Ode 9). The hieromonk Athanasius Kalpophyisky wrote in 1638, that his incorrupt body, clothed in priestly vestments, lay opposite the relics of St Elias of Murom. Hieromonk Athanasius also mentions St Eustathius, (Ode 8), who was a goldsmith before he came to the monastery.

In the Canon of Meletius the Orphan, St Dionysius, Archbishop of Suzdal (June 26 and also October 15) is also mentioned. The holy hierarch was detained by the Lithuanian prince at Kiev after his consecration as Metropolitan of Moscow by the Patriarch of Constantinople. He died on October 15, 1384 and was buried in the Antoniev Cave.

Besides the monks mentioned in the Services, the hieromonk Athanasius Kalpophyisky in his Manuscript of 1638 indicated even more Saints, whose uncovered relics they venerated: St Hieronymos, Recluse and Wonderworker; St Meladius, holy Elder and Wonderworker; St Pergius, holy Elder; St Paul, a monk of remarkable obedience.

The names of the priests St Meletius, St Serapion, St Philaretos, St Peter are preserved in the old manuscript Calendars.

On May 24,1853, in one of the branches of the Near Caves, an inscription was discovered on an eleventh century crypt: “Lord, preserve Thy servants Theodosius and Theophilus. Many Years.” “The Grave of the Cave-Dweller John. Here John the sinner lived and is now.” On an oak board: “John the Cave-Dweller.” Thus the names of the new Kiev Caves Fathers: Theophilus, Theodosius and John were revealed.

There is also a general commemoration of the Monks of the Near Caves together with the Monks of the Far Caves on the second Sunday of Great Lent, when the Synaxis of all the Monastic Fathers of Kiev Caves is celebrated. The Canon of the Hieromonk Meletius the Orphan enters into the Service of that feastday (the Service to the Kiev Caves Monastic Fathers, and to all the Saints who shone forth in Little Russia, inscribed from Akathists with a Canon). The service was printed by the Kiev Caves Dormition Lavra in 1866.

Without doubt, not all the names of the Fathers of the Kiev Caves are known. In the Synaxis, all the Fathers illumined by ascetic deeds in the Caves are glorified. In the Oikos of the Service of September 28 we sing: “Who can praise Your Saints, O Good One? I try to count their number, but they are multiplied more than the sands of the sea. O Master Christ, Who have numbered the stars and named them all, grant their petitions for us...”


Venerable Chariton of Syanzhemsk, Vologda

Saint Euthymius and his disciple St Chariton lived at the River Syanzhema during the close of the fifteenth and the beginning of the sixteenth centuries. St Euthymius came to the Spasokamensk monastery from the outskirts of Volokolamsk. For a long time he continued as a novice at the monastery, but later he settled on the eastern shore of Lake Kuben near the mouth of the River Kushta.

The saint built a small cell in the impenetrable swamps and dense woods, where he struggled in total solitude. After a while, St Alexander of Kushta (June 9) came to him. He also had set out from the Spasokamensk monastery and at first settled at the River Syanzhema. St Alexander entreated St Euthymius to switch cells with him, since he was seeking a place of complete quiet.

Moving over to the River Syanzhema, St Euthymius did not refuse the local people his spiritual counsel and guidance. And there St Chariton also came to him.

St Euthymius built a church in honor of the Ascension of Christ and founded a monastery next to it. At Rostov, under the holy Archbishop Dionysius (1418-1425), he received the permission to build. Evidently, he was also ordained to the holy priesthood, and was made igumen of the monastery he established.

Both monks were an example to the brethren in prayer, and in the works of construction and supervision. They made do with food and clothing that even the brethren regarded as worthless. In church, St Euthymius stood in fear and trembling, and the brethren often saw tears of tenderness upon his face. While working at handicrafts, the saint always sang Psalms. St Euthymius died around the year 1465, though the actual day of his death is unknown.

His successor as igumen was his beloved disciple St Chariton. For more than forty years he continued the work at the monastery, and he died in old age on April 11, 1509. Both monks were buried at the Ascension church.

The memory of St Euthymius is celebrated also on January 20, and that of St Chariton on September 28, when their patron saints are commemorated.


Venerable Herodion the Abbot of Iloezersk

Saint Herodion of Elias Lake and Novgorod, was a disciple of St Cornelius of Komel (May 19, 1537). After the death of his mentor, he settled at Elias Lake, 20 kilometers from White Lake, and there on a peninsula he built himself a cell and established a church in honor of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos, marking the beginning of the Elias Lake Ozadsk monastery.

The monk was strict at fasting, he spent the nights at prayer and he received the Holy Mysteries every Saturday. An angel told the monk of his approaching end. He died as a schemamonk on September 28, 1541 and was buried in the chapel he had built.

The first icon of St Herodion was painted after his appearance to a certain Sophonios. Sophonios impiously thrust his staff into the grave of St Herodion and was struck blind, but after praying to the saint, he recovered his sight.

A short Life of St Herodion was written by Archimandrite Metrophanes of White Lake monastery, who in 1653, with the blessing of Metropolitan (afterwards Patriarch) Nikon, witnessed a miracle worked from the relics of St Herodion. Then an annual commemoration of the saint was established. At the place of the chapel of St Herodion a church was built in honor of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos together with a chapel dedicated to St Herodion of Elias Lake.


Prophet Baruch

The Holy Prophet Baruch was an inseparable companion, disciple, friend and scribe of the great Prophet Jeremiah (May 1). He wrote an entire scroll of his prophetic sayings and read them to the people in the Temple of Jerusalem. Together with his teacher, St Baruch grievously lamented the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, and he taught and censured the Jews, and he suffered spite and vexation from them. He witnessed the stoning of the holy Prophet Jeremiah, and buried his body.

After the martyr’s death of the Prophet Jeremiah, St Baruch lived a short while and died in Egypt, in the sixth century before Christ. The holy Prophet Baruch prophesied the return of the Jews from the Babylonian Captivity, and the desolation of Babylon. He clearly prophesied the coming into the world of the Son of God, Who would “dwell with mankind.” His prophecy begins with the words, “He is our God, and no other can compare with Him” (Bar 3:36).

The Book of the Prophet Baruch is regarded as uncanonical and is appended to the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah. On the eve of the Nativity of Christ it is read as one of the Old Testament readings, listed as a prophecy of Jeremiah.


Martyr Alexander and 30 others in Pisidia and Phrygia

The Holy Martyrs Alexander, Alpheius, Zosimus, Mark the Shepherd, Nikon, Neon, Heliodorus and others suffered for confessing the Christian Faith in various places of Asia Minor during the reign of Diocletian (284-305).

St Mark, a shepherd, was arrested for his open confession of the Christian Faith in Pisidian Antioch. The thirty soldiers guarding him were converted by St Mark, and they were beheaded at Nicea, but St Mark was sentenced to tortures.

The brothers Sts Alexander, Alpheius and Zosimus were blacksmiths from the settlement of Katalitea, or Kalitea. They were summoned to forge the instruments of torture which would be used on St Mark the Shepherd. The iron did not melt and fuse, however, and the hands of the blacksmiths grew numb. Hearing a voice summoning them to suffer with St Mark, the brothers believed in Christ.

After fierce torture they poured molten tin down their throats. After enduring many tortures, St Mark was beheaded at Claudiopolis. When they carried the head of the holy martyr into the pagan temple of Artemis, all the idols fell down and were smashed. The witnesses of this miracle, Nikon, Neon, Heliodorus and other young men and women, believed in Christ, confessed their faith and died martyrs at Maromilium.


Martyr Alpheius and 30 others in Pisidia and Phrygia

The Holy Martyrs Alexander, Alpheius, Zosimus, Mark the Shepherd, Nikon, Neon, Heliodorus and others suffered for confessing the Christian Faith in various places of Asia Minor during the reign of Diocletian (284-305).

The brothers Sts Alexander, Alpheius and Zosimus were blacksmiths from the settlement of Katalitea, or Kalitea. They were summoned to forge the instruments of torture which would be used on St Mark the Shepherd. The iron did not melt and fuse, however, and the hands of the blacksmiths grew numb. Hearing a voice summoning them to suffer with St Mark, the brothers believed in Christ.

After enduring fierce torments, they had molten tin poured down their throats, thereby winning a crown of martyrdom.


Martyr Zosimus and 30 Others in Pisidia and Phrygia

The Holy Martyrs Alexander, Alpheius, Zosimus, Mark the Shepherd, Nikon, Neon, Heliodorus and others suffered for confessing the Christian Faith in various places of Asia Minor during the reign of Diocletian (284-305).

Sts Alexander, Alpheius and Zosimus were brothers who were blacksmiths from the settlement of Katalitea, or Kalitea. They were summoned to forge the instruments of torture to be used on St Mark the Shepherd. The iron did not melt and fuse, however, and the hands of the blacksmiths grew numb. Hearing a voice summoning them to suffer with St Mark, the brothers believed in Christ.

After enduring fierce torments, they had molten tin poured down their throats, thereby winning a crown of martyrdom.


Martyr Mark and 30 Others in Pisidia and Phrygia

The Holy Martyrs Alexander, Alpheius, Zosimus, Mark the Shepherd, Nikon, Neon, Heliodorus and others suffered for confessing the Christian Faith in various places of Asia Minor during the reign of Diocletian (284-305).

St Mark, a shepherd, was arrested for his open confession of the Christian Faith in Pisidian Antioch. The thirty soldiers guarding him were converted by St Mark, and they were beheaded at Nicea, but St Mark was sentenced to tortures.

The brothers Sts Alexander, Alpheius and Zosimus were blacksmiths from the settlement of Katalitea, or Kalitea. They were summoned to forge the instruments of torture which would be used on St Mark the Shepherd. The iron did not melt and fuse, however, and the hands of the blacksmiths grew numb. Hearing a voice summoning them to suffer with St Mark, the brothers believed in Christ.

After fierce torture they poured molten tin down their throats. After enduring many tortures, St Mark was beheaded at Claudiopolis. When they carried the head of the holy martyr into the pagan temple of Artemis, all the idols fell down and were smashed. The witnesses of this miracle, Nikon, Neon, Heliodorus and other young men and women, believed in Christ, confessed their faith and died martyrs at Maromilium.


Martyr Nikon and 30 others in Pisidia and Phrygia

The Holy Martyrs Alexander, Alpheius, Zosimus, Mark the Shepherd, Nikon, Neon, Heliodorus and others suffered for confessing the Christian Faith in various places of Asia Minor during the reign of Diocletian (284-305).

Saints Nikon, Neon, Heliodorus and other young men and women saw all the idols in the temple of Artemis fall down and smash to pieces when they carried the head of St Mark the Shepherd inside. They believed in Christ, confessed their faith and died as martyrs at Maromilium.


Martyr Neon and 30 others in Pisidia and Phrygia

The Holy Martyrs Alexander, Alpheius, Zosimus, Mark the Shepherd, Nikon, Neon, Heliodorus and others suffered for confessing the Christian Faith in various places of Asia Minor during the reign of Diocletian (284-305).

Saints Nikon, Neon, Heliodorus and other young men and women saw all the idols in the temple of Artemis fall down and smash to pieces when they carried the head of St Mark the Shepherd inside. They believed in Christ, confessed their faith and died as martyrs at Maromilium.


Martyr Heliodorus and 30 others in Pisidia and Phrygia

The Holy Martyrs Alexander, Alpheius, Zosimus, Mark the Shepherd, Nikon, Neon, Heliodorus and others suffered for confessing the Christian Faith in various places of Asia Minor during the reign of Diocletian (284-305).

Saints Nikon, Neon, Heliodorus and other young men and women saw all the idols in the temple of Artemis fall down and smash to pieces when they carried the head of St Mark the Shepherd inside. They believed in Christ, confessed their faith and died as martyrs at Maromilium.


30 Martyrs in Pisidia and Phrygia

The Holy Martyrs Alexander, Alpheius, Zosimus, Mark the Shepherd, Nikon, Neon, Heliodorus and others suffered for confessing the Christian Faith in various places of Asia Minor during the reign of Diocletian (284-305).

St Mark, a shepherd, was arrested for his open confession of the Christian Faith in Pisidian Antioch. The thirty soldiers guarding him were converted by St Mark, and they were beheaded at Nicea, but St Mark was sentenced to tortures.

The brothers Sts Alexander, Alpheius and Zosimus were blacksmiths from the settlement of Katalitea, or Kalitea. They were summoned to forge the instruments of torture which would be used on St Mark the Shepherd. The iron did not melt and fuse, however, and the hands of the blacksmiths grew numb. Hearing a voice summoning them to suffer with St Mark, the brothers believed in Christ.

After fierce torture they poured molten tin down their throats. After enduring many tortures, St Mark was beheaded at Claudiopolis. When they carried the head of the holy martyr into the pagan temple of Artemis, all the idols fell down and were smashed. The witnesses of this miracle, Nikon, Neon, Heliodorus and other young men and women, believed in Christ, confessed their faith and died martyrs at Maromilium.


Martyr Wenceslaus the Prince of the Czechs

The Holy Prince Wenceslaus (Vyacheslav) of the Czechs was a grandson of the holy Martyr and Princess Ludmilla (September 16), and he was raised by her in deep piety. He began to rule at age eighteen after the death of his father Prince Bratislav (+ 920).

In spite of his youthful age, he ruled wisely and justly and concerned himself much about the Christian enlightenment of the people. The holy prince was a widely educated man, and he studied in the Latin and Greek languages.

St Wenceslaus was peace-loving. He built and embellished churches, and in Prague, the Czech capital, he raised up a magnificent church in the name of St Vitus, and he had respect for the clergy. Envious nobles decided to murder the saint and, at first, to incite his mother against him, and later to urge his younger brother, Boleslav, to occupy the princely throne.

Boleslav invited his brother to the dedication of a church, and then asked him to stay another day. In spite of the warnings of his servants, the holy prince refused to believe in a conspiracy and exposed his life to the will of God. On the following day, September 28, 935, when Wenceslaus went to Matins, he was wickedly murdered at the doors of the church by his own brother and his brother’s servants. His body was stabbed and discarded without burial.

The mother, hearing of the murder of her son, found and placed his body in a recently consecrated church at the princely court. They were not able to wash off the blood splashed on the church doors, but after three days it disappeared by itself.

After repenting of his sin, the murderer transferred the relics of St Wenceslaus to Prague, where they were placed in the church of St Vitus, which the martyr himself had constructed (the transfer of the relics of St Wenceslaus is celebrated on March 4). The memory of Prince Wenceslaus has been honored from of old in the Russian Orthodox Church.


Venerable Schemamonk Cyril the Father of the Venerable Sergius of Radonezh

Saint Cyril and his wife Maria were the parents of St Sergius of Radonezh (September 25). They belonged to the nobility, but more importantly, they were pious and faithful Christians who were adorned with every virtue.

When the child in Maria’s womb cried out three times in church during Liturgy, people were astonished. Although frightened at first, Maria came to see this event as a sign from God that her child would become a chosen vessel of divine grace. She and her husband agreed that if the child was a boy, they would bring him to church and dedicate him to God. This child, the second of their three sons, was born around 1314. He was named Bartholomew at his baptism.

Because of civil strife, St Cyril moved his family from Rostov to Radonezh when Bartholomew was still a boy.

Later, when their son expressed a desire to enter the monastic life, Sts Cyril and Maria asked him to wait and take care of them until they passed away, because his brothers Stephen and Peter were both married and had their own family responsibilities. The young Bartholomew obeyed his parents, and did everything he could to please them. They later decided to retire to separate monasteries, and departed to the Lord after a few years. It is believed that Sts Cyril and Maria both reposed in 1337.

Forty days after burying his parents, Bartholomew settled their estate, giving his share to his brother Peter. He then went to the monastery when he was twenty-three years old, and was tonsured on October 7 with the name Sergius (in honor of the martyr St Sergius who is commemorated on that day). As everyone knows, St Sergius of Radonezh became one of Russia’s greatest and most revered saints.

St Cyril was glorified by the Orthodox Church of Russia in 1992. He is also commemorated on January 18, and on July 6 (Synaxis of the Saints of Radonezh).


Venerable Schema-nun Maria the Mother of the Venerable Sergius of Radonezh

Saint Maria and her husband Cyril were the parents of St Sergius of Radonezh (September 25). They belonged to the nobility, but more importantly, they were pious and faithful Christians who were adorned with every virtue.

When the child in her womb cried out three times in church during Liturgy, people were astonished. Although frightened at first, Maria came to see this event as a sign from God that her child would become a chosen vessel of divine grace. She and her husband agreed that if the child was a boy, they would bring him to church and dedicate him to God. This child, the second of their three sons, was born around 1314. He was named Bartholomew at his baptism.

Because of civil strife, the family moved from Rostov to Radonezh when Bartholomew was still a boy.

Later, when their son expressed a desire to enter the monastic life, Sts Cyril and Maria asked him to wait and take care of them until they passed away, because his brothers Stephen and Peter were both married and had their own family responsibilities. The young Bartholomew obeyed his parents, and did everything he could to please them. They later decided to retire to separate monasteries, and departed to the Lord after a few years. It is believed that Sts Cyril and Maria both reposed in 1334.

Forty days after burying his parents, Bartholomew settled their estate, giving his share to his brother Peter. He then went to the monastery when he was twenty-three years old, and was tonsured on October 7 with the name Sergius (in honor of the martyr St Sergius who is commemorated on that day). As everyone knows, St Sergius of Radonezh became one of Russia’s greatest and most revered saints.

St Maria was glorified by the Orthodox Church of Russia in 1992. She is also commemorated on January 18, and on July 6 (Synaxis of the Saints of Radonezh).


Venerable Anthony of the Kiev Near Caves

No information available at this time.


Venerable Prochorus the Wonderworker

Saint Prochorus of the Caves was a native of Smolensk, and entered the Kiev Caves monastery under the igumen John (1089-1103). He was a great ascetic of strict temperance. In place of bread he ate pigweed (or orach), and so he was called “pigweed-eater.” Every summer, he gathered pigweed and made enough bread from it to last him for a whole year. He also ate prosphora from church now and then, and his only drink was water. Seeing the patience of St Prochorus, God transformed the usual bitterness of the pigweed into sweetness.


St John the Faster

No information available at this time.


Blessed Virgin Princess Juliana of Olshansk

Uncovering of the Relics of Righteous Virgin Juliana, Princess of Olshansk: St Juliana lived during the first quarter of the sixteenth century. Her father, Prince Yurii Dubrovitsky-Olshansky, was one of the benefactors of the Kiev Caves Lavra. The righteous maiden died at the age of sixteen. Her body, buried at the Kiev Caves Lavra near the great church, was found incorrupt in the time of Archimandrite Elisha Pletenets (1599-1624). The holy relics were burned in a fire at the great church in the year 1718, but the relics were put in a reliquary and placed in the Near Caves. Archimandrite Peter Moghila (afterwards Metropolitan of Kiev), to whom the saint appeared in a dream, reproaching him for lack of attention to her grave, ordered a new reliquary to be made. On the reliquary was the inscription: “By the will of the Creator of heaven and earth doth dwell for all years Juliana, patroness and great intercessor to Heaven. Here are the bones ... healing against all passions ... You adorn Paradise, Juliana, like a beautiful flower ...”


Venerable Martyr Basil of the Kiev Near Caves

The Hieromartyrs Theodore and Basil of the Caves pursued asceticism in the eleventh century in the Near Caves of Kiev. St Theodore distributed his riches to the poor, went to the monastery and settled into the Varangian Cave, adjoining the Caves of St Theodosius. He dwelt here many years in strict temperance.

When the Enemy aroused sorrow in him for giving away his possessions, St Basil comforted him: “I implore you, brother Theodore, do not forget the reward. If you want to have possessions, take everything that is mine.” St Theodore repented and dearly loved St Basil, with whom he lived in the cell.

Once, St Basil was on an errand outside the monastery for three months. The devil, having assumed his form, appeared to St Theodore and indicated that there was a treasure hidden somewhere in the cave by robbers. The monk still wanted to leave the monastery to buy possessions to live in the world. When St Basil returned, the demonic illusion disappeared. From that time, St Theodore started to be more attentive to himself. In order not to be distracted by idle thoughts during moments of inactivity, he set up a millstone, and by night he ground grain. Thus, by long and zealous ascetic action he freed himself from the passion of avarice.

A report reached Prince Mstislav Svyatopolkovich that St Theodore had found much treasure in the cave. He summoned the monk to him and commanded him to show him the spot where the valuables were hidden. St Theodore told the prince that indeed he had once seen gold and precious vessels in the cave, but fearing temptation, he and St Basil had buried the treasure, and God took from him the memory of where it was hidden.

Not believing the saint, the prince gave orders to torture him to death. They beat St Theodore so much that his hair-shirt was wet with blood, and then they suspended him head-downwards, lighting a fire beneath him. In a drunken condition the prince commanded them to torture St Basil also, and then to kill him with an arrow. Dying, the martyr Basil threw the arrow at the feet of Prince Mstislav and predicted that he himself would soon be mortally wounded by it. The prophecy was fulfilled on July 15, 1099 during an internecine war with David Igorevich. On the wall of the Vladimir fortress, Prince Mstislav was suddenly struck in the chest by an arrow through an opening in the timbers, and on the following night he died. Recognizing his own arrow, the prince said: “I die because of the monastic martyrs Basil and Theodore.”


Venerable Martyr Theodore of the Kiev Near Caves

The Hieromartyrs Theodore and Basil of the Caves pursued asceticism in the eleventh century in the Near Caves of Kiev. St Theodore distributed his riches to the poor, went to the monastery and settled into the Varangian Cave, adjoining the Caves of St Theodosius. He dwelt here many years in strict temperance.

When the Enemy aroused sorrow in him for giving away his possessions, St Basil comforted him: “I implore you, brother Theodore, do not forget the reward. If you want to have possessions, take everything that is mine.” St Theodore repented and dearly loved St Basil, with whom he lived in the cell.

Once, St Basil was on an errand outside the monastery for three months. The devil, having assumed his form, appeared to St Theodore and indicated that there was a treasure hidden somewhere in the cave by robbers. The monk still wanted to leave the monastery to buy possessions to live in the world. When St Basil returned, the demonic illusion disappeared. From that time, St Theodore started to be more attentive to himself. In order not to be distracted by idle thoughts during moments of inactivity, he set up a millstone, and by night he ground grain. Thus, by long and zealous ascetic action he freed himself from the passion of avarice.

A report reached Prince Mstislav Svyatopolkovich that St Theodore had found much treasure in the cave. He summoned the monk to him and commanded him to show him the spot where the valuables were hidden. St Theodore told the prince that indeed he had once seen gold and precious vessels in the cave, but fearing temptation, he and St Basil had buried the treasure, and God took from him the memory of where it was hidden.

Not believing the saint, the prince gave orders to torture him to death. They beat St Theodore so much that his hair-shirt was wet with blood, and then they suspended him head-downwards, lighting a fire beneath him. In a drunken condition the prince commanded them to torture St Basil also, and then to kill him with an arrow. Dying, the martyr Basil threw the arrow at the feet of Prince Mstislav and predicted that he himself would soon be mortally wounded by it. The prophecy was fulfilled on July 15, 1099 during an internecine war with David Igorevich. On the wall of the Vladimir fortress, Prince Mstislav was suddenly struck in the chest by an arrow through an opening in the timbers, and on the following night he died. Recognizing his own arrow, the prince said: “I die because of the monastic martyrs Basil and Theodore.”


Archimandrite Polycarp of the Caves

No information available at this time.


Igumen Barlaam of the Caves

Saint Barlaam, Igumen of the Kiev Caves, lived during the eleventh century at Kiev, and was the son of an illustrious noble. From the time of his youth, he yearned for the monastic life and he went to St Anthony of the Caves (July 10), who accepted the pious youth so firmly determined to become a monk, and he bade St Nikon (March 23) to tonsure him.

St Barlaam’s father tried to return him home by force, but finally became convinced that his son would never return to the world, so he gave up. When the number of monks at the Caves began to increase, St Anthony made St Barlaam igumen, while he himself moved to another cave and again began to live in solitude.

St Barlaam became the first igumen of the Kiev Caves monastery. In the year 1058, after asking St Anthony’s blessing, St Barlaam built a wooden church in honor of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos. Afterwards, St Barlaam became igumen of the newly-formed monastery in honor of the Great Martyr Demetrius.

St Barlaam twice went on pilgrimage to the holy places in Jerusalem and Constantinople. After he returned from his second journey, he died in the Vladimir Holy Mountain monastery at Volhynia in 1065 and was buried, in accord with his final wishes, at the Caves monastery in the Near Caves. His memory is celebrated September 28 and on the second Sunday of Great Lent.


St Damian the Priest and Healer of the Kiev Near Caves

Saint Damian the Presbyter of the Near Caves of St Anthony, was mentioned by St Nestor the Chronicler (October 27).

St Damian remembered the Baptism of Rus (in 988). This zealous imitator of St Theodosius (May 3) was gentle, industrious and obedient, to the joy of all the brethren. He spent the entire night at prayer and reading the Divine Scriptures. St Damian was strict in fasting and ate nothing but bread and water. The Lord rewarded him with the gift of healing ailments.

St Damian the Healer is also commemorated on October 5.

The general troparion to these saints is: “Your hearts were enlightened with the light of Christ’s commandments, and you dispelled the dread darkness. Like an abode of the Trinity, from whom we receive grace, O Fathers Damian, Jeremiah and Matthew, you heal the infirm, and you announce the future in the communion with the angels, We pray you to intercede with Christ God to grant to us the communion of the saints.” Their memory is also on September 28 and the second Sunday of Great Lent.


Venerable Nicodemus the Prosphora Baker of the Kiev Near Caves

Saints Spyridon and Nicodemus, the Prosphora-bakers of the Kiev Caves, Near Caves fulfilled their obedience of baking prosphora for thirty years. St Spyridon came to the monastery in the time of Igumen Pimen (1132-1141), when he was no longer a young man. The ascetic combined his work with unceasing prayer and the singing of Psalms. Even during his life St Spyridon was glorified by miracles. He was illiterate, but knew the entire Psalter by heart.

Once, his mantle caught fire from the oven. The fire was put out, but the mantle remained whole. St Nicodemus toiled together with St Spyridon and led a very strict life. Their relics are in the Kiev Caves of St Anthony. The fingers of St Spyridon’s right hand are positioned to make the Sign of the Cross with three fingers. They are also commemorated on September 28, and the second Sunday of Great Lent.


St Laurence the Recluse and Bishop of Turov

Saint Laurence, Hermit of the Caves and Bishop of Turov, in the Near Caves at first lived as a hermit at the monastery of the Great Martyr Demetrius, built by Great Prince Izyaslav at Kiev near the Monastery of the Caves. Later, he transferred to the Kiev Caves monastery, and was glorified by a gift of healing.

He was elevated to the See of Turov in 1182 (Turov is a city in the Minsk region), and was a successor of St Cyril of Turov (April 28). He died in 1194, and was buried in the Near Caves. His memory is celebrated also on September 28 and on the second Sunday of Great Lent.


St Athanasius the Recluse of the Kiev Near Caves

Saint Athanasius, Hermit of the Kiev Caves, Near Caves, was a contemporary of the archimandrite St Polykarp (July 24) of the Kiev Caves. St Athanasius was grievously ill for a long time. When he died, the brethren prepared him for burial, and on the third day the igumen came to bury him. However, they all saw the dead man alive. He was sitting up and weeping. To all their questions he replied only: “Seek salvation, obey the igumen in everything, repent each hour and pray to our Lord Jesus Christ, to His All-Pure Mother and to Sts Anthony and Theodosius, to allow you to end your life here. Do not ask me anything else, for I must pray” (There is a similar story of St Hesychius [October 3] in THE LADDER of St John Climacus, Step 6).

After this he lived for twelve years more in solitude in a cave. During that time he spoke not a word to anyone. He wept day and night, and partook of a little bread and water only every other day. Just before his death, he assembled the brethren, and repeated his earlier words to them, and then he peacefully departed unto the Lord (in about the year 1176).

The monk Babylas, who had suffered illness and an infirmity of the legs for many years, was healed at his relics. “As I lay there,” he related told the brethren, “ I cried out in pain. Suddenly, St Athanasius appeared to me and said, ‘Come to me, and I shall heal you.’ I wanted to ask him how and when he had returned here, but he became invisible. I believed his words and asked to be taken to his relics. And indeed, I have been healed.” St Athanasius was buried in the Antoniev Cave. His memory is celebrated also on September 28 and on the second Sunday of Great Lent.


St Erasmus of the Kiev Near Caves

Saint Erasmus of the Kiev Caves St Simon, Bishop of Vladimir (May 10), wrote about him to his friend St Polycarp (July 24): “At the Caves was Erasmus the black-robed. He acquired a legacy of fame because he used everything he possessed for the adornment of the monastery church. He donated many icons, which even now may be seen over the altar.

The saint experienced great temptations after he had given away his wealth. The Evil One began to suggest to him that he should have given the money to the poor, rather than spend it on the beautification of the church. St Erasmus did not understand such thoughts, so he fell into despondency and began to live in a careless manner. Because of his former virtue the gracious and merciful God saved him. He sent him a grievous illness, and the monk lay near death.

In this sickness Erasmus lay for seven days, unable to see or speak, and hardly breathing. On the eighth day the brethren came to him and, seeing the difficulty of his approaching death, said, “Woe to the soul of this brother, for he lived in idleness and in sin. Now his soul beholds something and tarries, not having the strenght to leave the body.”

Erasmus suddenly got up, as though he had not been ill, and said to the monks, “Fathers and brethren! It is true that I am a sinner, and have not repented, as you said. Today, however, our monastic fathers Anthony and Theodosius have appeared to me, and said: ‘We have prayed for you, and the Lord has given you time for repentance.’ Then I saw the All-Pure Mother of God with Christ in Her arms, and She said to me, ‘Erasmus, since you adorned My Church with icons, I will also adorn you and exalt you in the Kingdom of my Son! Arise, repent, take the angelic schema, and on the third day you will be taken from this life.’

Having said this, Erasmus began to confess his sins before all without shame, then went to church and was clothed in the schema, and on the third day he died.” St Erasmus was buried in the Near Caves. His memory is also celebrated on September 28 and on the second Sunday of Great Lent.


Venerable Menignus the Steward of the Caves

No information available at this time.


St Agapitus the Doctor of the Kiev Near Caves

St Agapitus of the Caves. This Unmercenary Physician was born at Kiev. He was a novice and disciple of St Anthony of the Caves, and lived during the eleventh century. If any of the monastic brethren fell ill, St Agapitus came to him and selflessly attended to the sick one. He fed his patient boiled herbs which he himself prepared, and the person recovered through the prayers of the saint. Many laymen also turned to the monastic physician with the gift of healing.

In Kiev at this time was an experienced Armenian physician, who was able to diagnose the nature of the illness and even accurately determine the day of death just by looking at a patient. When one of these doomed patients turned to St Agapitus, the grace-bearing healer gave him some food from the monastery trapeza (dining area), and the patient became well. Enflamed with envy, the physician wanted to poison St Agapitus, but the Lord preserved him, and the poison had no effect.

St Agapitus healed Prince Vladimir Monomakh of Chernigov, the future Great Prince of Kiev (1114-1125), by sending him boiled herbs. The grateful prince went to the monastery and wanted to see his healer, but the humble ascetic hid himself and would not accept gifts.

When the holy healer himself became sick, that same Armenian physician came to him and after examining him, he said that he would die in three days. He swore to became an Orthodox monk if his prediction were not fulfilled. The saint said that the Lord had revealed to him that He would summon him only after three months.

St Agapitus died after three months (on June 1, not later than 1095), and the Armenian went to the igumen of the Caves monastery and received monastic tonsure. “It is certain that Agapitus was a saint of God,” he said. “I well knew, that it was impossible for him to last three days in his sickness, but the Lord gave him three months.” Thus did the monk heal sickness of the soul and guide to the way of salvation.


St Alexis the Recluse of the Kiev Near Caves

Saint Alexis, Hermit of Caves, lived a life of asceticism in the Near Caves of the Kiev Caves monastery during the thirteenth century. His relics were uncovered after 1675. The memory of St Alexis is celebrated on April 24, because his relics rest beside the relics of St Sava of Caves. His memory is also celebrated on the Synaxis of the Monastic Fathers of the Near Caves (September 28) and on the Synaxis of all the Wonderworkers of the Kiev Caves (Second Sunday of Great Lent).


Venerable Sava of the Kiev Near Caves

Saint Sava of the Caves lived in the Near Caves of the Kiev Caves monastery during the thirteenth century. In the manuscripts, in the “Book of the Saints,” and in the Canon of the Services to the Fathers of the Kiev Caves, he is called a wonderworker.

His memory is celebrated on April 24 because of his namesake, the Holy Martyr Sava Stratelates. The memory of St Sava is also celebrated on the Synaxis of the Monastic Fathers of the Near Caves (September 28), and on the Synaxis of all the Wonderworkers of the Kiev Caves (Second Sunday of Great Lent).


Venerable Sergius the Obedient of the Kiev Near Caves

Saint Sergius the Obedient of the Kiev Caves, Near Caves, was a Greek who began his monastic life on Mount Athos. Later, he came to Russia and settled in the monastery of the Life-Giving Trinity under the guidance of the venerable Sergius of Radonezh (July 5) and (September 25). After several years, with the blessing of the igumen, St Sergius went into the Vologda forests and settled at the bank of the River Nurma. There he set up a cross and built a chapel with a cell, in which he lived an ascetical life in deep silence, “going forth in angelic life”, and patiently enduring temptation from demons and malevolent people.

It pleased the Lord to summon the saint from his solitude, so that in his attainment of wisdom and spiritual experience he should serve for the salvation of others. From various places forty men gathered around him, thirsting for the spiritual life. By their common efforts, the brethren built a large church in honor of the Procession of the Venerable Wood of the Life-Creating Cross of the Lord (August 1). The monastic cells were built around the church.

St Paul of Obnora (January 10) led an ascetical life about three miles from the Nurma monastery, and St Sergius often visited him for soul-profiting conversation. When it was time for St Sergius to go back to his monastery, St Paul would accompany him for two-thirds of the way. Later, a chapel was built to mark the place where they parted. St Sergius died on October 7, 1412. Since 1546, the Church has venerated him for his saintly life.


St Mecurius the Bishop of Smolensk

No information available at this time.


Venerable Pimen the Long-Suffering of the Kiev Near Caves

Saint Pimen the Much-ailing attained the Kingdom of Heaven by enduring grievous illness. This Russian ascetic was both born and grew up sickly, but his illness preserved him from illness of the soul.

For a long time he besought his parents to send him to the Kiev Caves monastery. When they brought their son to the famed monastery, they then began to pray for him to be healthy. But the sufferer himself, conscious of the high value of suffering, instead asked the Lord both for the continuation of his sickness, and also his tonsuring into monasticism.

One night, radiant angels appeared in the guise of monks, and tonsured him. They told him that he would receive his health only on the day of his death. Several of the brethren heard the sound of singing, and coming to St Pimen, they found him attired in monastic garb. In his hand he held a lit candle, and his tonsured hair could be seen at the crypt of St Theodosius. St Pimen spent many years in sickness, so that those attending to him could not tolerate it. They often left him without food and water for two or three days at a time, but he endured everything with joy.

Compassionate towards the brethren, St Pimen healed a certain crippled brother, who promised to serve him until death if he were healed. But after a while the brother grew lax in his service, and his former ailment overtook him. St Pimen again healed him with the advice, that both the sick and those attending the sick receive equal reward.

St Pimen spent twenty years in grievous sufferings. One day, as the angels had predicted, he became healthy. In church, the monk took leave of all the brethren and partook of the Holy Mysteries. Then, having bowed down before the grave of Abba Anthony, St Pimen indicated the place for his burial, and he himself carried his bed there.

Pointing to those buried there, one after the other of the monks, and he predicted that the brethren would find one buried in the schema to be without it, since this monk had led a life unworthy of it. Another monk, who had been buried without the schema, would be found clothed in it after death, since he had greatly desired it during his life, and he was worthy.

Then St Pimen lay down upon his bed and fell asleep in the Lord. The brethren buried him with great honor, glorifying God.

After the death of St Pimen, the brethren were persuaded of the truth of his words. On the day of St Pimen’s repose, three fiery columns appeared over the trapeza, and moved atop the church. A similar event was described in the chronicles under February 11, 1110 (See the August 5 commemoration of St Theoctistus of Chernigov), therefore the day of demise of St Pimen is surmised as also occurring on February 11, 1110.

The relics of St Pimen rest in the Antoniev Cave.

A second commemoration of the saint is made on September 28, the Synaxis of the Monks of the Near Caves.


Venerable Nestor the Chronicler of the Kiev Near Caves

Saint Nestor the Chronicler, of the Kiev Caves, Near Caves was born at Kiev in 1050. He came to St Theodosius (May 3) as a young man, and became a novice. St Nestor took monastic tonsure under the successor to St Theodosius, the igumen Stephen, and under him was ordained a hierodeacon.

Concerning his lofty spiritual life it says that, with a number of other monastic Fathers he participated in the casting out of a devil from Nikita the Hermit (January 31), who had become fascinated by the Hebrew wisdom of the Old Testament. St Nestor deeply appreciated true knowledge, along with humility and penitence. “Great is the benefit of book learning,” he said, “for books point out and teach us the way to repentance, since from the words of books we discover wisdom and temperance. This is the stream, watering the universe, from which springs wisdom. In books is a boundless depth, by them we are comforted in sorrows, and they are a bridle for moderation. If you enter diligently into the books of wisdom, then you shall discover great benefit for your soul. Therefore, the one who reads books converses with God or the saints.”

In the monastery St Nestor had the obedience of being the chronicler. In the 1080s he wrote the “Account about the Life and Martyrdom of the Blessed Passion Bearers Boris and Gleb” in connection with the transfer of the relics of the saints to Vyshgorod in the year 1072 (May 2). In the 1080s St Nestor also compiled the Life of the Monk Theodosius of the Kiev Caves. And in 1091, on the eve of the patronal Feast of the Kiev Caves Monastery, he was entrusted by Igumen John to dig up the holy relics of St Theodosius (August 14) for transfer to the church.

The chief work in the life of St Nestor was compiling in the years 1112-1113 The Russian Primary Chronicle. “Here is the account of years past, how the Russian land came to be, who was the first prince at Kiev and how the Russian land is arrayed.” The very first line written by St Nestor set forth his purpose. St Nestor used an extraordinarily wide circle of sources: prior Russian chronicles and sayings, monastery records, the Byzantine Chronicles of John Malalos and George Amartolos, various historical collections, the accounts of the boyar-Elder Ivan Vyshatich and of tradesmen and soldiers, of journeymen and of those who knew. He drew them together with a unified and strict ecclesiastical point of view. This permitted him to write his history of Russia as an inclusive part of world history, the history of the salvation of the human race.

The monk-patriot describes the history of the Russian Church in its significant moments. He speaks about the first mention of the Russian nation in historical sources in the year 866, in the time of St Photius, Patriarch of Constantinople. He tells of the creation of the Slavonic alphabet and writing by Sts Cyril and Methodius; and of the Baptism of St Olga at Constantinople. The Chronicle of St Nestor has preserved for us an account of the first Orthodox church in Kiev (under the year 945), and of the holy Varangian Martyrs (under the year 983), of the “testing of the faiths” by St Vladimir (in 986) and the Baptism of Rus (in 988).

We are indebted to the first Russian Church historian for details about the first Metropolitans of the Russian Church, about the emergence of the Kiev Caves monastery, and about its founders and ascetics. The times in which St Nestor lived were not easy for the Russian land and the Russian Church. Rus lay torn asunder by princely feuds; the Polovetsian nomads of the steppes lay waste to both city and village with plundering raids. They led many Russian people into slavery, and burned churches and monasteries. St Nestor was an eyewitness to the devastation of the Kiev Caves monastery in the year 1096. In the Chronicle a theologically thought out patriotic history is presented. The spiritual depth, historical fidelity and patriotism of the The Russian Primary Chronicle establish it in the ranks of the significant creations of world literature.

St Nestor died around the year 1114, having left to the other monastic chroniclers of the Kiev Caves the continuation of his great work. His successors in the writing of the Chronicles were: Igumen Sylvester, who added contemporary accounts to the The Russian Primary Chronicle; Igumen Moses Vydubitsky brought it up to the year 1200; and finally, Igumen Laurence, who in the year 1377 wrote the most ancient of the surviving manuscripts that preserve the Chronicle of St Nestor (this copy is known as the “Lavrentian Chronicle”). The hagiographic tradition of the Kiev Caves ascetics was continued by St Simon, Bishop of Vladimir (May 10), the compiler of the Kiev Caves Paterikon. Narrating the events connected with the lives of the holy saints of God, St Simon often quotes, among other sources, from the Chronicle of St Nestor.

St Nestor was buried in the Near Caves of St Anthony. The Church also honors his memory in the Synaxis of the holy Fathers of the Near Caves commemorated September 28 and on the second Sunday of Great Lent when is celebrated the Synaxis of all the Fathers of the Kiev Caves. His works have been published many times, including in English as “The Russian Primary Chronicle”.


Martyr Eustratius of the Kiev Near Caves

Martyr Eustratius of the Caves was born in the eleventh century at Kiev into a wealthy family. As an adult, he received monastic tonsure at the Kiev Caves monastery, after giving away all his possesions to the poor. St Eustratius humbly underwent obediences at the monastery, strictly fulfilling the rule of prayer and passing his days in fasting and vigilance.

In 1096 the Polovetsians captured Kiev and ravaged the monastery of the Caves, doing away with many of the monks. St Eustratius was taken into captivity, and was sold into slavery with thirty monastic laborers and twenty inhabitants of Kiev to a certain Jew living in Korsun.

The impious Jew tried to make the captives to deny Christ, threatening to kill those who refused by starving them. St Eustratius encouraged and exhorted his brother Christians, “Brothers! Let none of us who are baptized and believe in Christ betray the vows made at Baptism. Christ has regenerated us through water and the Spirit. He has freed us from the curse of the Law by His Blood, and He has made us heirs of His Kingdom. If we live, we shall live for the Lord. If we die, we shall die in the Lord and inherit eternal life.”

Inspired by the saint’s words, the captives resolved to die of starvation, rather than renounce Christ, Who is the food and drink of Eternal Life. Exhausted by hunger and thirst, some captives perished after three days, some after four days, and some after seven days. St Eustratius remained alive for fourteen days, since he was accustomed to fasting from his youth. Suffering from hunger, he still did not touch food nor water. The impious Jew, seeing that he had lost the money he had paid for the captives, decided to take revenge on the holy monk.

The radiant Feast of the Resurrection of Christ drew near, and the Jewish slave owner was celebrating the Jewish Passover with his companions. He decided to crucify St Eustratius. The cruel tormentors mocked the saint, offering to let him share their Passover meal. The Martyr replied, “The Lord has now bestown a great grace upon me. He has permitted me to suffer on a cross for His Name just as He suffered.” The saint also predicted a horrible death for the Jew.

Hearing this, the enraged Jew grabbed a spear and stabbed St Eustratius on the cross. The martyr’s body was taken down from the cross and thrown into the sea. Christian believers long searched for the holy relics of the martyr, but were not able to find them. But through the Providence of God the incorrupt relics were found in a cave and worked many miracles. Later, they were transferred to the Near Caves of the Kiev Caves monastery.

The prediction of the holy Martyr Eustratius that his blood would be avenged was fulfilled soon after his death. The Byzantine Emperor issued a decree expelling all Jews from Korsun, depriving them of their property, and putting their elders to death for torturing Christians. The Jew who crucified St Eustratius was hanged on a tree, receiving just punishment for his wickedness.


St Helladius the Recluse of the Kiev Near Caves

Saint Helladius the Recluse of the Near Caves of St Anthony is also commemorated on October 4.


Venerable Jeremiah the Seer of the Kiev Near Caves

Saint Jeremiah the Clairvoyant was mentioned by St Nestor the Chronicler (October 27). He came to the Monastery of the Caves when he was already very old, and was tonsured by Sts Anthony and Theodosius.

Because of the virtue and holiness of his life, the Lord allowed St Jeremiah to see into the future, and to see into the moral condition of a person. If he saw an evil thought or sinful intention in anyone, he admonished them privately, and instructed them how to guard themselves from the temptations of the demons.

St Jeremiah also knew when a monk was thinking of leaving the monastery to return to the world. He would tell the brother that he knew of his intention, then comforted him and encouraged him to be patient and to remain firm in his monastic struggles.

He used his spiritual gifts for the benefit of the brethren, and went to the Lord at an advanced age.

The general troparion to these saints is: “Your hearts were enlightened with the light of Christ’s commandments, and you dispelled the dread darkness. Like an abode of the Trinity, from whom we receive grace, O Fathers Damian, Jeremiah and Matthew, you heal the infirm, and you announce the future in the communion with the angels, We pray you to intercede with Christ God to grant to us the communion of the saints.” Their memory is also on September 28 and the second Sunday of Great Lent.


Martyr Moses of Ugrin

Saint Moses the Hungarian of the Caves, was a brother of St Ephraim of Novy Torg (January 28), and of St George. Together with them he entered into the service of the holy Prince Boris (July 24). After the murder of St Boris in 1015 at the River Alta (St George also perished with him), St Moses fled and hid himself at Kiev with Predislava, sister of prince Yaroslav. In 1018, when the Polish king Boleslav seized Kiev, St Moses and his companions wound up in Poland as captives.

Tall and handsome, St Moses attracted the attention of a certain rich Polish widow, who burned with a passionate desire for him and wanted to ransom him from captivity and make him her husband. St Moses resolutely refused to exchange captivity for slavery to a wife. Despite his refusal, the Polish woman bought the captive.

She did everything in her power to seduce the youth, but he preferred hunger pains to banquets of food. Then the Polish woman began to convey St Moses through her lands, thinking to captivate him by power and riches. St Moses told her that he would not trade spiritual riches for the perishable things of this world, and that he wished to become a monk.

Passing through the area, an Athonite hieromonk tonsured St Moses a monk. The Polish woman gave orders to stretch St Moses on the ground and to beat him with iron rods, so that the ground became soaked with his blood. She sought permission of Boleslav to do with the captive all that she pleased. The shameless woman once gave orders to put St Moses in a bed with her. She kissed and embraced him, but she accomplished nothing by this.

St Moses said, “From the fear of God I loathe you as impure”. Hearing this, the Polish woman gave orders to give the saint each day a hundred lashes, and then to emasculate him. Boleslav soon began a persecution against all the monks in the land, but sudden death overtook him. A revolt arose in Poland, in which the widow also was killed.

Having recovered from his wounds, St Moses arrived at the Kiev Caves monastery, bearing on himself martyr’s wounds and a crown of a confessor and courageous warrior of Christ. The Lord provided him strength in his sufferings. A certain monastic brother, oppressed by impure passion, went to St Moses and sought his help, saying, “I promise to keep until death everything you tell me to do.” St Moses said: “As long as you live, do not speak a word to any woman.” The brother promised to obey the advice of the monk. St Moses had in his hand a staff, without which he was not able to walk because of the wounds which he had received. With this staff St Moses struck the chest of the brother who had approached him, and immediately he was delivered from temptation.

St Moses pursued asceticism at Kiev for 10 years; he died in about the year 1043 and was buried in the Near Caves. After venerating the saint’s holy relics and fervent prayer to him, the monks were healed of fleshly temptations.


Venerable John the Long-Suffering of the Kiev Near Caves

Saint John the Much-Suffering pursued asceticism at the Kiev Caves Lavra, accepting many sorrows for the sake of virginity.

The ascetic recalled that from the time of his youth he had suffered much, tormented by fleshly lust, and nothing could deliver him from it, neither hunger nor thirst nor heavy chains. He then went into the cave wherethe relics of St Anthony rested, and he fervently prayed to the holy Abba. After a day and a night the much-suffering John heard a voice: “John! It is necessary for you to become a recluse, in order to weaken the vexation by silence and seclusion, and the Lord shall help you by the prayers of His monastic saints.” The saint settled into the cave from that time, and only after thirty years did he conquer the fleshly passions.

Tense and fierce was the struggle upon the thorny way on which the monk went to victory. Sometimes the desire took hold of him to forsake his seclusion, but then he resolved on still greater effort. The holy warrior of Christ dug out a pit and with the onset of Great Lent he climbed into it, and he covered himself up to the shoulders with ground. He spent the whole of Lent in such a position, but the burning of his former passions did not leave him. The enemy of salvation brought terror upon the ascetic, wishing to expel him from the cave: a fearsome serpent, breathing fire and sparks, tried to swallow the saint. For several days these evil doings continued.

On the night of the Resurrection of Christ the serpent seized the head of the monk in its jaws. Then Saint John cried out from the depths of his heart: “O Lord my God and my Savior! Why have You forsaken me? Have mercy upon me, only Lover of Mankind; deliver me from my foul iniquity, so that I an not trapped in the snares of the Evil one. Deliver me from the mouth of my enemy: send down a flash of lightning and drive it away.” Suddenly a bolt of lightning flashed, and the serpent vanished. A Divine light shone upon the ascetic, and a Voice was heard: “John! Here is help for you. Be attentive from now on, that nothing worse happen to you, and that you do not suffer in the age to come.”

The saint prostrated himself and said: “Lord! Why did You leave me for so long in torment?” “I tried you according to the power of your endurance,” was the answer. “I brought upon you temptation, so that you might be purified like gold. It is to the strong and powerful servants that a master assigns the heavy work, and the easy tasks to the infirm and to the weak. Therefore pray to the one buried here (Moses the Hungarian), he can help you in this struggle, for he did greater deeds than Joseph the Fair” (March 31). The monk died in the year 1160, having acquired grace against profligate passions. His holy relics rest in the Caves of St Anthony.

We pray to St John for deliverance from sexual impurity.


Venerable Mark the Grave-Digger of the Kiev Near Caves

Saints Mark the Grave-Digger, Theophilus and John are mentioned in the Kiev Caves Paterikon. Two brothers being monastics, Sts Theophilus and John, so loved each other that they prevailed upon St Mark to prepare a double grave so they could be buried side by side.

Many years later, the older of the two brothers was away on monastery business. During this time his brother John fell ill and died. Several days later, St Theophilus returned and went with the brethren to view his brother’s body. Seeing that he lay at the higher place in their common grave, he became indignant with St Mark and said, “Why did you put him in my place? I am older than he.”

The cave-dweller Mark, bowed humbly to St Theophilus and asked that he forgive him. Turning to the dead man, he said, “Arise, give this place to your older brother, and you lie down in the other place.” And the dead man moved to the lower place in the grave. Seeing this, St Theophilus fell down at the knees of St Mark begging his forgiveness. The cave-dweller Mark told Theophilus that he ought to be concerned for his own salvation, because soon he would join his brother in that place.

Hearing this, St Theophilus became terrified and decided that he would soon die. He gave away everything that he possessed, keeping only his mantle, and every day he awaited the hour of death. No one was able to stop his tears, nor to tempt him with tasty food. Tears were his bread by day and by night (Ps 41/42:3). God granted him several years more for repentance, which he spent in fasting and lamentation. He even went blind from continuous weeping.

St Mark forsaw the hour of his death and told Theophilus he would soon depart this life. Theophilus pleaded, “Father, either take me with you, or restore my sight.” St Mark said to Theophilus, “Do not desire death, it shall come in its own time, even if you do not wish it. Let this be the sign of your impending end: three days before you depart this world, your eyesight will return.”

The words of the saint were fulfilled. The body of St Theophilus was placed in the Antoniev Cave in the grave together with his brother St John, near the relics of St Mark. Their memory is celebrated also on September 28 and on the second Sunday of Great Lent.


St Nicholas the Prince of Chernigov

Saint Nicholas Sviatosha, Prince of Chernigov, and Wonderworker of the Kiev Caves, Near Caves, was a great-grandson of Great Prince Yaroslav the Wise and son of Prince David Svyatoslavich of Chernigov (+ 1123). Nicholas was the Prince of Lutsk, and he had a wife and children (his daughter was later married to the Novgorod prince St Vsevolod-Gabriel (February 11).

On February 17, 1106 the holy prince, left his family and was tonsured at the Kiev Caves monastery. Nicholas Sviatosha carried out his obediences with great humility. For three years he worked in the kitchen, for which he chopped wood and carried water. For the next three years, he was gatekeeper at the monastery. The saint had a garden around his cell. Out of his own means he built at the monastery the temple of the Holy Trinity and the infirmary church in the name of St Nicholas, his patron saint.

St Nicholas was the first of the Russian princes to accept monasticism, patiently enduring the reproaches of his brothers for his decision to lead a life of humble obedience. The saint’s doctor, Peter, pointed out to the royal ascetic, that such exploits of obedience had injured his health. But suddenly the doctor himself fell sick, and was healed only by the prayer of St Nicholas. Then Peter himself was tonsured.

After he had progressed through various obediences, St Nicholas took upon himself the vow of silence. When the saint received money, he used it to beautify the church, and to procure books (because he loved reading), or he distributed it to the poor. St Nicholas was a zealous peacemaker, in 1142 he reconciled the Prince of Chernigov with the Great Prince Vsevolod.

Soon after the death of the saint, his brother Prince Izyaslav fell grievously ill. The igumen of the monastery sent the sick man the saint’s hairshirt. Izyaslav put it on and was healed.


Martyr George the Wonderworker of the Kiev Near Caves

No information available at this time.


Venerable Onesimus the Recluse of the Kiev Near Caves

Saint Onesimus the Recluse of the Near Caves is also commemorated on July 21 and October 4.


Venerable Matthew the Clairvoyant

Saint Matthew the Clairvoyant of the Near Caves of St Anthony is mentioned by St Nestor the Chronicler (October 27).

Because of his ascetical struggles, God permitted him to see the demons, and to know their evil plots and hidden snares. St Matthew also had several visions which he revealed to the brethren for their edification and salvation. Because of the gift of clairvoyance which he had received, the Elder was able to tell the brethren how to avoid the things which would endanger their souls.

Once, during Matins, he turned his gaze to St Nikon (March 23). Instead of seeing the igumen, however, he beheld a donkey. Later he told St Nikon of this vision, and he understood it at once. It seems that the igumen had fallen into the habit of arriving late for services. St Nikon corrected himself after hearing of St Matthew’s vision.

In the Iconographers’ Manual it says, “Matthew with the appearance of a clairvoyant Elder, with a black greyish beard like Vlas, in black klobuk, a monastic robe, hands pressed to the heart.”

The general troparion to these saints is: “Your hearts were enlightened with the light of Christ’s commandments, and you dispelled the dread darkness. Like an abode of the Trinity, from whom we receive grace, O Fathers Damian, Jeremiah and Matthew, you heal the infirm, and you announce the future in the communion with the angels, We pray you to intercede with Christ God to grant to us the communion of the saints.”

St Matthew is also commemorated on October 5 and the second Sunday of Great Lent.


Venerable Isaiah the Wonderworker of the Kiev Near Caves

Saint Isaiah was one of the saints of the Kiev Caves who struggled during the eleventh and twelfth centuries. He was known for his quietness and his unflagging toil, for which he is named a “lover-of-labor.”

The holy ascetic died in the year 1115, and his relics are in the Near Caves of the Kiev Caves Lavra. The commemoration of St Isaiah is on May 15, September 28, and on the second Sunday of Great Lent.


St Abraham the Lover of Labor of the Kiev Near Caves

St Abraham the Lover of Labor of the Near Caves of St Anthony is also commemorated on August 21


St Niphon the Bishop of Novgorod

Saint Niphon Bishop of Novgorod is also commemorated on April 8.


Venerable Sylvester the Wonderworker of the Kiev Near Caves

Saint Sylvester of the Caves lived during the twelfth century and was igumen of the Mikhailov Vydubitsk monastery at Kiev. He continued the work of St Nestor the Chronicler and he wrote nine Lives of the holy saints of the Kiev Caves. In the service to the Fathers venerated in the Near Caves, St Sylvester is called blessed and endowed with “a miraculous gift to ward off demonic suggestions (Ode 9 of the Canon). St Sylvester was buried in the Near Caves, and his memory is celebrated on September 28, and on the second Sunday of Great Lent.


Venerable Pimen the Faster of the Kiev Near Caves

The Hieromartyr Kuksha and Saint Pimen the Faster died after the year 1114. St Simon, Bishop of Vladimir and Suzdal (May 10), in a letter to St Polycarp, Archimandrite of the Caves (July 24), wrote of St Kuksha: “How can I worthily proclaim the glory of those saintly men dwelling in the holy Monastery of the Caves, in which pagans were baptized and became monks, and Jews accepted the holy Faith? But I cannot keep silent about the holy hieromartyr and Black-Robed Kuksha of this monastery. Everyone knows that he cast out devils, baptized the Vyatichi, caused it to rain, dried up a lake, performed many other miracles, and after many torments was killed together with his disciple Nikon.”

The death of the hieromartyr Kuksha was revealed to St Pimen the Faster. Standing in the church of the Monastery of the Caves, he loudly exclaimed, “Our brother Kuksha was killed today for the Gospel.” After saying this, he also surrendered his soul to God.

The Vyatichi, among whom the hieromartyr Kuksha preached and died, were pagans living along the River Oka, and they occupied the area of the Orlov and Kaluga districts. St Nestor the Chronicler (October 27), writing about the Vyatichi, was shocked by their brutal customs and he added that they live “only for the present day,” remaining unacquainted with the Law of God, and making their own law instead.

The Hieromartyr Kuksha preached to the Vyatichi during the era of St Theoctistus, Bishop of Chernigov (August 5). He was buried, as was St Pimen the Faster, in the Near Caves. The Monks of the Near Caves are commemorated on September 28.


Venerable Onuphrius the Silent

Saint Onuphrius the Silent is also commemorated on November 9.


Venerable Anatolius the Recluse of the Kiev Near Caves

Saint Anatolius the Recluse of the Near Caves of St Anthony is also commemorated on July 3 and October 31.


St Alypius the Iconographer of the Kiev Near Caves

Saint Alypius of the Near Caves, one of the first and finest of Russian iconographers, was a monastic disciple of St Nikon (March 23). From his youth he pursued asceticism at the Kiev Caves monastery. He studied the iconography of the Greek masters, and from the year 1083 beautified the Caves monastery church of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos.

If he learned that the icons in some church had become worn, he took them with him and restored them without charge. St Alypius also painted icons for those who were not able to pay him. If they did pay him for his work, he set aside one third to purchase the materials he needed for painting, then he gave one third to the poor, keeping only one third for himself.

St Alypius was never famous, and he painted icons only to serve God. He was ordained a hieromonk and was known for working miracles even in his lifetime. St Alypius healed a man from Kiev who suffered from leprosy and decay of the body by anointing his wounds with the paints he used to paint icons.

Many icons painted by the saint were glorified with miracles. There was one instance when angels of God painted icons for him. A certain man of Kiev, having built a church, entrusted two monks of the Caves to commission the icons for it. The monks concealed the money and said nothing to St Alypius. After waiting a long time for the icon to be painted, the man went to the igumen to complain about the monk. Only then did they discover that he had not been told of the commission. When they brought the boards given by the customer, they found that beautiful images had already been painted on them.

When the church built for the icons was consumed by fire, all of the icons remained unharmed. One of these icons (the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos) received the title Vladimir-Rostov (August 15), was taken by Great Prince Vladimir Monomakh (1113-1125) to a church he had built at Rostov.

Another time, an angel painted an icon of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos, when St Alypius lay deathly ill. The angel accepted the soul of St Alypius (he died on August 17 not earlier than the year 1114). He was buried in the Near Caves. On the right hand of St Alypius the first three fingers were folded perfectly alike, and the last two were bent to the palm. It seems that he died while signing himself with the Sign of the Cross. One of the icons of St Alypius, the Most Holy Mother of God with the Infant-Savior, surviving from the time of Sts Anthony and Theodosius of the Kiev Caves is now preserved in the State Tretyakov Gallery (named the Sven, and celebrated May 3 and August 17).


St Sisoes the Recluse of the Kiev Near Caves

Saint Sisoes of the Near Caves of St Anthony, lived as a recluse at the Kiev Caves monastery and was buried in the Near Caves.

In the general service to the Fathers of the Kiev Caves St Sisoes is called “radiant in fasting.”

St Sisoes is also commemorated on October 24, and on the second Sunday of Great Lent all the monks of the Caves.


St Theophilus the Recluse of the Kiev Near Caves

Saint Theophilus the Silent (12th-13th century), of the Near Caves of St Anthony, lived as a recluse at the Kiev Caves monastery and was buried in the Near Caves.

St Theophilus, in the general service to the Fathers of the Kiev Caves, is called “resplendant in miracles.” He is also commemorated on October 24, and with all the monks of the Caves on the second Sunday of Great Lent.


St Arethas the Recluse

Saint Arethas of the Near Caves of St Anthony, lived as a recluse at the Kiev Caves monastery.

St Arethas was from Polotsk. While living at the monastery, he kept many possessions in his cell. One day robbers made off with them. Grieving over his lost riches, St Arethas began to murmur against God, for which he was stricken with a serious illness. Being at the very brink of death, he saw how both angels and devils had come for him and were arguing between them. The devils asserted that he belonged to them because of his avarice and complaints against God. Meanwhile, the angels turned to him wailing, “You hapless man, if you had given thanks to God for the pilfered riches, this would have been accounted as charity for you.”

After this vision, the saint recovered. He spent his final days as a hermit, in distress and repentance over his sins, having renounced everything earthly. St Arethas died not later than the year 1190. In the Iconographic Manuals, he is described in this way: “In appearance stooped over, beard similar in length to Kozmina, monastic robes.”

St Arethas the Recluse is also commemorated on October 24, and with all the monks of the Caves on the second Sunday of Great Lent.


Venerable Spyridon the Prosphora baker of the Kiev Near Caves

Saints Spyridon and Nicodemus, the Prosphora-bakers of the Kiev Caves, Near Caves fulfilled their obedience of baking prosphora for thirty years. St Spyridon came to the monastery during the time of Igumen Pimen (1132-1141), when he was no longer a young man. The ascetic combined his work with unceasing prayer and the singing of Psalms. Even during his life St Spyridon was glorified by miracles. He was illiterate, but knew the entire Psalter by heart.

Once, his mantle caught fire from the oven. The fire was put out, but the mantle remained whole. St Nicodemus toiled together with St Spyridon and led a very strict life. Their relics are in the Kiev Caves of St Anthony. The fingers of St Spyridon’s right hand are positioned to make the Sign of the Cross with three fingers. They are also commemorated on September 28, and the second Sunday of Great Lent.


Venerable Onesiphorus the Confessor of the Kiev Near Caves

Saint Onesiphorus the Confessor of the Kiev Caves, Near Caves pursued the ascetic life in the Kiev Caves monastery. He was a presbyter and had the gift of clairvoyance. He died in the year 1148 and was buried in the Near Caves beside St Spyridon (October 31). His memory is also celebrated on September 28 and on the second Sunday of Great Lent.


Venerable Simon the Bishop of Suzdal

Saint Simon, Bishop of Vladimir and Suzdal was an author of the KIEV CAVES PATERIKON, and he became a monk at the Monastery of the Caves, sometime in the second half of the twelfth century.

In the year 1206 he was appointed igumen of the Vladimir Monastery of the Nativity of the Theotokos, and in 1214, at the wish of Prince George Vsevolodovich (+ 1238), he was made the first bishop of Vladimir-on-the-Klyazma and Suzdal.

In 1218 he consecrated a church at the Nativity monastery, and in the year 1225, a cathedral church at Suzdal. The Great Prince deeply respected St Simon and was prepared to establish a new bishop’s See at Suzdal for his friend, the monk Polycarp of the Kiev Caves monastery, who sought after spiritual glory. St Simon, seeing that Polycarp was not yet ready to assume such an office, talked the Great Prince out of his idea, and he wrote a deeply moving letter to Polycarp, in which he offered his friend advice on overcoming his spiritual shortcomings. St Simon’s own inner life, character, and virtue are also revealed in the epistle.

St Simon was known as a learned teacher, and his epistle to Polycarp was placed at the beginning of the KIEV CAVES PATERIKON. On the eve of his repose in 1226, the saint received the schema.

Initially his body was buried at Vladimir, but later, in accordance with the saint’s last wishes, his body was transferred to the Kiev Caves Lavra, where it rests in the Antoniev Caves.


Venerable Nikon the Igumen of the Caves

Saint Nikon of the Kiev Caves was the first disciple and fellow-ascetic of St Anthony (July 10), the founder of the Kiev Caves monastery, to which he came as a priest. At the monastery he tonsured all the new monks, and among their number was St Theodosius of the Caves (May 3 and August 14).

For tonsuring the favorites of the Great Prince Izyaslav, Sts Barlaam (November 19) and Ephraim (January 28 ), St Nikon brought the wrath of the prince down upon himself, but he refused to force the new monks to leave the monastery. The princess calmed Izyaslav, and he left St Nikon in peace.

When the number of brethren in the monastery had increased, St Nikon desired to go into seclusion and live as a hesychast. He went to the Tmutarakan peninsula (on the eastern banks of the Kerchensk straits) and settled in an unpopulated spot. When news of his holy life and spiritual gifts spread throughout the region, many gathered about him, wishing to follow his example. Thus a monastery and a church were founded in the name of the Most Holy Theotokos.

When he returned to the Kiev Caves monastery, St Nikon was obedient to St Theodosius as his spiritual Father. According to St Nestor the Chronicler (October 27), when St Theodosius had to go somewhere, he entrusted all the brethren to the care of St Nikon. Sometimes he asked St Nikon to offer instruction to the brethren in place of himself. Often, when St Nikon was binding books, St Theodosius sat near him and spun the thread for the binding.

When Prince Svyatoslav drove out his brother Izyaslav from Kiev, St Nikon returned to the monastery he founded. He returned under the igumen Stephen. When St Stephen (April 27) left the Kiev Caves monastery, St Nikon was chosen as igumen of the monastery. He toiled much to adorn his monastery with spiritual books and icons. He died at a great old age (+ 1088) and was buried in the Near Caves of St Anthony.


Venerable Theophanes the Faster of the Kiev Near Caves

No information available at this time.


Venerable Macarius of the Kiev Near Caves

Saint Macarius, Faster of the Kiev Caves, Near Caves, and Saint Macarius, Deacon of Kiev Caves, Far Caves, were both deacons. Their memory is celebrated on January 19 because of their namesake, St Macarius of Egypt.

St Macarius of the Far Caves lived in the thirteenth-fourteenth centuries, and was distinguished by his lack of covetousness. He was very zealous for the house of God (Ps. 68/69:9), and he continuously exerted himself in reading Holy Scripture and in fasting.

According to Tradition, he was frequently ill as a child, and his parents vowed that they would offer their son to the Monastery of the Caves if he were made healthy. Because of his meekness and humility he earned the love of the brethren, who taught him to read and to write. For his piety of life he was ordained as a deacon, and during his life he possessed a gift of wonderworking.

In addition to this commemoration, St Macarius of the Near Caves (twelfth century) is also celebrated on September 28, and St Macarius of the Far Caves on August 28. The general commemoration of all the wonderworkers of the Kiev Caves is on the second Sunday of Great Lent.


Venerable Deacon Anastasius of the Kiev Near Caves

The Monk Martyr Anastasius, Deacon of the Kiev Caves, lived an ascetical life in the Near Caves. The hieromonk Athanasius the Sooty calls him brother of St Titus the Presbyter (February 27). In the manuscripts of the saints he is called a deacon. In the Service to the Synaxis of the Fathers of the Near Caves, it says that the Monk Martyr Anastasius possessed such steadfastness in God, that he received everything he asked for. His memory is celebrated also on September 28 and on the second Sunday of Great Lent.


Childmartyr John

Saints Mark the Grave-Digger, Theophilus and John are mentioned in the Kiev Caves Paterikon. Two brothers being monastics, Sts Theophilus and John, so loved each other that they prevailed upon St Mark to prepare a double grave so they could be buried side by side.

Many years later, the older of the two brothers was away on monastery business. During this time his brother John fell ill and died. Several days later, St Theophilus returned and went with the brethren to view his brother’s body. Seeing that he lay at the higher place in their common grave, he became indignant with St Mark and said, “Why did you put him in my place? I am older than he.”

The cave-dweller Mark, bowed humbly to St Theophilus and asked that he forgive him. Turning to the dead man, he said, “Arise, give this place to your older brother, and you lie down in the other place.” And the dead man moved to the lower place in the grave. Seeing this, St Theophilus fell down at the knees of St Mark begging his forgiveness. The cave-dweller Mark told Theophilus that he ought to be concerned for his own salvation, because soon he would join his brother in that place.

Hearing this, St Theophilus became terrified and decided that he would soon die. He gave away everything that he possessed, keeping only his mantle, and every day he awaited the hour of death. No one was able to stop his tears, nor to tempt him with tasty food. Tears were his bread by day and by night (Ps 41/42:3). God granted him several years more for repentance, which he spent in fasting and lamentation. He even went blind from continuous weeping.

St Mark forsaw the hour of his death and told Theophilus he would soon depart this life. Theophilus pleaded, “Father, either take me with you, or restore my sight.” St Mark said to Theophilus, “Do not desire death, it shall come in its own time, even if you do not wish it. Let this be the sign of your impending end: three days before you depart this world, your eyesight will return.”

The words of the saint were fulfilled. The body of St Theophilus was placed in the Antoniev Cave in the grave together with his brother St John, near the relics of St Mark. Their memory is celebrated also on September 28 and on the second Sunday of Great Lent.


Venerable Elijah of Murom

Saint Elias Muromets of the Caves, nicknamed “Shoemaker” or “Cobbler,” was from the city of Murom. Popular legend identifies him with the famous warrior hero Elias Muromets, who was the subject of Russian ballads and of Gliere’s Symphony No. 3.

St Elias died with the fingers of his right hand formed to make the Sign of the Cross in the position accepted even today in the Orthodox Church: the first three fingers together, and the two outermost fingers folded onto the palm [in contrast to the Sign of the Cross used by the “Old Ritualists”]. During the struggle with the Old Ritualist Schism (seventeenth-nineteenth centuries). This information about the saint served as a powerful proof in favor of the present positioning of the fingers.


Venerable Nikon the Dry, of the Kiev Near Caves

Saint Nikon the Shriveled, the son of rich and illustrious parents, gave up everything for Christ and became a monk at the Kiev Caves monastery. In the year 1096, during the incursions of Khan Bonyak, he was taken into captivity with some other monks. The captors treated St Nikon harshly, while waiting for a ransom to be paid. When the saint refused to be ransomed, his masters began to torment him with hunger, and left him exposed in the heat of summer and the cold of winter. He was mistreated and beaten every day for about three years, for his captors thought he would change his mind and send word to his relatives, asking to be ransomed.

The saint gave thanks to God for everything, and once said to his tormentor that the Lord, through the prayers of Sts Anthony and Theodosius would return him to his monastery within three days, as St Eustratius (March 28) had predicted while appearing to him.

The captor cut the tendons in St Nikon’s legs and set a strong guard over him. But suddenly, on the third day at the sixth hour, the holy captive became invisible. At the moment the guard heard the words, “Praise the Lord from the Heavens” (Ps. 148).

St Nikon was transported to the Dormition church, where the Divine Liturgy was being served. The brethren surrounded him and began to ask how he got there. St Nikon wanted to conceal the miracle, but the brethren implored him to tell the truth.

St Nikon did not want to have his fetters removed, but the igumen said, “If the Lord had wanted you to remain fettered, He would not have delivered you from captivity.”

After a long while St Nikon’s former master came to the Kiev Caves monastery and recognized his former captive, who was withered from hunger and the loss of blood from his wounds. He came to believe in Christ, and accepted Baptism. After receiving monastic tonsure, he became a novice under St Nikon’s direction.

St Nikon died at the beginning of the twelfth century and was buried in the Near Caves. Though he did not enjoy good health in this life, his holy relics were glorified by incorruption. His memory is celebrated also on September 28 and on the second Sunday of Great Lent.


St Ephraim the Bishop of Pereslavsk

Saint Ephraim of the Caves, Bishop of Pereslavl, before his tonsure into monasticism, was treasurer and steward of household affairs at the court of the Kiev Great Prince Izyaslav (Demetrius) Yaroslavich (1054-1068). Weighed down by this noisy and bustling life and wishng to become a monk, he was accepted by St Anthony of the Kiev Caves and was tonsured by St Nikon (March 23).

The enraged prince demanded that Ephraim return, threatening to lock him up in prison and to destroy the Monastery of the Caves. St Anthony and the brethren left the monastery and decided to go to another place. Izyaslav, however, feared the wrath of God. He took his wife’s advice and withdrew his forces from the monastery in disgrace.

St Ephraim wished to go on pilgrimage to the holy places abroad. With the blessing of St Anthony, he journeyed to Constantinople and settled there in one of the monasteries. While in Constantinople, St Ephraim made a copy of the Studite monastic Rule, and took it to Kiev at the request of St Theodosius. As soon as he received the Rule, St Theodosius implemented it in his monastery.

After the year 1072 Ephraim was made bishop in Pereslavl, with the title of Metropolitan. He adorned Pereslavl with many beautiful churches and public buildings, and he built stone walls around the city in the Greek manner. He built free hospices for the poor and travelers, and constructed several public bath-houses.

In the year 1091, St Ephraim participated in the opening and solemn transfer of the relics of St Theodosius. A Life of St Ephraim existed in former times, but it has not survived. We find an account of him both in the Life of St Theodosius, and in the Russian Chronicles. To St Ephraim is ascribed a tale and encomium for St Nicholas the Wonderworker. St Ephraim died in the year 1098. He was buried in the Antoniev Caves of the Kiev Caves monastery.

His memory is also celebrated on September 28 and on the second Sunday of Great Lent.


Hieromonk Titus

Saint Titus, Presbyter of the Near Caves, lived in great friendship with the deacon Evagrius, which later turned into a strong dislike and hostility. Although Hieromonk Titus tried several times to make peace with his former friend, the deacon Evagrius refused to be reconciled (Compare the story of the Martyr Nicephorus on February 9).

When St Titus fell ill with a grievous illness and began to prepare himself for death, he asked for Evagrius to be brought to him in order to ask his forgiveness. The brethren brought Evagrius to the sickbed by force. St Titus tearfully begged him for forgiveness, but Evagrius remained obstinate. He declared that he would not forgive Titus in this world, nor in the world to come. As he said this, he fell dead, struck down by an angel. At that very instant, St Titus was healed, and got up out of bed. He revealed that the demons were all around him until he forgave Evagrius. When he had done so, the demons left him and attacked Evagrius, while radiant angels surrounded St Titus.

After this, St Titus increased his ascetic struggles, and received from God the gift of working miracles. He was also known for his great humility.

St Titus reposed around 1190. His memory is celebrated also on September 28 at the Synaxis of the Fathers of the Near Caves.


Venerable Chariton of Senyazemsk

No information available at this time.


St Chariton the Confessor

Saint Chariton the Confessor suffered at Iconium during one of the persecutions against Christians under the emperor Aurelian. The grace-bearing example of the holy Protomartyr Thekla (September 24) encouraged him in his confessor’s deed. She being a native of his city, whose memory he in particular deeply venerated.

St Chariton bravely denounced the pagan gods and staunchly confessed faith in the One True God, Christ the Savior. The holy Confessor underwent fierce tortures but, through the Providence of God, he remained alive. When the persecution abated, the saint was set free from prison and he dedicated all his life to the service of the Lord.

Journeying to Jerusalem on pilgrimage to the holy places, he fell into the hands of robbers. They tied him up and threw him in a cave, intending to kill him later, and they hastened away on business. The saint prayed fervently in expectation of death. He gave thanks to God and entreated him to do with him according to His will.

At this time a snake crawled into the cave and began to drink wine from a vessel setting there, poisoning it with its deadly venom. Returning to the cave, the robbers drank the poisoned wine and they all perished. St Chariton gave thanks to God and began his ascetic struggles at the place of his miraculous rescue. He distributed the plundered gold of the robbers to the poor, and in the robbers cave he built a church, around which in time there formed a monastery, the renowned Pharan Lavra in Palestine.

St Chariton compiled a strict rule for his monastery. Yearning for solitude, the monk went farther into the desert, but there also he did not reject those who sought his spiritual guidance, and he founded two more monasteries: the Jericho and the Souka, named the “Old Lavra.” At the end of his life, St Chariton struggled in a cave on a hill near the Souka monastery, but he did not cease to provide guidance for all three of the monasteries he founded.

According to Tradition, St Chariton compiled the office of taking monastic vows. St Chariton the Confessor died in extreme old age and was buried, in accord with his last wishes, in the Pharan monastery in the church, built on the site of the robbers’ cave.


Venerable Nectarius the Obedient of the Kiev Near Caves

Saint Nectarius the Obedient of the Caves, a monk of the Kiev Caves monastery, pursued asceticism during the twelfth century. For his unquestioning obedience to the will of elder brethren and his zeal for work he was termed “the Obedient.” St Nectarius was buried in the Antoniev Cave. His memory is also celebrated on September 28 and the second Sunday of Great Lent.


Venerable Gregory the Iconographer of the Kiev Near Caves

St Gregory, Iconographer of the Caves, was a colleague of St Alypius of the Caves (August 17). In the “Accounts of the holy Iconographers” it says that he painted many wonderworking icons throughout the Russian Land.

In the Ninth Ode of the Canon of the Service of the Synaxis of the Kiev Caves Monastics, Venerated in the Near Caves (September 28), St Gregory is called a “Byzantine.” This probably means that he was among the number of iconographers who had come from Constantinople to Kiev to embellish the Great Church of the monastery, dedicated in honor of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos.


Hieromartyr and Venerable Kuksha of the Kiev Near Caves

The Hieromartyr Kuksha and Saint Pimen the Faster died after the year 1114. St Simon, Bishop of Vladimir and Suzdal (May 10), in a letter to St Polycarp, Archimandrite of the Caves (July 24), wrote of St Kuksha: “How can I worthily proclaim the glory of those saintly men dwelling in the holy Monastery of the Caves, in which pagans were baptized and became monks, and Jews accepted the holy Faith? But I cannot keep silent about the holy hieromartyr and Black-Robed Kuksha of this monastery. Everyone knows that he cast out devils, baptized the Vyatichi, caused it to rain, dried up a lake, performed many other miracles, and after many torments was killed together with his disciple Nikon.”

The death of the hieromartyr Kuksha was revealed to St Pimen the Faster. Standing in the church of the Monastery of the Caves, he loudly exclaimed, “Our brother Kuksha was killed today for the Gospel.” After saying this, he also surrendered his soul to God.

The Vyatichi, among whom the hieromartyr Kuksha preached and died, were pagans living along the River Oka, and they occupied the area of the Orlov and Kaluga districts. St Nestor the Chronicler (October 27), writing about the Vyatichi, was shocked by their brutal customs and he added that they live “only for the present day,” remaining unacquainted with the Law of God, and making their own law instead.

The Hieromartyr Kuksha preached to the Vyatichi during the era of St Theoctistus, Bishop of Chernigov (August 5). He was buried, as was St Pimen the Faster, in the Near Caves. The Monks of the Near Caves are commemorated on September 28.


Venerable Gregory the Wonderworker of the Kiev Near Caves

Saint Gregory was tonsured at the Kiev Caves monastery in the time of St Theodosius (May 3). The saint devoted much time to reading books, which were his sole possession. He had the ability to bring thieves to their senses. Several times robbers broke in on him in his cell or in the garden, but the saint reasoned with them, the thieves repented, and began to lead honest lives.

Once, when the monk went to the Dnieper River for water, some servants of Prince Rostislav caught sight of the Elder and rudely began making fun of him. The saint answered them, “Children, when you should be asking for everyone’s prayers, you are displeasing God. Weep, for disaster approaches. Repent and ask God to be merciful to you on the Day of Judgment. All you will find death in the water with your prince.” By orders of the enraged Prince Rostislav, the monk was bound hand and foot, and he was drowned in the Dnieper with a stone around his neck. Still, his prediction came true. Rostislav did not return from the campaign. In that same year of 1093 the twenty-year-old prince drowned in sight of his brother, Vladimir Monomakh, trying to save himself as he fled from the Polovetsians.

Several sources identify St Gregory with St Gregory, a composer of Canons in honor of the holy Prince Vladimir, St Theodosius, and the holy Martyrs Boris and Gleb. But St Gregory, compiler of canons, lived later and died in about the year 1120. St Gregory the Wonderworker died in 1093 and was buried in the Near Caves. His memory is celebrated also on September 28 and on the second Sunday of Great Lent.


Venerable Macarius the Deacon of the Kiev Caves

Saint Macarius, Faster of the Kiev Caves, Near Caves, and Saint Macarius, Deacon of Kiev Caves, Far Caves, were both deacons. Their memory is celebrated on January 19 because of their namesake, St Macarius of Egypt.

St Macarius of the Far Caves lived in the thirteenth-fourteenth centuries, and was distinguished by his lack of covetousness. He was very zealous for the house of God (Ps. 68/69:9), and he continuously exerted himself in reading Holy Scripture and in fasting.

According to Tradition, he was frequently ill as a child, and his parents vowed that they would offer their son to the Monastery of the Caves if he were made healthy. Because of his meekness and humility he earned the love of the brethren, who taught him to read and to write. For his piety of life he was ordained as a deacon, and during his life he possessed a gift of wonderworking.

In addition to this commemoration, St Macarius of the Near Caves (twelfth century) is also celebrated on September 28, and St Macarius of the Far Caves on August 28. The general commemoration of all the wonderworkers of the Kiev Caves is on the second Sunday of Great Lent.