Lives of all saints commemorated on October 18


Apostle and Evangelist Luke

The Holy Apostle and Evangelist Luke, was a native of Syrian Antioch, a companion of the holy Apostle Paul (Phil.1:24, 2 Tim. 4:10-11), and a physician enlightened in the Greek medical arts. Hearing about Christ, Luke arrived in Palestine and fervently accepted the preaching of salvation from the Lord Himself. As one of the Seventy Apostles, St Luke was sent by the Lord with the others to preach the Kingdom of Heaven during the Savior’s earthly life (Luke 10:1-3). After the Resurrection, the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to Sts Luke and Cleopas on the road to Emmaus.

Luke accompanied St Paul on his second missionary journey, and from that time they were inseparable. When Paul’s coworkers had forsaken him, only Luke remained to assist him in his ministry (2 Tim. 4:10-11). After the martyric death of the First-Ranked Apostles Peter and Paul, St Luke left Rome to preach in Achaia, Libya, Egypt and the Thebaid. He ended his life by suffering martyrdom in the city of Thebes.

Tradition credits St Luke with painting the first icons of the Mother of God. “Let the grace of Him Who was born of Me and My mercy be with these Icons,” said the All-Pure Virgin after seeing the icons. St Luke also painted icons of the First-Ranked Apostles Peter and Paul. St Luke’s Gospel was written in the years 62-63 at Rome, under the guidance of the Apostle Paul. In the preliminary verses (1:1-3), St Luke precisely sets forth the purpose of his work. He proposes to record, in chronological order, everything known by Christians about Jesus Christ and His teachings. By doing this, he provided a firmer historical basis for Christian teaching (1:4). He carefully investigated the facts, and made generous use of the oral tradition of the Church and of what the All-Pure Virgin Mary Herself had told him (2:19, 51).

In St Luke’s Gospel, the message of the salvation made possible by the Lord Jesus Christ, and the preaching of the Gospel, are of primary importance.

St Luke also wrote the Acts of the Holy Apostles at Rome around 62-63 A.D. The Book of Acts, which is a continuation of the four Gospels, speaks about the works and the fruits of the holy Apostles after the Ascension of the Savior. At the center of the narrative is the Council of the holy Apostles at Jerusalem in the year 51, a Church event of great significance, which resulted in the separation of Christianity from Judaism and its independent dissemination into the world (Acts 15:6-29). The theological focus of the Book of Acts is the coming of the Holy Spirit, Who will guide the Church “into all truth” John 16:13) until the Second Coming of Christ.

The holy relics of St Luke were taken from Constantinople and brought to Padua, Italy at some point in history. Perhaps this was during the infamous Crusade of 1204. In 1992, Metropolitan Hieronymus (Jerome) of Thebes requested the Roman Catholic bishop in Thebes to obtain a portion of St Luke’s relics for the saint’s empty sepulchre in the Orthodox cathedral in Thebes.

The Roman Catholic bishop Antonio Mattiazzo of Padua, noting that Orthodox pilgrims came to Padua to venerate the relics while many Catholics did not even know that the relics were there, appointed a committee to investigate the relics in Padua, and the skull of St Luke in the Catholic Cathedral of St Vico in Prague.

The skeleton was determined to be that of an elderly man of strong build. In 2001, a tooth found in the coffin was judged to be consistent with the DNA of Syrians living near the area of Antioch dating from 72-416 A.D. The skull in Prague perfectly fit the neck bone of the skelton. The tooth found in the coffin in Padua was also found to fit the jawbone of the skull.

Bishop Mattiazzo sent a rib from the relics to Metropolitan Hieronymus to be venerated in St Luke’s original tomb in the Orthodox cathedral at Thebes.


Martyr Marinus the Elder at Anazarbus

The Martyr Marinus the Elder at Anazarbus was from Cilicia (Asia Minor). For his confession of faith in Christ the Elder was subjected to fierce beatings, and then killed on the orders of Lysias, governor of Tarsus, during the reign of the emperor Diocletian (284-305).


Venerable Julian the Hermit of Mesopotamia

Saint Julian the Hermit of Mesopotamia lived an ascetic life of fasting and prayer near the River Euphrates.

Once, as he was praying, he heard a voice saying that the emperor Julian the Apostate would soon perish. Soon the prophecy was fulfilled. Through the efforts of St Julian, a church was built on Mount Sinai in memory of the obtaining of the tablets of the Law by the holy Prophet Moses on the spot where Moses was standing when he received the tablets.


Venerable Joseph the Igumen and Wonderworker of Volokolamsk

Saint Joseph of Volokolamsk, in the world John Sanin, was born on November 14, 1440 (1439 according to another source) in the village of Yazvisch-Pokrov, not far from the city of Volokolamsk. He was born into a pious family with his father named John (in monasticism Joannicius) and his mother Marina (in schema Maria). The seven-year-old boy John was sent to the pious and enlightened Elder Arsenius of the Volokolamsk-Exaltation of the Cross monastery to be educated.

Distinguished by rare qualities and extraordinary aptitude for church service, for one year the talented youth studied the Psalter, and, the following year, the entire Holy Scripture. He became a reader and singer in the monastery church. Contemporaries were astonished at his exceptional memory. Often, without having a single book in his cell, he would do the monastic rule, reciting from memory from the Psalter, the Gospel, the Epistles, and all that was required.

Even before becoming a monk, John lived a monastic lifestyle. Thanks to his reading and studying of Holy Scripture and the works of the holy Fathers, he dwelt constantly in contemplation of God. As his biographer notes, he “disdained obscene and blasphemous talk and endless mirth from his childhood years.”

At twenty years of age John chose the path of monastic striving and, leaving his parents’ home, he went off into the wilderness nigh to the Tver Savvin monastery, to the renowned Elder and strict ascetic, Barsanuphius. But the monastic rule seemed insufficiently strict to the young ascetic. With the blessing of Elder Barsanuphius, he set off to Borov to St Paphnutius of Borov (May 1), who had been a novice of Elder Nikita of the Vysotsk monastery, who in turn was a disciple of St Sergius of Radonezh and Athanasius of Vysotsk.

The simple life of the holy Elder, the tasks which he shared with the brethren, and the strict fulfilling of the monastic rule suited John’s spiritual state. St Paphnutius lovingly accepted the young ascetic who had come to him, and on February 13, 1460 he tonsured him into monasticism with the name Joseph, thus realizing John’s greatest wish. With love and with zeal the young monk shouldered the heavy obediences imposed upon him, in the kitchen, the bakery, the infirmary. St Joseph fulfilled this latter obedience with special care, “giving food and drink to the sick, taking up and arranging the bedding, so very anxious and concerned with everything, working, as though attending to Christ Himself.”

The great spiritual abilities of the young monk were evidenced in the Church reading and singing. He was musically talented and possessed a voice that “in church singing and reading was like that of a swallow and wondrously harmonious, delighting the hearing of listeners, as much as anyone anywhere.” St Paphnutius made Joseph ecclesiarch in church, so that he would observe the fulfilling of the Church rule.

Joseph spent about seventeen years in the monastery of St Paphnutius. The strict efforts of monastic obedience under the direct guidance of the experienced abbot was for him an excellent spiritual schooling, having educated him into a future instructor and guide of monastic life. Towards the end of the life of St Paphnutius, Joseph was ordained hieromonk and, in accord with the final wishes of St Paphnutius, he was appointed Igumen of the Borov monastery.

St Joseph decided to transform the monastic life along strictly coenobitic principles, following the example of the Kiev Caves, Trinity-St Sergius, and St Cyril of White Lake monasteries. But this met with strong opposition from a majority of the brethren. Only seven pious monks were of one mind with the igumen. St Joseph decided to visit Russian coenobitic monasteries, to investigate the best arrangement for monastic life. He arrived together with the Elder Gerasimus at the St Cyril of White Lake monastery, which itself presented a model of strict asceticism on the principles of a coenobitic monastery rule.

His acquaintance with the life of these monasteries strengthened St Joseph’s views. But, after he returned to Borov monastery at the wish of the prince, St Joseph encountered again the former staunch resistance of the brethren to change from their customary rule. Therefore, he resolved to found a new monastery with a strict coenobitic rule, so he took seven like-minded monks to Volokolamsk, his native region, to a forest known to him since childhood.

In Volokolamsk at the time, the prince was Boris Vasilievich, the pious brother of Great Prince Ivan III. Hearing of the virtuous life of the great ascetic Joseph, he gladly received him and allowed him to settle on the outskirts of his principality, at the confluence of the Rivers Struga and Sestra. The selection of this spot was accompanied by a remarkable occurrence: a storm blew down the trees before the eyes of the astonished travelers, as though clearing the place for the future monastery. Here the ascetics set up a cross and built a wooden church in honor of the Dormition of the Mother of God in June 1479, which was consecrated on August 15, 1479. This day and year stand in history as the date of the founding of the monastery of the Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God as “volok’ lamsk” [“broken-up peninsula”], later named after its founder.

The monastery was built rather quickly. Much of the work in the construction of the monastery was done by the founder himself. “He was skilled in every human craft: he felled trees, carried logs, he chopped and sawed wood.” By day he toiled with everyone at the construction of the monastery, but spent his nights in solitary cell prayer, remembering always that “Desires kill the sluggard, for his hands do not choose to do anything” (Prov 21:25).

Good reports about the new ascetic attracted disciples to him. The number of monks soon increased to a hundred men, and the venerable Joseph strove to be a good example for his monks in everything. Preaching temperance and spiritual sobriety in all things, his external appearance was no different than the others. His simple, cold-weather rags were his constant clothing, and bast shoes (made from bark) served as his footwear.

He was the first one to appear in church, he read and sang in the choir beside the others, he gave instruction and was the last to leave church. At nights the holy igumen walked around the monastery and the cells, safeguarding the peace and prayerful sobriety of the brethren entrusted him by God. If he chanced to hear a frivolous conversation, he rapped on the door and quietly withdrew.

St Joseph devoted much attention to the inner ordering of the life of the monks. He himself led a strict cenobitic life in accord with the Rule he compiled, to which all the services and obediences of the monks were subordinated, and it governed their whole life, “whether in their comings or goings, their words or their deeds.” At the core of the rule was total non-covetousness, detachment from one’s own will, and constant work. The brethren possessed everything in common: clothing, footwear, food and other things.

None of the brethren could take anything into their cell without the blessing of the igumen, not even a book or an icon. Part of the trapeza meal of the monks, by general consent, was given away to the poor. Work, prayer, spiritual efforts filled the life of the brethren. The Jesus Prayer never vanished from their lips. Festivity was viewed by St Joseph as a chief weapon for demonic seduction. St Joseph invariably imposed upon himself quite burdensome obediences. The monastery was occupied with the copying and transcription of Service Books and the writings of the holy Fathers, so that the Volokolamsk book collection soon became one of the finest of Russian monastic libraries.

With each passing year the monastery of St Joseph flourished all the more. In the years 1484-1485 a stone church of the Dormition of the Mother of God was built in place of the wooden one. In the Summer of 1485 “artistic masters of the Russian land” painted within it, Dionysius the Iconographer with his sons Vladimir and Theodosius. St Joseph’s nephews, Dositheus and Bassian Toporkov, participated in the adornment of the new Church. In 1504 a heated church in honor of the Holy Theophany was set up, followed by the establishment of a bell-tower and next to the bell tower, a church named in honor of the Hodigitria (Directress)Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos.

St Joseph trained a whole school of renowned monks, some of whom gained notoriety in the arena of church-historical activity since they were “good pastors,” while others gained fame with works of enlightenment. Some were remembered as worthy examples of pious monastic struggles. History has preserved for us the names of many disciples and co-ascetics of the holy Volokolamsk igumen, who continued to develop his ideas.

Among the disciples and followers of St Joseph were: the Metropolitans of Moscow and All Rus: Daniel (+ 1539) and Macarius (+1563), the Archbishop of Rostov Bassian (+1515), the Bishops of Suzdal: Simeon (+1515), Dositheus of Krutitsa (+1544), Sava of Krutitsa, called the Black, Acacius of Tver, Bassian of Kolomets, and many others. Monastics of the Volokolamsk monastery occupied the most important Archepiscopal sees of the Russian Church: the holy hierarchs of Kazan, Gurias (December 5) and Germanus (November 6 ), and St Barsanuphius, Bishop of Tver (April 11).

The activity and influence of St Joseph were not limited to the monastery. Many laypeople went to him to receive advice. With a pure spiritual insight he penetrated into the deep secrets of the souls of questioners and clairvoyantly revealed to them the will of God. Everyone living around the monastery considered him their spiritual Father and protector. Eminent nobles and princes asked him to be godfather for their children. They revealed their souls to him in confession, they asked for letters of guidance to help them fulfill his directives.

The common folk found at the monastery the means for sustaining their existence on occasions of extreme need. The number of those fed through monastery resources sometimes approached 700 people. “All of the Volotsk land are inclined to good, enjoying peace and quiet. And the name Joseph, as something sacred, is on everyone’s lips.”

The monastery was famed not only for its piety and help for the suffering, but also for its manifestations of the grace of God. During Matins of Holy Saturday, the righteous monk Bessarion once saw the Holy Spirit in the form of a white dove, sitting upon the Shroud of the Lord, which was being carried by St Joseph. The Abbot, bidding the monk to keep silent about the vision, himself rejoiced in spirit, hoping that God would not forsake the monastery. This monk had seen the souls of dying brethren, white as snow, issuing forth from their mouths. To St Joseph himself was revealed the day of his end, and he fell asleep in the Lord with joy, having received the Holy Mysteries and assuming the schema.

The saintly life of St Joseph was neither easy nor placid. In these difficult times for the Church in Russia, the Lord raised him up as a zealous defender of Orthodoxy in the struggle with heresies and churchly disputes. St Joseph exerted quite a great effort in denouncing the Judaizers, who tried to poison and distort the foundations of Russian spiritual life. Just as the holy Fathers and teachers of the Ecumenical Councils had elaborated on the teachings of Orthodoxy in responding to the ancient heresies (which contended against the Spirit, Christ, or icons), so also St Joseph was summoned forth by God to oppose the false teachings of the Judaizers and to compile the first manual of Russian Orthodox theology, his large book The Enlightener.

Even earlier, preachers from the Khozars had come to St Vladimir (July 15), trying to convert him to Judaism. But the great Baptizer of Rus repudiated the pretensions of the rabbis. After this, St Joseph writes, “the Great Russian land dwelt for five centuries in the Orthodox Faith, until the Enemy of salvation the devil, should bring the cunning Jew to the city of Novgorod.”

Along with the retinue of the Lithuanian prince Michael Olelkovich, who came to Novgorod in 1470, the Jewish preacher Skhariya (Zachariah) accompanied them. Playing upon the deficiencies of faith and of learning on the part of certain clergy, Skhariya and his accomplices sowed distrust among the petty-minded towards the church hierarchy, inclining them towards a revolt against the spiritual authorities, tempting them with the idea of “self-authority,” i.e. a capricious self-determination of each individual in matters of faith and salvation. Those they tempted gradually pushed towards a full break with the Church: they disdained the holy icons, and repudiated the veneration of the saints, basic elements of Orthodox popular morality.

Ultimately, they led the religiously blind and deluded to a denial of the saving Mysteries and the fundamental teachings of Orthodoxy, outside of which there is no knowledge of God: the teaching of the Most Holy Trinity and the teaching of the Incarnation of the God-man our Lord Jesus Christ. If decisive measures were not taken, “all of Orthodox Christianity would be doomed by heretical teachings.” So the question was posed for history. The Great Prince Ivan III, enticed by the Judaizers, invited them to Moscow. He had two of the most prominent of the heretics made archpriests, one at the Dormition, the other at the Archangel Michael cathedrals of the Kremlin, and he summoned to Moscow even the arch-heretic Skhariya himself.

All those close to the prince were led astray by the heresy, beginning with the clerk heading the government, Theodore Kuritsyn, whose brother became a ringleader of the heretics. Even the in-law of the great prince, Elena Voloshanka, accepted the Judaizers. And finally, the heretical Metropolitan Zosimas was installed upon the bishop’s Throne of the great Moscow Hierarchs Peter, Alexis and Jonah.

St Joseph and St Gennadius, Bishop of Novgorod (December 4), called for a struggle against the spread of the heresy. St Joseph wrote his first epistle “Concerning the Mystery of the Most Holy Trinity” while still a monk at the Paphnutiev Borov monastery in the year 1477. From the very beginning the Dormition Volokolamsk monastery became a bulwark of Orthodoxy in the struggle against the heresy. Here St Joseph wrote his chief works, The Enlightener, engendered with his fiery anti-heretical epistles, or as the monk himself unassumingly called them, “book exercises.” The works of St Joseph and Archbishop Gennadius were crowned with success. In 1494 the heretic Zosimas was deposed from the bishop’s Throne, and in the years 1502-04 the malicious and unrepentant Judaizers, who blasphemed against the Holy Trinity, Christ the Savior, the Most Holy Theotokos and the Church,were condemned at a church council.

St Joseph had many other trials and tribulations, but each time the Lord tried him according to the measure of his spiritual strength. The saint angered the Great Prince Ivan III, who only towards the end of his life reconciled with the saint and repented of his former weakness for the Judaizers. The saint also angered the Volotsk appenage prince Theodore, on whose lands Joseph’s monastery was situated. In 1508 the saint suffered wrongful interdiction from St Serapion, Archbishop of Novgorod (March 16), with whom, however, he soon reconciled.

In 1503, a Council at Moscow, under the auspices of St Joseph and his disciples, adopted a “Conciliar Reply” concerning the indissolubility of church properties, “therefore all church-acquired property is essentially the acquired property of God, pledged, entrusted, and given to God.” The legacy of the canonical works of Igumen Joseph is notably in “The Nomocanon Codex,” a vast codex of canonical rules of the Orthodox Church, begun by St Joseph and completed by Metropolitan Macarius.

There are opinions about the differences of outlook and discord between the two great pedagogues of Russian monasticism at the end of the fifteenth and beginning of the sixteenth centuries: St Joseph of Volotsk and St Nilus of Sora (May 7). In the historical literature these views usually present them as proclaiming two “contrary” currents within Russian spiritual life: external action and inner contemplation. This is profoundly incorrect. St Joseph in his Rule synthesized these two aspects of the Russian monastic tradition, proceeding without interruption from the Athonite blessing given to St Anthony of the Kiev Caves, through St Sergius, and down to our own day.

The Rule presupposes the need for a full inner regeneration of man, submitting one’s whole life to the task of salvation and deification [Greek theosis] not only for each individual monk, but also for the collective salvation of the whole human race. A great emphasis in the Rule is put on the demand to monastics for constant work in connection with inward and churchly prayer, “the monk should never be on holiday.” Work, as “a collective deed,” comprised for Joseph the very essence of church life: faith, embodied in good works, is the realization of prayer.

On the other hand, St Nilus of Sora had lived the ascetic life for a number of years on Mt. Athos, and he brought from there the teaching about the contemplative life and “the Jesus Prayer” as a means of a hesychastic service of monks to the world, as a constant spiritual activity, in connection with the physical work necessary for sustaining one’s life.

But spiritual work and physical work are but two aspects of the same Christian vocation: a vital continuation of the creative activity of God in the world, encompassing as much the ideal as well as the material spheres. In this regard Sts Joseph and Nilus are spiritual brothers, varied in continuing the Church Tradition of the holy Fathers, and are heirs to the precepts of St Sergius of Radonezh. St Joseph highly regarded the spiritual experience of St Nilus and sent his own disciples to him to study inner prayer.

St Joseph was also an active proponent of a strong centralized Moscow realm. He was one of the originators of the teaching about the Russian Church as the recipient and bearer of the piety of the Byzantine Empire, “the Russian land has now surpassed all in piety.” The ideas of St Joseph, possessing tremendous historical significance, were further developed later by his disciples and followers. From them came the Pskov Spaso-Eleazarov monastery Elder Philotheus with his own teaching about Moscow as the Third Rome. He declared, “Two Romes have fallen, Moscow is the third, and a fourth there shall not be.”

These views of the Josephites on the significance of monasteries possessing properties for church building, and the participation of the Church in social life, were set amidst the conditions of the struggle for centralized power by the Moscow prince. His opponents were separatists who tried to disparage these views for their own political ends, surreptitiously using the teaching of St Nilus of Sora about “non-acquisitiveness,” the withdrawal of monastics from worldly matters and possessions.

This supposed opposition engendered a false view on the hostility between the trends of Sts Joseph and Nilus. In actuality, both trends legitimately coexisted within the Russian monastic Tradition, complementing each other. As is evidenced from the Rule of St Joseph, its basis was complete non-acquisitiveness, and renunciation of the very concepts of “yours-mine.”

The years passed. The monastery flourished with the construction work and efforts of St Joseph, and as he got old, he prepared himself for life eternal. Before his end he received the Holy Mysteries, then summoned all the brethren. He gave them his peace and blessing, and peacefully fell asleep in the Lord on September 9, 1515.

The funeral oration to St Joseph was composed by his nephew and disciple, the monk Dositheus Toporkov.

The first Life of the saint was written in the 1540s by a disciple of St Joseph, Bishop Sava the Black of Krutitsa, with the blessing of Macarius, Metropolitan of Moscow and all Rus (+ 1564). It entered into the Great Menaion Readings compiled by Macarius. A second redaction of the Life was written by the Russified Bulgarian writer Lev the Philolog with the assistance of St Zenobios of Otensk (October 30).

Local celebration of St Joseph was established at the Volokolamsk monastery in December of 1578, on the hundred year anniversary of the founding of the monastery. On June 1, 1591, the church-wide celebration of his memory was established under Patriarch Job. St Job, a disciple of the Volokolamsk saint, tonsured St Germanus of Kazan, and was a great admirer of St Joseph and was author of the Service to him, which was included in the MENAION. Another disciple of Sts Germanus and Barsanuphius was also the companion and successor to Patriarch Job, the Hieromartyr Patriarch Hermogenes (February 17), a spiritual leader of the Russian people in the struggle for liberation under the Polish incursion.

The theological works of St Joseph comprise an undeniable contribution within the treasury of the Orthodox Tradition. As with all Church writings inspired by the grace of the Holy Spirit, they continue to be a source of spiritual life and knowledge, and they have their own theological significance and pertinence.

St Joseph’s chief book was written in sections. Its original form, completed at the time of the 1503-1504 councils, included eleven sections. In the final redaction, compiled after the death of the saint and involving a tremendous quantity of scrolls, The Book against the Heretics or The Enlightener includes sixteen sections, prefaced by An Account of the Newly-Appeared Heresies. The first section expounds the Church teaching about the teaching of the Most Holy Trinity; the second, about Jesus Christ, the True Messiah; the third, about the significance within the Church of the prophecies of the Old Testament; the fourth, about the Incarnation of God; the fifth through seventh, about the veneration of icons. In the eighth through tenth sections, St Joseph expounds on the fundamentals of Christian eschatology. The eleventh section is devoted to monasticism. In the twelfth the ineffectiveness of the anathemas and sanctions imposed by heretics is demonstrated. The final four sections consider methods of the Church’s struggle with the heretics, and the means for their correction and repentance.

St Joseph is also commemorated on September 9 and February 13.


St James the Deacon

Saint James lived in the seventh century, and assisted St Paulinus of York (October 10) in evangelizing the north of England.

Following the death of St Edwin (October 12) in 633, the northern kingdom experienced many trials, including military defeats, famine, and plague. The year 633-634 was so fraught with misfortune that it became known as “The Hateful Year.” St Paulinus accompanied St Ethelburga (April 5) back to her native Kent after the death of her husband King Edwin, leaving St James behind to care for the new converts in northern England.

St James has been described as “faithful and undismayed,” even though the secular power which supported the Church had been overthrown. Even so, he would not abandon the people in his care, nor would he cease his missionary labors.

This faithful servant of the Lord established himself near the village of Catterick in Yorkshire, teaching, comforting, and encouraging his flock. Even in such difficult times, St James was able to win many converts to Christ. He had a talent for music, and was skilled in the Roman chants composed by St Gregory Dialogus (March 12) which were being used in Kent. James taught these chants to the Christians of the north. When peace returned and the churches reopened, their services were beautified with the chants which St James had given them.

We do not know exactly when St James died, but it is believed that he survived for at least thirty years after “The Hateful Year,” and participated in the Synod of Whitby in 664.

St James does not appear to have been ordained to the holy priesthood, but through his tireless labors he built up the Church in the north. St Bede (May 27) calls him “a man of great energy and repute in Christ’s Church” HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH AND PEOPLE, Book II, chapter 16).


St Peter of Cetinje

Saint Peter was born in Njegushi, Montenegro on April 1, 1747. He was tonsured a monk and ordained to the diaconate when he was only seventeen. He accompanied his uncle Bishop Basil to Russia the following year in order to study there. His uncle died within a year after arriving in Russia, and so Peter was obliged to return to Montenegro.

The young deacon was ordained to the holy priesthood, and was later elevated to the rank of archimandrite. St Peter assisted Metropolitan Sava in the administration of the diocese until that hierarch died in 1781. St Peter seemed the logical choice to succeed him.

As Metropolitan of Montenegro, St Peter also became the secular leader (governor) of the Montenegran Serbs. For the rest of his life he devoted himself to promoting peace and unity among warring tribes and clans, and to helping his flock rise above petty quarrels and animosity at a difficult time in their history.

St Peter also defended his nation against the onslaught of enemies. He successfully opposed Napoleon’s army at Dalmatia, and took part in the first Serbian uprising against the Turks.

Although he enjoyed a certain prominence as the archpastor and governor of the Serbs, St Peter continued to live as a simple monk in a small cell where he lived in asceticism. He fasted, prayed, and read books in French, Italian and Russian in order to increase his knowledge of Orthodox doctrine and secular culture. While he was strict with himself, the holy bishop was merciful toward others.

St Peter contributed to the welfare of his country through his good works. As a bishop he promoted love and peace. As governor he never sentenced a criminal to death.

St Peter, the Metropolitan and governor of Cetinje and all Montenegro, fell asleep in the Lord on October 18, 1830. He was succeeded by his nephew Bishop Peter II (Njegos).

St Peter’s holy and grace-filled relics were uncovered in 1834. They were found incorrupt and streaming with myrrh, and still rest in the monastery at Cetinje. He is honored as a powerful intercessor for his people, and for the whole Church.


St David of Serpukhov

Saint David of Serpukhov, a disciple of St Paphnutius of Borov (May 1), lived as a hermit at the River Lopasna, 23 versts from Serpukhov. In 1515, on the right bank of the river, he built a church dedicated to the Ascension, and laid the foundations of the Davidov wilderness monastery.