Venerable 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 strength 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.