St Euphrosynus of Pskov, in the world Eleazar, was born in about the year 1386 in the village of Videlebo, near Pskov, the same village where St Nicander of Pskov (September 24) had also been born. His parents wanted Eleazar to marry, but secretly he withdrew to the Snetogorsk monastery (on the Snyatni hill, now in Pskov itself) and there accepted tonsure.
Around the year 1425, searching for a place where he might devote himself to more intense prayer, St Euphrosynus with the blessing of the abbot moved to a solitary cell at the River Tolva, not far from Pskov. But concern for the salvation of his neighbor impelled the saint to abandon his wilderness dwelling, and he began to receive everyone who was in need of an experienced Elder and guide. St Euphrosynus blessed those coming to him to live according to a skete rule, compiled by himself.
The Rule of St Euphrosynus presents a rather generalized advice for monks about proceeding on the monastic path, “how it befits monks to dwell.” He does not address the strict regulation of all aspects of monastic life, as did, for example, the Rule of St Joseph of Volokolamsk; there is nothing at all in it concerning the order of divine services.
In 1447 at the request of the brethren, St Euphrosynus built a church in honor of the Three Holy Hierarchs Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom, who appeared to him, and also in honor of St Onuphrius the Great (June 12). The monastery later received the name Spaso-Eleazarov. Out of humility and his love for the solitary life, the saint did not wish to be igumen, but instead nominated his disciple Ignatius for this office. He then went to live in the forest near a lake.
St Euphrosynus died at the advanced age of ninety-five, on May 15, 1481. At his crypt, by order of Archbishop Gennadius of Novgorod, was placed an icon painted by his disciple Ignatius while the saint was still alive. Also included was the last testament of the saint to the brethren on a piece of parchment, stamped with the lead seal of Archbishop Theophilus of Novgorod. This is one of very few surviving wills written by an ascetic in his own hand.
St Euphrosynus, the originator of Pskov wilderness life, taught many famed disciples, who also established monasteries, and planted the seeds of monasticism throughout the lands of Pskov. Among the disciples of St Euphrosynus were the skete Elders Sava of Krypetsk (August 28; St Dositheus of Verkhneostrov (October 8); St Onuphrius of Malsk (June 12); St Joachim of Opochsk (September 9); St Hilarion of Gdovsk (October 21); St Chariton of Kudinsk, founder and igumen of a monastery at Lake Kudina near Toroptsa; and the locally venerated brothers from Pskov Ignatius, Charalampos and Pamphilius, buried at the Spaso-Eleazar monastery.