The Holy Prince Dovmont (Domant) of Pskov, prince of Nalshinaisk (Nalshensk), was a native of Lithuania, and at first he was a pagan. In 1265, escaping from internecine strife among the Lithuanian princes, he was forced to flee Lithuania and he arrived in Pskov with 300 families. The land of Pskov became his second country.
Here, in the expression of the Chronicler, “the grace of God was breathed upon him,” when he accepted Holy Baptism with the name Timothy and received the great gifts of the Lord. Within a year’s time, the people of Pskov chose him as their prince for his bravery and his true Christian virtues. For thirty-three years he ruled the city and was the only prince in the history of Pskov who died after living for so long in peace and in harmony with the Pskov veche (city-council).
He was just and strict in pursuing justice for others, he gave alms generously, took in the poor and strangers, he observed the church feasts, he was a patron of the churches and monasteries and he founded a monastery in honor of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos.
After his marriage to the daughter of Great Prince Demetrius, the grandson of St Alexander Nevsky (November 23 and August 30), he became related to the Russian princely line. Prince Dovmont, like St Alexander Nevsky, was a glorious defender of the Russian Land. The prime importance of Prince Dovmont as a military leader and activist for the realm is that for many years he defended the northwest boundaries of the Russian realm from hostile incursions.
In 1268, Prince Dovmont was one of the heroes of the historic battle before Rakovor, where Russian forces won the victory over the Danish and German armies. Before each battle, St Dovmont went into church, set down his sword at the steps of the holy altar and received a blessing from the priest, who girded on his sword for him.
St Dovmont made the Pskov fortress impregnable. In memory of the glorious defender of the city, a stone wall, built by the holy prince beside the Krom at the end of the thirteenth century, was named the Dovmontov, and the territory enclosed by the wall, to the present day is called Dovmontov town.
The saintly defender’s “House of the Holy Trinity” was another pious matter. In gratitude to the Lord in Whose Name he had gained victory unharmed, holy Prince Dovmont built a church beside the Pskov Kremlin in honor of the feastday on which he won the victory. Other inhabitants of Pskov also built churches there in fulfillment of vows. The territory of present day Dovmontov town was completely covered with churches (the first temple in honor of St Dovmont-Timothy was built in Dovmontov town in 1574).
The brave warrior-prince won his final victory on March 5, 1299 on the banks of the River Velika, where he defeated a large German army with a small company. Meanwhile, the Livonian Knights unexpectedly invaded the suburbs of Pskov, they seized the Snetnogor and Mirozh monasteries and burned them, cruelly murdering the inhabitants. They killed the founder of the Snetnogor monastery, St Joasaph, and seventeen monks, and also St Basil, igumen of Murozh (March 4). Holy Prince Dovmont, not waiting to raise a large army, went to engage the enemy with his retainers and he expelled the sacrilegious defilers from the boundaries of the Russian Land.
Several months later, holy Prince Dovmont-Timothy died and was buried in the Trinity cathedral of Pskov. The Chronicler relates that “there was then great sadness in Pleskov for the men and woman and small children on account of their good lord, the noble Prince Timothy.” The people of Pskov remembered how the holy prince had cared for them during peaceful times, and when the city was threatened by danger, how he led them into battle saying, “Good men of Pskov! Whoever is old among you is my father, whoever is young is my brother. Stand fast for the Holy Trinity!”
Soon after the Prince’s death he began to be venerated as a holy intercessor before God, guarding the land from enemies and misfortune. The holy prince defended Pskov more than once after his death. In the year 1480, when more than a hundred thousand Germans besieged the city, he appeared in a dream to a certain citizen and said, “Take my grave cover, carry it three times around the city with a cross, and do not be afraid.”
The people of Pskov fulfilled his instructions and the Germans departed from the city. A service to the holy prince was composed after this miraculous deliverance from enemies. Along with the relics of the saint, his battle sword was preserved (now the sword is in a Pskov museum). Thereafter, the sword was handed to the Pskov princes upon their elevation to the princely throne.
Holy Prince Dovmont-Timothy and his wife, the future Schemanun Martha (November 8), were depicted upon the wonderworking Murozh Icon of the Mother of God (September 24): “You have bestown a blessing on the all-pure image of Your icon, O Mother of God, by portraying the likeness of our steadfast intercessor Prince Dovmont and his pious spouse” (Service to the holy Prince Dovmont-Timothy).
When the Mother of God appeared to the Elder Dorotheus during a siege of Pskov by the Poles on August 27, 1581, holy Prince Dovmont-Timothy was among the saints accompanying the heavenly Protectress of Pskov (the related account about the Pskov Protection Icon of the Mother of God is found under October 1).
The relics of holy Prince Dovmont-Timothy rest in the Pskov cathedral of the Life-Creating Trinity.
The holy Princes Vsevolod and Dovmont aided Russian armies more than once in defense of the country’s western borders. Then came the hour when they were sent by the Leader of the Heavenly Hosts to rise up in defense of the eastern frontiers.
In the year 1640, the great national movement to the east, “the meeting of the sun,” resulted in the Russian explorers arriving at the mouth of the Amur River and the Pacific Ocean. Rus bordered pagan China on these frontiers. The bulwark of Orthodoxy became the Russian fortress of Albazin, famous for the wonderworking Albazin Icon of the Mother of God (March 9) and the heroic “defense of Albazin” (1685-1686).
In the summer of 1679, during the Apostles’ Fast, Gabriel Florov and a company of cossacks set out from Albazin to explore the Zea River valley. For three years the cossacks did patrol duty on the Zea, making the rounds of the surrounding settlements. They brought the Tungus settlers under Russian rule, and they established winter quarters and a stockade.
Once, cossack riders encountered two men on white horses, clad in armor and armed with bows and swords. These were Sts Vsevolod and Dovmont. Speaking with the cossacks and learning that they were from Albazin, the holy warrior-princes predicted the approach of Chinese armies upon the Amur soon afterwards. They said the battle would be difficult, but predicted the ultimate triumph of Russian arms. “The Chinese will come again, and enter into a great battle, and we shall aid the Russian people in these struggles. The Chinese will not trouble the city.”
Several times during 1684-1686 the Chinese horde advanced towards Albazin, but did not take the city. By the miraculous help of the Albazin Icon of the Mother of God and the holy Princes Vsevolod and Dovmont of Pskov, the enemy was rendered powerless against the Orthodox fortress.
“The Account of the Miracles of Holy Princes Vsevolod and Dovmont” was written by Gabriel Florov at Yakutsk on October 23, 1689. The fealty of these saints has not ceased. New generations arise to change the face of the earth, but the Russian warriors Sts Vsevolod and Dovmont stand steadfast in sacred patrol of their country.