Venerable Nicodemus the Abbot of Kozhe Lake

Saint Nicodemus of Kozhe Lake (in the world Nikita) was born in the village of Ivankovo near Rostov into a peasant family. When he was still a young man working with his father in the fields, he heard someone call, “Nicodemus! Nicodemus!” indicating his future monastic state.

After the death of his parents he learned the trade of blacksmith in Yaroslavl and then went to Moscow. One time, going past Kulishka, Nikita stopped at the hut of the holy fool Elias, who upon seeing him cried out: “the Khuzyugsk ascetic has arrived.” These words made a strong impression upon Nikita, and he perceived them as a call to the monastic life.

After giving away everything he owned, he went to Archimandrite Paphnutius of the Chudov (Miracle of the Archangel Michael) monastery, asking to be accepted as one of the brethren.

In this monastery he was tonsured with the name Nicodemus. For eleven years St Nicodemus was an example to the brethren in humility, obedience, non-covetousness and brotherly love. In 1602 the igumen of the monastery, Paphnutius, was made Metropolitan of Sarsk, and he took Nicodemus with him. But the saint wanted a solitary and ascetic life. A year afterwards, with the Metropolitan’s blessing, he traveled to the north and at first entered the cenobitic Kozhe Lake monastery, in which he spent a year and a half.

His desire for solitude led him to the Rivulet Khuzyuga, five versts from the Kozhe Lake monastery. There in a forest thicket he built a small cell and lived in it without emerging for thirty-five years, in imitation of St Paul of Thebes (January 15).

St Nicodemus fulfilled his Rule of prayer for the world in total quiet, far from the world. He shared with the brethren of the monastery the fruits of his labor, also the fish, which he loved to catch. Wild deer walked around his hermitage without fear. St Nicodemus spent the night in prayer, and only occasionally did he permit himself to sleep while sitting up.

Through his austere efforts he attained a high degree of spiritual perfection, acquiring the gift of tears and of unceasing prayer. God also granted him clairvoyance and the power to heal the sick.

Once two radiant men appeared to St Nicodemus: St Alexis, Metropolitan of Moscow (February 12), and St Dionysius, Archimandrite of the Holy Trinity Sergiev Lavra (May 12), in angelic (monastic) garb. They told him that he would depart to the Lord in forty days, on July 3, 1640.

The relics of St Nicodemus rest beneath a crypt in the Theophany church of the Kozhe Lake monastery. The Life of the saint was written by his disciple, the hieromonk James.