The Child Schemamonk Bogolep was the son of a Moscow nobleman Iakov Lukich Ushakov and his wife Katherine. He was born in 1660 at Moscow. At Baptism they gave him the name Boris, in honor of the holy Passion-Bearer Boris (July 24).
Ushakov was appointed voevoda (military-commander) in the city of Chernyi Yar (Black Ravine), situated 250 versts from Astrakhan. He was known for his integrity. From infancy Boris displayed unusual traits. On Wednesdays and Fridays he would not drink milk from his mother’s breasts. When the bells pealed at the church, he began to cry, and became quiet only when they brought him into the church. When they did not take the infant to church, he cried all day and ate nothing.
In 1662 a deadly pestilence spread about in Russia. The child fell ill, and the pestilence afflicted him in the legs. He became lame, but continued to walk to church. The parents prayed for the health of their son and they tried everything in their power to heal him. But no sooner had the one illness gone, than upon his face there appeared another, called scales.
Once during his illness the child saw a wandering monk who visited at their home. The angelic garb so impressed the child, that he began to implore his parents to sew him such clothing and permit him to receive monastic tonsure. The holy child proclaimed: “You will see for yourselves, when you tonsure and grant me the angelic garb, I shall be well.” The parents consented. The child was invested in the schema with the name Bogolep (the Russian version of the Greek name Theoleptos, meaning “similar to God”).
On the next day the child schemamonk was completely healthy, his face was clear and there remained no trace of the illness. But on the third day there was a new illness, he developed a fever, and it struck down the child. He died on August 1, 1667 and was buried at the left wall of the wooden Black Ravine church in honor of the Resurrection of Christ. (This church was built after a great fire in Black Ravine, on July 24, 1652 the Feast of St Boris). A chapel was built over the grave of the child.
The Life of the holy Schemamonk Bogolep was compiled under a vow by the Black Ravine merchant Sava Tatarinov during the years 1731-1732.
Icons of the saint, with the Troparion and Kontakion to him, were widely dispersed throughout the Astrakhan region.
In 1750 on the place of the wooden church a stone church was built with a side-altar in honor of the holy Martyr John the Warrior. The grave of the holy schemamonk was enclosed in this side altar.
The bank of the river, where the church of the Resurrection of Christ stood, was constantly eroding. By the mid-nineteenth century the structure of the church was threatened, and they removed all the holy things from it. For a long time the people of Black Ravine did not remove the chief holy object: the grave of the holy schemamonk. Finally, in 1851 when the water had already approached 4 ft. 8 inches, the people petitioned the Most Holy Synod with a request to transfer the holy relics of the Schemamonk Bogolep, and they received permission for this. The small child’s coffin was laid bare, but just when the city head took it into his hands, it slid out of his hands and disappeared into the waters of the Volga.
This disappearance of the relics just at the opening of the grave was accepted as the Will of God, since the holy child had repeatedly appeared to many either in sleep, or awake while walking along the river bank, or coming down the hill. He consoled them, promising that he would be present spiritually with believers.
The simple life of the holy Schemamonk Bogolep, full of the mysteries of God, illustrates the words of the Savior concerning children: “Let the children come unto Me and forbid them not, for of such is the Kingdom of God. Truly I say to you, whosoever shall not receive the Kingdom of God as a little child, shall not enter therein. And He took them up in His arms, put His hands upon them, and blessed them” (Mark 10: 14-16).
We pray to St Bogolep for children, and also for protection against lightning.