Venerable Ephraim the Abbot of Perekop the Wonderworker of Novgorod

Saint Ephraim of Perekop, Novgorod, was born on September 20, 1412 in the city of Kashin. In Holy Baptism he was named Eustathius. His parents, Stephen and Anna, lived not far from the Kashin women’s monastery named in honor of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos.

Drawn to the solitary life, Eustathius left his parental home while still in his early years and settled in the Kalyazin monastery of the Most Holy Trinity. His parents wanted their son to return home, but he persuaded them to leave the world and accept monasticism. Later, they also finished their earthly paths living as hermits.

After three years in the monastery, Eustathius, through a miraculous revelation, transferred to the monastery of St Sava of Vishersk (October 1). It was there in 1437 that he accepted tonsure with the name Ephraim. While in the monastery, St Ephraim received a revelation from the Lord, commanding him to withdraw to a desolate place.

Having received the blessing of St Sava, in 1450 he went to Lake Ilmen, at the mouth of the River Verenda, and on the banks of the River Cherna he built a cell. After a certain while the Elder Thomas and two monks came to St Ephraim, and they settled not far from his cell. From that time, other hermits also began to gather to the new monastery. At their request St Ephraim was ordained a priest at Novgorod by St Euthymius (March 11).

Returning from Novgorod, St Ephraim built a church in honor of the Theophany of the Lord on an island, at the mouth of the River Verenda. To secure a ready supply of water for the monastery, the monk dug a canal to Lake Ilmen, from which the monastery received its name “Perekop” (from “perekopat’” meaning “to dig through”). Later on, St Ephraim built a stone church named for St Nicholas the Wonderworker. Unable to find sufficient skilled builders, he sent several monks to Great Prince Basil with a request for sending stone-workers. The construction of the temple was completed in 1466.

St Ephraim reposed on September 26, 1492 and was buried at the church of St Nicholas. In 1509, because of frequent floodings that threatened the monastery with ruin, it was transferred to another location at the shore of Lake Ilmen. St Ephraim appeared to the igumen Romanus and pointed to the site of Klinkovo for relocating the monastery.

Over the saint’s tomb a chapel was built, since all the monastery churches were in ruins. On May 16, 1545 the relics of St Ephraim were transferred to the site of the new monastery. On this day there is an annual celebration of St Ephraim of Perekop at the monastery, confirmed after the glorification of the holy ascetic at the Council of 1549. (The Transfer of the Relics of St Ephraim of Perekop is celebrated May 16).