St Athanasius the Recluse of the Kiev Near Caves

Saint Athanasius, Hermit of the Kiev Caves, Near Caves, was a contemporary of the archimandrite St Polykarp (July 24) of the Kiev Caves. St Athanasius was grievously ill for a long time. When he died, the brethren prepared him for burial, and on the third day the igumen came to bury him. However, they all saw the dead man alive. He was sitting up and weeping. To all their questions he replied only: “Seek salvation, obey the igumen in everything, repent each hour and pray to our Lord Jesus Christ, to His All-Pure Mother and to Sts Anthony and Theodosius, to allow you to end your life here. Do not ask me anything else, for I must pray” (There is a similar story of St Hesychius [October 3] in THE LADDER of St John Climacus, Step 6).

After this he lived for twelve years more in solitude in a cave. During that time he spoke not a word to anyone. He wept day and night, and partook of a little bread and water only every other day. Just before his death, he assembled the brethren, and repeated his earlier words to them, and then he peacefully departed unto the Lord (in about the year 1176).

The monk Babylas, who had suffered illness and an infirmity of the legs for many years, was healed at his relics. “As I lay there,” he related told the brethren, “ I cried out in pain. Suddenly, St Athanasius appeared to me and said, ‘Come to me, and I shall heal you.’ I wanted to ask him how and when he had returned here, but he became invisible. I believed his words and asked to be taken to his relics. And indeed, I have been healed.” St Athanasius was buried in the Antoniev Cave. His memory is celebrated also on September 28 and on the second Sunday of Great Lent.