St Arethas the Recluse

Saint Arethas of the Near Caves of St Anthony, lived as a recluse at the Kiev Caves monastery.

St Arethas was from Polotsk. While living at the monastery, he kept many possessions in his cell. One day robbers made off with them. Grieving over his lost riches, St Arethas began to murmur against God, for which he was stricken with a serious illness. Being at the very brink of death, he saw how both angels and devils had come for him and were arguing between them. The devils asserted that he belonged to them because of his avarice and complaints against God. Meanwhile, the angels turned to him wailing, “You hapless man, if you had given thanks to God for the pilfered riches, this would have been accounted as charity for you.”

After this vision, the saint recovered. He spent his final days as a hermit, in distress and repentance over his sins, having renounced everything earthly. St Arethas died not later than the year 1190. In the Iconographic Manuals, he is described in this way: “In appearance stooped over, beard similar in length to Kozmina, monastic robes.”

St Arethas the Recluse is also commemorated on October 24, and with all the monks of the Caves on the second Sunday of Great Lent.