St Jonah of Kazan

Saints Jonah and Nectarius of Kazan were called John and Nestor Zastolsky before they received monastic tonsure. When St Gurias (December 5 ) was sent to the newly established Kazan diocese, the boyar John Zastolsky went with him. Under the spiritual guidance of St Gurias, John led a virtuous and pious life. He avoided sin, loved truth, and was strictly honest.

John raised his son Nestor in the fear of God. The gentle youth was an ascetic from childhood. He wore a hair-shirt, kept the fasts, and he loved to pray in church. With his father’s consent, Nestor became a monk with the new name Nectarius. He died at a young age, and was buried near the grave of St Gurias.

John was tonsured into monasticism with the name Jonah. Before his death, he left instructions that he also be buried near St Gurias.

At the uncovering of the relics of Sts Gurias and Barsanuphius in 1595, the incorrupt bodies and clothing of Sts Jonah and Nectarius were also found. They were left beneath a crypt in a chapel of the Kazan Savior-Transfiguration monastery. The chapel had been built by Jonah over the grave of St Gurias.

The saints are mentioned in the service to St Gurias, “Two monks, Jonah and Nectarius, ascetics well-pleasing to God, one born of the other, faithfully served you in the world. Upon your death, O Gurias, keeping sincere faith for you, they built a chapel over your grave. These saints are buried here beside you, honored with incorruption from God above. St Gurias, pray with them unto Christ God, to grant us peace and great mercy.”