Venerable Arethus the Recluse of the Kiev Near Caves

Saint Arethas (12th century), Sisoes (13th century), and Theophilus (12th-13th century) were hermits of the Near Caves in Kiev. They struggled at the Kiev Caves monastery and were buried in the Near Caves.

St Arethas was from Polotsk. While living at the monastery, he kept many possessions in his cell. One day robbers made off with it. 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 ought to be given over to them because of his avarice and complaints against God. Then the angels said to him, “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 all earthly possessions. St Arethas died not later than 1190. In the Iconographic Manuals, the saint is described in this way: “In appearance stooped over, his beard the same length as Kozmina, dressed in monastic garb.”

The general commemoration of all the Fathers of the Near Caves takes place on September 28 and on the second Sunday of Great Lent.