Pages in category "Starets"
The following 12 pages are in this category, out of 12 total, this list may not reflect recent changes (learn more).
The following 12 pages are in this category, out of 12 total, this list may not reflect recent changes (learn more).
1. Ambrose of Optina – Saint Ambrose of Optina was a starets and a hieroschemamonk in Optina Monastery, canonized in 1988 convention of the Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church. Aleksandr was born in the family of sexton Mikhail Fyodorovich Grenkov and he was the sixth of eight children. At the age of 12 Aleksandr entered the Tambov clerical school, in 1835, shortly before the graduation, Aleksandr became severely ill and made a vow, if he gets well, to become a monk. He recovered but delayed his decision and became a teacher in a family of a landlord. During summer vacation, Aleksandr met a well-known elder Hilarion from the village of Troekurovo, the Elder advised, Go to Optina and you will be experienced. You could go to Sarov too, but there are no more experienced elders there, and the Elder added, They need you there. After this advice, in 1839, Aleksandr entered the Optina Monastery in Kaluga guberniya when the monastery was in its spiritual heyday and his first guide was Starets Leonid and then later Starets Makary, whom Ambrose shared a cell with. This gave him get help in his spiritual progress, Ambrose had a very lively humor and sociable character which conflicted with his more stoic spiritual discipline. Ambrose had many struggles with throughout his life building upon these struggles for insight into the human condition. Ambrose was tonsured as a monk, after three years, in 1842. He was given the religious name Ambrose in honour of Saint Ambrose of Milan, in another three years Ambrose advanced and was ordained a hieromonk. On the trip to Kaluga for ordination, Ambrose caught cold, since then, his health became so poor that he almost could not serve as a priest. Due to illness Ambrose was forced into semi-reclusion for several years and this seclusion allowed him to concentrate on the mastering of the Jesus Prayer or hesychasm and to experience the meaning of hesychia, the silence of the soul before God or theoria. Even though of a weak constitution Father Ambrose continued work assisting Elder Makary with the translation of the Holy Fathers, in particular, with the translation of The Ladder of Divine Ascent. Father Ambrose maintained his correspondence and counsel to pilgrims, and later as an out of love for all people he counseled. When Elder Macarius died in September,1860, Father Ambrose replaced him as the elder of the monastery. Elder Ambrose remained the principal staretz of Optina for 30 years, Ambrose was visited by countless people, and his love for every person was so strong that he would even see people when he had passed the point of exhaustion being forced to lay down. Even then he would not refuse to listen to people coming to him to seek his counsel, the staretz had the gift of being able to see into peoples souls where no secret was hidden from him
2. Herman of Alaska – Saint Herman of Alaska was a Russian Orthodox monk and missionary to Alaska, which was then part of Russian America. His gentle approach and ascetic life earned him the love and respect of both the native Alaskans and the Russian colonists and he is considered by many Orthodox Christians as the patron saint of North America. Biographers disagree about Herman’s early life, sergius Hermitage near St. Petersburg before going to Valaam to become a full monk. A young military clerk named Egor Ivanovich Popov from the Voronezh Governorate, was in fact tonsured with the name Herman at Valaam in 1782. All biographers agree that at Valaam, Herman studied under Abbot Nazarius, previously of Sarov Monastery, Herman undertook various obediences and was well-liked by the brethren, but wanted a more solitary life and so became a hermit with Abbot Nazarius blessing. His hermitage, which became known as “Herman’s field” or Germanovo, was two kilometers from the monastery. The Russian colonization of the Americas began when Vitus Bering and Aleksei Chirikov discovered Alaska in 1741, the expedition harvested 1,500 sea otter pelts, which Chinese merchants bought for 1,000 rubles each at their trading post near Lake Baikal. This spurred a “fur rush” from 1741–1798 in which known as promyshlenniki explored Alaska. Shelikhov founded a school for the natives, of many were converted to Russian Orthodox Christianity. The Shelikhov-Golikov Company appealed to the Most Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church to provide a priest for the natives, catherine the Great decided instead to send an entire mission to America. She entrusted the task of recruiting missionaries to Metropolitan Gabriel of St. Petersburg, the missionaries arrived on Kodiak on September 24,1794. Herman and the missionaries encountered a harsh reality at Kodiak that did not correspond to Shelikhov’s rosy descriptions. The men were forced to hunt for sea otter even during harsh weather, the monks were also shocked at the widespread alcoholism in the Russian population, and the fact that most of the settlers had taken native mistresses. The monks themselves were not given the supplies that Shelikhov promised them, despite these difficulties, the monks managed to baptize over 7,000 natives in the Kodiak region, and set about building a church and monastery. Herman was assigned in the bakery and acted as the mission’s steward, the monks became the defenders of the native Kodiak population. Herman was especially noted for his zeal in protecting them from the demands of the RAC, and Baranov disparaged him in a letter as a “hack writer and chatterer. ”A contemporary historian compares him to Bartolomé de las Casas. After over a decade spent in Alaska, Herman became the head of the mission in 1807, the local population loved and respected him, and he even had good relations with Baranov. Herman ran the school, where he taught church subjects such as singing
3. Lev of Optina – Hieroschemamonk Leonid of Optina, also Leo of Optina, was a venerable elder of Optina Monastery and a founder of Optinas eldership. The future St. Leonid was born Leo Danilevich Nagolkin in Karachev in the Orlov Province in 1768 of a family of ordinary parents. He worked for a merchant during his years, making frequent trips as part of his employers business. As a mature man, Leo decided to enter a monastic life. In 1797, Leo entered Optina Monastery as it was being reborn, after two years he left to enter White Bluff monastery in the Orlov eparchy, where Hieromonk Basil was igumen. Basil, Leo underwent training in monastic virtues of obedience, patience, in 1801, Fr. Basil tonsured Leo a monk giving him the name Leonid. Leonid was ordained a deacon on December 22 and then a priest on December 24, Leonid set an example to the other monastics. This attracted the notice of his superiors, Leonid also spent some time at Cholnsk monastery where he met Schemamonk Theodore, a disciple of St. Paisius Velichkovsky. Theodore, who was ten years older than Fr. Leonid learned a great deal about spiritual struggles and how to acquire the grace of the Holy Spirit, in 1804, after only five years at White Bluff, he was appointed by Bishop Dorotheus of Orlov and Svensk to succeed Fr. Basil as igumen. Theodore also came to White Bluff Monastery and Fr, Leonid once again shared conversations that inspired him to even greater progress in the spiritual life. Theodore, longing for solitude, received permission to establish his cell, with his disciple Cleopas, Theodore in 1808 after resigning as igumen and became a schema-monk with the name of Leo. The fame of the three ascetics, however, brought many visitors and distractions from their struggles, causing them to look else where. Theodore moved, first, to New Lake Monastery, then, on to the Palei Island Hermitage, there, he was reunited with Frs. Leonid and Cleopas who had moved there in 1812. In 1816, Hieroschemamonk Cleopas died, and Fr, Theodore moved to the St. Alexander of Svir monastery. Theodore reposed on Bright Friday, April 7,1822, Leonid looked to a more secluded place. Leonid and his disciples came to Ploschansky Hermitage where he met Fr, Leonid accepted the invitation of Fr
4. Paisius Velichkovsky – Saint Paisius Velichkovsky or Wieliczkowski was an Eastern Orthodox monk and theologian who helped spread staretsdom or the concept of the spiritual elder to the Slavic world. He is a figure in Orthodox Church history. A Ukrainian by birth, Pyotr Velichkovsky was born on December 21,1722, in Poltava and he was the eleventh of twelve children. His grandfather was the poet Ivan Velichkovsky, in 1735, he was sent to study at the Kiev Theological Academy. In 1741, he became a monk, taking the name of “Platon”. However, his monastery was closed, because of the political stresses during the time. Here he was influenced by the monk Ignatii, who told him about the hesychastic fervor he had found in Romanian monasteries, during the lent of 1743, Platon travelled to the monastic environments of the Dălhăuţi, the Trăisteni, and the Carnul Sketes. The third Skete was located in Wallachia, all of them followed the Athonite hesychast observances. He spent the four years in solitary life and prayer. In 1750, he was visited by his former Starets, Basil of Poiana Mărului, who came on the Holy Mountain, and tonsured him as a lesser schema monk, with the name of Paisius. Following Basils advice, he decided to move away from the solitary life. In 1758 Paisius was ordained into priesthood by Bishop Gregory Rasca, Paisius perceived that spiritual life must be grounded in the study of the patristic ascetic texts. He began to collect and painstakingly copy out the writings of the ancient Holy Fathers using them as a guide in the spiritual life and his teachings attracted a number of disciples desiring guidance in the practice of unceasing prayer. Paisius wrote theological epistles to his disciples and translated into Church Slavonic a large number of Greek theological writings, St Paisius remained on Mt Athos for a total of seventeen years, copying Greek patristic books and translating them into Slavonic. In 1764, when Paisius was forty-two, Prince Grigore III Ghica of Moldavia asked him to come in his country, thereupon, he and 64 of his disciples moved to Moldavia, at the Dragomirna monastery, in Bucovina. Here Paisius continued his activity on transcribing and translating patristic sources, one of his disciples, the monk Raphael also translated a selection of texts from the Philokalia in Romanian. The community at Dragomirna grew quickly, gathering around 350 monks, however, after Bucovina was annexed by the Austrian Empire, Paisius and his community eventually relocated at the Neamţ Monastery, in 1779, during the vigil of the Dormition Feast. The new community grew to 700 monks, and it became a centre of pilgrimage
5. Paul of Taganrog – The Blessed starets Saint Paul of Taganrog dramatically influenced the belief in God and spiritual outlook of inhabitants of Taganrog, Don Land, South of Russia and Ukraine. A plain layman, who lived in Taganrog in the 19th century, he conciliated love and worship of Russian Orthodox Christians, Pavel Pavlovich Stozhkov was born on November 21,1792 in Malorossia guberniya of the Russian Empire in a rich noble family. His parents – collegiate registrar Pavel and Paraskeva – were devoutly religious people, they infused in the heart of their son belief in God, since his youth Pavel had felt a flaming love for holy places and pilgrimage. He related about himself, “All my desire was to pray to God, my intention was to go on pilgrimage to rescue my soul, because surrounding life was full of secular vanity and impeded my holy wish”. His father would never let him become a clergyman, he wanted to provide his son with a higher education, when Pavel was 25 years old, his father decided to divide the property between him and his elder brother Ivan. With a comfortable inheritance, the young ascetic dispensed it in Christs name, after 10 years of pilgrimage, Blessed Pavel settled in Taganrog in the years 1825–1830. Taganrog became the Saint’s second home city, where he lived a life with no regard for his noble birth. Blessed Pavel spent the first years of his life in Taganrog renting different flats, later, he moved into a house on Depaldo Street, not far from the Saint Nicholas Church. Thanks to the dean of Taganrog county, archpriest Alexander Klyunkov, Pavel devoted all of his life to serving God. Although Pavel was not in orders, essentially he led a monastic life in a bustling town, he kept constantly a severe fast. In his old age he drank only one cup of kvass with a soaked rusk a day and he slept also a little, commonly on the bare bench without a pillow. He put on plain peasant clothes and spoke simple Low-Russian language and he told nobody about his noble birth. During all his life he went to pray to the every day. Insensibly he accustomed his novices to this way of life, while there was the strength Blessed Paul often traveled to holy places, including journeys of 3000 versts on foot to Solovki more than once. But by old age he could go no longer, he dispatched to monasteries his novices and believers, Blessed Pavel was a preceptor full of love. All of his life, he received everyone in his keliya, liked to present people with gifts, to them, gave counsels on how to live. For the righteous life God endowed Paul with gifts of astuteness and prevision, with gifts to work miracles, Pavel became very famous during his lifetime. In the five years of his life, Blessed Pavel never went out of his house, ate
6. Seraphim of Sarov – Saint Seraphim of Sarov, born Prokhor Moshnin, is one of the most renowned Russian saints in the Eastern Orthodox Church. He is generally considered the greatest of the 19th-century startsy, Seraphim extended the monastic teachings of contemplation, theoria and self-denial to the layperson. He taught that the purpose of the Christian life was to acquire the Holy Spirit, perhaps his most popular quotation amongst Orthodox believers is Acquire a peaceful spirit, and thousands around you will be saved. Seraphim was glorified by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1903, pope John Paul II referred to him as a saint. Born 19 July 1754, the saint was baptized with the name of Prochor, after Saint Prochorus, one of the first Seven Deacons of the Early Church. His parents, Isidore and Agathia Moshnin, lived in Kursk and his father was a merchant, but business did not interest the devout boy. According to Orthodox Church tradition, an icon of the Theotokos. Seraphim later experienced a number of visions, in 1775, at the age of 17, he visited Saint Dorothea in Kiev. In 1777, at the age of 19, he joined the Sarov monastery as a novice, in 1786 he was officially tonsured and given the religious name of Seraphim. Shortly afterwards, he was ordained a hierodeacon, in 1793 he was ordained as a hieromonk and became the spiritual leader of the Diveyevo convent, which has since come to be known as the Seraphim-Diveyevo Convent. Soon after this, Seraphim retreated to a log cabin in the woods outside Sarov monastery, during this time his feet became swollen to the point that he had trouble walking. One day, while chopping wood, Seraphim was attacked by a gang of thieves who beat him mercilessly with the handle of his own axe and he never resisted, and was left for dead. The robbers never found the money they sought, only an icon of the Theotokos in his hut, Seraphim had a hunched back for the rest of his life. However, at the trial he pleaded to the judge for mercy on their behalf. In 1815, in obedience to a spiritual experience that he attributed to the Virgin Mary. He soon became popular due to his reputation for healing powers. Hundreds of pilgrims per day visited him, drawn as well by his ability to answer his guests questions before they could ask. As extraordinarily harsh as Seraphim often was to himself, he was kind and gentle toward others — always greeting his guests with a prostration, a kiss and he died while kneeling before an Umilenie icon of the Theotokos which he called Joy of all Joys
7. Sergius of Radonezh – Venerable Sergius of Radonezh, also transliterated as Sergey Radonezhsky or Serge of Radonezh, was a spiritual leader and monastic reformer of medieval Russia. Together with Venerable Seraphim of Sarov, he is one of the Russian Orthodox Churchs most highly venerated saints, the date of his birth is unclear, it could be 1314,1319, or 1322. His medieval biography states that he was born to Kiril and Maria, a family, near Rostov the Great. It is considered that it is the village Varnitsa near Rostov, the future saint received the baptismal name of Bartholomew in honor of the Apostle Bartholomew. Although an intelligent boy, Bartholomew had great difficulty learning to read and his biography states that a starets met him one day and gave him a piece of prosphora to eat, and from that day forward he was able to read. Orthodox Christians interpret the incident as being an angelic visitation, upon his parents death, Bartholomew went to Khotkovo near Moscow, where his older brother Stefan was a monk. He persuaded Stefan to find a secluded place to live the ascetic life. In the deep forest at Makovets Hill they decided to build a small cell, thus started the history of the great Trinity-St. In time, Stefan moved to a monastery in Moscow, varfolomei took monastic vows, taking the name Sergius, and spent more than a year in the forest alone as a hermit. Soon, however, other monks started coming to him and building their own cells, after some time, they persuaded him to become their hegumen, or father superior, and he was ordained to the priesthood. Following his example, all the monks had to live by their own labor, over time, more and more monks and donations came to this place. Nearby, there appeared a posad, which grew into the town of Sergiev Posad, when the news of Sergiuss accomplishments reached Patriarch Philotheus of Constantinople, he sent to him a monastic charter. During the reign of St. Dmitri Donskoi, his disciples started to spread his teaching across central and they settled intentionally in the most impracticable places and founded numerous monasteries, of which Borisoglebsky, Ferapontov, Kirillo-Belozersky and Vysotsky monasteries could be mentioned. St. Sergius was also connected with the foundation of two communities in Moscow, Andronikov and Simonov monasteries. All in all, the disciples of Sergius founded about 40 monasteries, thus extending the geographical extent of his influence. However, when Metropolitan Alexius asked him to become his successor, Sergius declined, as an ascetic, Sergius did not take part in the political life of the country. Some historians interpreted his political stance as aspiring to make peace, Sergius died on September 25,1392, and was glorified in 1452. His incorrupt relics were found in 1422 and placed in the new Trinity Cathedral of the lavra which he founded, the church commemorates him on September 25, the day of his death, and on July 5, the day his relics were uncovered
8. Nilus of Sora – The Russian Orthodox Church venerates Nil Sorsky as a saint, marking his feast day on the anniversary of his repose on May 7. Nilus of Sora, an ascetic of the Russian Church, was descended from the Maikov nobility. Before becoming a monk, Nil Sorsky worked as a scribe and was engaged in book copying, later in his life, he took monastic vows at the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery, which had been known for its hostile stance towards monastic landownership. The founder of the monastery – Saint Kirill of Beloozero – was himself known for rejecting villages that had offered to him by devout nobles. Kirill’s followers adopted his ways and would become known as the startsy from out the Volga with Nil Sorsky as their leader. Soon, he went on a journey to the Holy Land and visited Palestine, Constantinople, upon his return to Russia, Nil Sorsky founded a cloister on the Sora River not far from the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery, where he would settle down with his followers. Nil Sorsky was involved in the Novgorod heresy affair, which had stirred a lot of minds in Russia at that time. It appears that Sorsky and his closest associate Paisiy Yaroslavov were much more tolerant towards the heretics than most of the Russian clergy, led by Gennady, the two elders, however, did not treat heresy with indifference. They were both present at the Synod of 1490, which dealt with heresy, and exerted their influence upon its final decision, initially, the clergy unanimously spoke in support of burning all the heretics at the stake. At the conclusion of the synod, however, only a few priests were condemned, later in the decade, however, several heretics were burned in both Novgorod and Moscow. Nil Sorsky demanded that monks participate in productive labor and spoke in support of reforms on a basis of a secluded. Nil Sorsky dedicated his efforts towards fighting against monastic landownership rights at the Synod of 1503 in Moscow, Nil Sorsky was supported by the elders of the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery and his disciple Vassian Patrikeyev. Although he spoke in favor of Ivan III’s policy of secularization of monastic lands, Patrikeyev and Artemius of the Trinity were Nil Sorsky’s successors. Webpage on Nil Sorsky Saint Nil Sorsky in French, with rich iconography & hymnography