Sergius of Radonezh

Sergius of Radonezh

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Sergius of Radonezh

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Sergius of Radonezh

Icon of Sergius of Radonezh, 17th century
Venerable
Born c. 1320, Rostov Velikiy
Died September 25, 1392, Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra
Venerated in Eastern Orthodox Church
Byzantine Catholic Churches
Canonized 1452
Major shrine Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra
Feast Repose: September 25
Uncovering of Relics: July 5
Attributes Dressed as a monk
Patronage Russia

Venerable Sergius of Radonezh (Сергий Радонежский, Sergii Radonezhsky)—also translated 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 a venerated Russian saint.

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[edit] Early life

Vision to the Youth Bartholomew, by Mikhail Nesterov (1890).

The date of his birth is unclear: it could be 1314, 1319, or 1322. As his medieval Life states, he was born to a boyar family near Rostov Velikiy, where Varnitsy Monastery now stands. He was originally baptized with the name Bartholomaeus. His parents Kirill and Maria became impoverished and moved to Radonezh together with their three sons: Stefan, Bartholomew, and Peter. Although an intelligent boy, Bartholomew had great difficulty learning to read. His Life 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.

[edit] Becoming a monk

Upon his parents' death, Bartholomew went to Khotkovo near Moscow, where his older brother Stefan was a monk. He persuaded Stefan to find a more secluded place to live the ascetic life. In the deep forest at Makovets hill they decided to build a small cell and a church dedicated in honor of the Trinity. Thus started the history of the great Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra.

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, others monks started coming to him and building their own cells. After some time, they persuaded him to become their hegumen, or father superior, and 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, and other villages.

Icon of Sergius of Radonezh painted for Abramtsevo church by Viktor Vasnetsov, 1882

When the news of Sergius's life 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 northern Russia. They settled intentionally in the most impracticable places and founded numerous monasteries, of which Borisoglebsky, Ferapontov, Kirillo-Belozersky and Vysotsky[1] monasteries could be mentioned. St Sergius was also connected with the foundation of two monastic communities in Moscow - Andronikov and Simonov monasteries. All in all, disciples of Sergius founded about 400 monasteries, thus greatly extending the geographical extent of his influence and authority. However, when the Metropolitan Alexius asked him to become his successor, Sergius declined, preferring to remain a simple monk.

Sergius of Radonezh blessing Dmitri Donskoi before the Battle of Kulikovo

As an ascetic, Sergius did not take part in the political life of the country. However, he blessed Dmitry Donskoy when he went to fight the Tatars in the signal Battle of Kulikovo field—but only after he was certain Dmitry had pursued all peaceful means of resolving the conflict. Some historians interpreted his political stance as aspiring to make peace and unite Russian lands under the leadership of Moscow.

Sergius died on September 25, 1392 and was canonized 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. See September 25 (Eastern Orthodox liturgics). Among the many affectionate titles given him, he has been referred to as the "Abbot of Russia" and "valiant voevod" of the Russian land.[2]

The Roman Catholic Church recognizes officially Sergius as a saint, listing him in the Martyrologium Romanum.

The ecumenical Fellowship of Saint Alban and Saint Sergius is named in part for him.

[edit] References

  1. ^ Vysotsky Monastery's History
  2. ^ Simeon Shakhovsky, Akathist to St Sergius

[edit] External links