May 15th (V - 28)
Icon of Saint Anastasias and Monk Pachomios the Great
Monk Pachomios the Great (+ 348). Sainted Isaiah, Bishop of Rostov, Wonderworker (+ 1090). Blessed Tsarevich Dimitrii, of Uglich and Moscow (+ 1591). Monk Isaiah of Pechersk (+ 1115). Monk Pakhomii of Nerekhtsk (+ 1384). Monks Evphrosyn and his student Serapion, of Pskov (+ 1481). Monk Achilles, Bishop of Lariseia (+ c. 330). Saint Anastasias.
The Monk Pachomios the Great, together with Anthony the Great (Comm. 17 January), Makarios the Great (Comm. 19 January), and Euthymios the Great (Comm. 20 January), was both an exemplar of wilderness dwelling, and a founder of the monastic "life-in-common" coenobitism in Egypt. The Monk Pacholios was born in the III Century in the Thebaid (Upper Egypt). His parents were pagans and he received an excellent secular education. From youth he had the traits of good character, he was prudent of sensible in mind. When Pacholios reached age 20, he was called up into the army of the emperor Constantine (apparently, in the year 315). They settled the new conscripts into the edifice of a city prison under a guard of sentries. The local Christians came with supplies of food, they fed the soldiers and they took sincere care of them. When the youth learned, that these people acted thus for the sake of their God, fulfilling His commandment about love for neighbour, this made a deep impression upon his pure soul. Pacholios made a vow to become a Christian. Having returned from the army after the victory, Pacholios accepted holy Baptism, resettled himself into the lonely settlement of Shenesit and immediately he began to lead a strict ascetic life. Sensing the need for spiritual guidance, he turned to the Thebaid wilderness dweller Palamon. He was fondly accepted by the elder, and he began to proceed through monastic efforts on the example of his instructor.One time, after 10 years of wilderness life, the Monk Pacholios was making his way through the desert, when he halted at the ruins of the former village of Tabennis and here he heard a Voice, ordering him to form at this place a monastery. Pachomios reported about this to the elder Palamon, and they both considered the words heard to be a command from God. They set out to Tabennis and began by building there a small monastic hovel. The holy elder Palamon blessed the beginning foundations of the monastery and made a prediction of its future glory. But soon also the Monk Palamon expired to the Lord. An Angel of God then appeared to Saint Pacholios in the form of a schemamonk and entrusted to him an ustav-rule of monastic life. And soon his own elder brother John came and settled there together with him.
The Monk Pachomios underwent many a temptation and assault from the enemy of the race of man, but the Monk Pachomios bravely warded off all the temptations by his prayer to God and endurance.
Gradually there began a gathering of followers to the Monk Pachomios. Their teacher impressed everyone by his love for work, whereby he managed to accomplish all kinds of monastic tasks: he cultivated a garden, he conversed with those that arrived seeking guidance, and he tended to the sick. The Monk Pachomios introduced a monastic rule of "life-in-common", making everything the same for everyone in food and attire. The monks of the monastery were to toil at the obediences assigned them for the common good of the monastery. Among the various obediences was the re-copying of books. The monks were not to possess their own money nor to accept anything from their kinsfolk. The Monk Pachomios considered that an obedience, fulfilled with zeal, was higher than fasting or prayer, and he demanded from the monks an exact observance of the monastic rule, strictly chastising flaggards.
To the Monk Pachomios one time came his sister Maria, who for a long time had wanted to see her brother. But the strict ascetic refused seeing her and via the gate-keeper he gave her the blessing to enter upon the path of monastic life, promising his help with this. Maria wept, but did as her brother had ordered. The Tabennis monks built her an hut on the opposite side of the River Nile. And to Maria also there began to gather nuns, and soon there was formed a women's monastery with a strict monastic rule, provided by the Monk Pachomios.
The number of monks at the monastery grew quickly, and it necessitated the building of 7 more monasteries in the vicinity. The number of monks reached 7,000, -- all under the guidance of the Monk Pachomios, who visited at all the monasteries and administered them. But at the same time Saint Pachomios remained a deeply humble monk, who was always ready to comply with and accept the remarks of each brother.
Severe and strict towards himself, the Monk Pachomios had great kindness and condescension towards the spiritually immature deficiencies of monks. One of the monks was ardent for the deed of martyrdom, but the Monk Pachomios swayed him from this yearning and instructed him quietly to fulfill his monastic obedience, taming the pride in himself and training him in humility. One time a monk would not heed his advice and went off from the monastery, during which time he was set upon by brigands, who under the threat of death forced him to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. Filled with despair, the monk returned to the monastery. The Monk Pachomios ordered him to pray intensely night and day, keep strict fast and live in complete solitude. The monk followed his advice, and this saved his soul from despair.
The monk taught to avoid against judging others and he himself feared to be judgemental of anyone even in thought.
It was with an especial love that the Monk Pachomios concerned himself over the sick monks. He visited them, he cheered up the disheartened, he urged them to be thankful to God and put their hope in His holy will. For the sick he lightened the fasting, if this should aid in their recovery of health. One time in the absence of the monk, the cook did not prepare the monks any cooked food, on the presumption that the brethren loved to fast. Instead of doing his obedience, this monk plaited 500 mats, something which the Monk Pachomios had not encouraged. In punishment for the disobedience, all the mats prepared by the cook were ordered burnt.
The Monk Pachomios always taught the monks to have hope only upon the help and mercy of God. At the monastery it happened that there was an insufficiency of grain. The saint spent the whole night at prayer, and in the morning there came from the main city a large quantity of bread for the monastery, at no expense. The Lord granted the Monk Pachomios the gift of wonderworking and healing the sick.
The Lord revealed to him the ultimate fate of monasticism. The monk learned, that successive monks would not have such zeal in their efforts as did the first, and they would walk in the darkness of not having experienced guides. Prostrating himself upon the ground, the Monk Pachomios wept bitterly, calling out to the Lord and imploring mercy for them. In answer he heard a Voice: "Pachomios, be mindful of the mercy of God. About the monks to come, know that they shalt receive recompense, since that they too shalt have occasion to suffer the life burdensome for the monk".
Towards the end of his life the Monk Pachomios likewise fell ill from a pestilence that afflicted the region. His closest and beloved disciple, the Monk Theodore (Comm. 17 May), tended to him with a filial love. The Monk Pachomios died in about the year 348 at age 53, and he was buried on an hill near the monastery.
The Monk Isaiah was among the other Kievo-Pechersk Saints that asceticised during the XI and beginning XII Centuries. His basic exploit in life was his quietness and his unflagging toil, for which he is named a "lover-of-work". The holy ascetic died in the year 1115, and his relics are in the Nearer Caves of the Kievo-Pechersk Lavra. The celebration of the Monk Isaiah is made on 15 May, 28 September and on the 2nd Sunday of Great Lent.
The Monk Pakhomii of Nerekhtsk, in the world Yakov, was born into the family of a priest at Vladimir on the Klyaz'ma. At age 7 he was sent for schooling, since from childhood he well knew the Holy Scriptures. Finding burdensome the bustle of the perishing world, he accepted tonsure at the Vladimir Nativity monastery and without murmur at the monastery he progressed through the various obediences. Yearning for solitary wilderness life, the ascetic secretly left the monastery and withdrew to the outskirts of Nerekhta. Here, at the River Gridenka, he found a suitable place for monastic life -- a raised semi-island in the deep forest. The monk recoursed to the people about Nerekhta to establish and build a monastery in the vicinity of Sypanovo, on the Kostroma frontier. The Nerekhta people happily consented and took a significant part in the construction of the monastery. The Monk Pakhomii wrote an icon in the image of the Holy Trinity, and with the singing of a molieben he carried it to that place, whereat he was to erect the church in the Name of the Holy Trinity. Finishing with the construction of the temple, Saint Pakhomii concerned himself about the organising of the new monastery, where gradually monks were settling. At the newly-formed monastery the monks had to cultivate the land themselves and feed themselves by the toil of their own hands, a matter in which the saint was first to set the brethren an example. The monk died in the year 1384, well up in age, and he was buried in the Trinity church built by him. One of his disciples, Irinarkh, wrote an icon of the saint, and later there was built a crypt for his holy relics. The primary days of memory of the Monk Pakhomii are on 15 May, the day of "tezoimenstvo" ("name-in-common"), and on 23 March -- the day of his repose.
The Monk Evphrosyn of Pskov, in the world Eleazar, was born in about the year 1386 in the village of Videlebo, near Pskov, -- the same village where also had been born the Monk Nikandr of Pskov (Comm. 24 September). His parents wanted that Eleazar would enter into marriage, but secretly he withdrew to the Snetogorsk monastery (on the Snyatni hill, now in Pskov itself) and there accepted tonsure.
In about the year 1425, searching to more deeply concentrate at prayer, the Monk Evphrosyn with the blessing of the monastery-head resettled in a solitary cell at the River Tolva, not far from Pskov. But concern for the salvation of neighbour impelled the monk to disrupt his wilderness dwelling, and he began to receive everyone that was in need of an experienced starets-elder and guide. The Monk Evphrosyn blessed those coming to him to live according to a skete monastic ustav-rule, compiled by him himself.
The ustav of the Monk Evphrosyn presents a rather generalised guidance for monks about the worthiness of proceeding on the monastic path -- "how it becometh monks to dwell". He does not address the strict ordering of all aspects of monastic life, as did, for example, the ustav of the Monk Joseph of Volotsk; there is nothing at all in it concerning the aspects of Divine-services.
In 1447 at the request of the brethren, the Monk Evphrosyn built a church in honour of the Three Sainted-Hierarchs Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostomos -- who vouchsafed him their vision, and also in honour of the Monk Onuphrios the Great (Comm. 12 July). The monastery afterwards received the name Spaso-Eleazarov. Out of humility and his love for solitary efforts, the monk did not accept the title of hegumen, but instead bestowed this upon his disciple the Monk Ignatii, and he lived in the forest near a lake.
The Monk Evphrosyn died at the advanced age of 95, on 15 May 1481. At his crypt, by order of the Novgorod archbishop Gennadii, was placed an icon-image written while yet alive by his disciple Ignatii, and included there also was the last-testament of the monk to the brethren on a shred of parchment, imprinted with the lead-seal of the Novgorod archbishop Theophil. This is one of very few last-testaments, written in their own hand by ascetics.
The Monk Evphrosyn, the originator of Pskov wilderness-life, schooled many famed disciples, who likewise created monasteries and carried the graced-seeds of ascetic life throughout all the Pskov lands. Among the disciples of the Monk Evphrosyn -- were the skete starets-elders -- the Monk Savva of Krypetsk (the account about him is located under 28 August); the Monk Dosiphei of Verkhneostrov (+ 8 October); the Monk Onuphrii of Mal'sk (+ 12 June); the Monk Joachim of Opochsk (+ 9 September); the Monk Ilarion of Gdovsk (+ 21 October); the Monk Khariton of Kudinsk -- founder and hegumen of a monastery at Lake Kudina alongside Toroptsa (XVI); and the locally venerated brothers by birth from Pskov Ignatii, Kharalampii and Pamphil, buried at the Spaso-Eleazarov monastery.
Sainted Achilles, Bishop of Lariseia, lived during the IV Century, during the reign of Equal-to-the-Apostles Constantine the Great. Glorified by his sanctity of life and erudition, he was made bishop of the city of Lariseia in Thessaly. Saint Achilles was a participant in the First OEcumenical Council, where he boldly denounced the heretic Arius. In his city he zealously cultivated Christianity, destroying idolous pagan-temples, and he built and adorned churches. Saint Achilles had the gift of healing sickness, especially demonic-possession, and he worked many miracles. The saint died peacefully in about the year 330. His relics since the year 978 are in Bulgaria at the city of Prespa (at present -- the village of Akhila, called such in honour of the deceased saint).