Valaam Monastery has existed for more than a thousand years. It is the
oldest monastery  in the Russian land. In spite of all the historical
vicissitudes that have been unfavorable for the thriving of its monastic
life, it has nevertheless survived as a living witness to monasticism in
Russia. Its heroes, monks that excelled in the virtues of Christ's
humility, shine through the ages as guiding beacons to the monks of the
21st century. Valaam monasticism, through St. Herman in Alaska, is
America's Inheritance and is potent to reawaken a blossoming of ascetic
mysticism upon her grounds.

The Valaam Society of America, through the St. Herman Brotherhood,
considers it their sacred duty to make a complete Valaam Patericon
available, including visionary icons of its major heroes who also
appeared on the horizon of the three "New Valaam" branches: in America,
Siberia and Finland. The collection of portraits in this Valaam Book of
Days has been gathered by the Society over the years, and is a graphic
witness to sanctity. This photographic collection and the accompanying
brief biographical sketches are enhanced by the calendar listings of all
the Valaam ascetics known to us that were canonized as saints of the
monastery island itself or who were her spiritual offspring and later
either founded or went to other monasteries.

New Valaam Monastery on Monks' Lagoon is America's repository for her
Valaam Inheritance and is available to spiritually nurture the newly
rising younger generation. Its potential must be realized by the ascetic
labors of God-thirsting neophytes and tapped. The Valaam Fathers who
gaze at us from these pages invite all to embrace the age-old tradition
of love of struggle against the powers of darkness as the modern
frontier of carrying the love of Christ to the end of time.

Abbot Herman

 and the Brothers of the St. Herman 

of Alaska Monastery

Christmas 1998

Saints of Solovki  Herman, Sabbatius and Zosima 

August 9

A monk of Valaam, Herman, seeking further desolate regions in the
Northern Thebaid, reached its end—the White Sea in the Arctic region of
Northern Russia He heard of the desolate island of Solovki and decided
to go there. Another monk, Sabbatius, leaving his native St Cyril of
White Lake Monastery, lived for a time on Valaam and subsequently left
there too for the North It was the meeting of these two seekers that
resulted in their finding Solovki. But it took the third one, Zosima, a
disciple of the Valaam saint, Cornelius of Palei Lake, to make Solovki
into a monastery, where Zosima became the first abbot. These three
Valaam monks founded one of the most fascinating offsprings of Valaam
which, however, did not escape Soviet desecration. It was turned into a
brutal concentration camp full of inhumanity and destruction Having
escaped this lot after seventy years, it is again a monastery today,
full of spiritual power and beauty. The great Russian writer
Solzhenitsyn, who was incarcerated in Solovki when it was one of the
most severe concentration camps, used much of his Nobel prize assets to
restore the monastery to its external, pre-soviet state.


Abbot  Barlaam


January 26

A true disciple of Abbot Nazarius and one of his successors as abbot, Fr
Barlaam found the position of monastic leader too intense and retired so
as to be with Elder Leonid in Optina, where he died a righteous death He
was a close friend of St Herman of Alaska, since both of them spent time
together as novices under Abbot Nazanus He retained his love for Valaam
to the end of his life, describing it as a haven for desert dwellers,
whom he had often visited, they sat in the bosom of silent nature, undis
turbed even by the wild animals that inhabited the islands of paradisal
Valaam By God's Providence, there were never any bears or other such
wild animals that might have hurt the defenseless hermits The re tired
Abbot Barlaam was a man of deep contemplation and inward stillness Once,
meeting Elder Leonid for the first time, he inquired and learned from
him that there are two paths of stillness, "the unique and the general "
This intrigued his spiritual inquisitiveness, until he learned through
personal experience what this meant—interior silence, when the soul is
undisturbed even when surrounded by tumult.

Schema-monk Sergius


 January 6

Schema-monk Sergius (Symeon Yanovsky) was converted during his term as
Governor of Russian-American Alaska by the Valaam missionary, St Herman
Returning to Russia, he sought the ascetic life He went to Valaam and
saw the life there, and then visited Optma, where a Valaam abbot was
then living in retirement But his destiny was to live a secular life, as
an educator of youth He raised his own family, and his son became an
Opt-ina monk, while his three daughters became nuns, one of whom was
even an abbess He wrote to and received precious letters from St Herman
in Alaska His Valaam correspondence with Abbot Damascene enabled the
latter to create the first biography of St. Herman, which included a
portrait of the saint His last years were spent as a Valaam-type
schema-monk in the St Tikhon of Kaluga Hermitage, where mysterious
visions encouraged his last days. He saw his own guardian angel and died
at Theophany His grave was cared for by Father Gerasim, who eventually
went to Alaska to take care of the grave of St Herman, who had converted
Yanovsky, so that the latter himself became a monk in the spirit of

St. Antipas I


 January 10

Elder Antipas, a Romanian monk on Mr Athos, was instrumental in founding
the Romanian 'Prodromou' Skete with his Elder Niphont, who tonsured him
and laid his beginning as a desert dweller Fr Antipas found an icon of
the Mother of God and took it as a blessing for his travels After a few
years he became the abbot of one of Niphonts monasteries but was sent to
Russia to raise funds and there found Va-laam, where he decided to
remain He was granted the gift of seeing into the mysteries of the souls
of others, and his grace-filled life quickly drew many brothers to him
for counsel He ended his days as a beloved and highly respected elder of
Valaam His relics were recently discovered and he was canonized as a
local saint His reliquary is located in the same church as that of the
founders ofValaam In addition to being an inspirer to monks to lead an
exalted way of life, he was also an inspiration to the future New Martyr
Bishop Arsenius of Serpukhov The latter, on his first and only visit to
Valaam, spent deep hours of prayer to decide his future at St Antipas'
grave, which was located at a distance from the rest, near the Golgotha

Bishop Ioasaph


January 22

The first Orthodox hierarch of America, loasaph Bo-lorov, graduated and
taught religion in the Yaroslavl seminary. From there he went to Valaam
and was the disciple of Abbot Nazarius, who chose him to head the first
mission to America In Alaska he baptized thousands of natives, who
eagerly sought Baptism for the salvation of their souls But when some
would hesitate, St loasaph would appear to them in dreams, urging them
to go to Kodiak to receive the Sacrament of Baptism. In order to better
the lot of the Aleuts he went to Russia, where he was consecrated a
bishop and sent back to Alaska But the ship never reached Kodiak—St
loasaph and his fellow missionaries suffered a watery martyrdom, thus
sealing his act of confession for posterity as the first American
hierarch, who laid down his life as a sacrifice for America He wrote the
first ethnological accounts of Alaska, including a thorough description
of the native Aleuts and their religion, which was later published. On
the centennial of his repose Bishop Tikhon, the future Patriarch of
Russia, when visiting Kodiak called Hierarch loasaph "equal to the
Apostles," and asked that a church school be established in his name.

Abbot Damascene


January 25  

In the direct line of Paisius Velichkovsky's disciples,Cleopas, Theodore
and Euthymius, the humble Abbot Damascene was placed as head of Valaam,
that Athos of the North, at the insistence of such a luminary as Bishop
Ignanus Bnanchaninov Abbot Damascene fortified the eremitic life by
building isolated sketes with an austere typicon which bore fruit an
hundred fold for generations of great ascetics Thus, Abbot Damascene is
rightly called a builder of saints He is also called a saint, as he has
been known to appear from the other world to console and protect those
who keep his memory It is interesting to note that though he was a
simple, uneducated man, Abbot Damascene possessed a great sense of
appreciation of the arts he encouraged artists, musicians and students
to visit Valaam and create by being inspired by Va-laam's natural beauty
The painters Shishkm, Aivazovsky, and the composer Tchaikovsky were
among them The latter, having been snowed-in on Valaam, had an
opportunity to hearken to inspiration and wrote his first symphony, in
which he depicted the blizzard and the freeze and thaw of the watery
element He entitled this work "Winter Dreams".

 Anchorite Isaiah


January 8

One writer (Nemirovich Danchenko), having visited Valaam, called it the
kingdom of muzhiks, pointing to the peasant make-up of its monks But in
actuality he hinted at the holy aspect of the simple Russian peasantry
that filled many monasteries with men of God Such was the un
sophisticated ascetic Father Isaiah, hidden from the eye of the world as
a simpleton, bur in actuality a saint He went through the usual severe
Valaam basic training and, when ripe to be molded by God, he secluded
himself m a remote skete cell to face his Master He never washed the
smoke from the stove off his cell walls, he covered his windows so that
his cell felt like a cave or a grave There, in the silence of his dark
cell, he became a partaker of noetic mysticism But he was observable to
us only in his se vere self-denial, as he endured cold, hunger and pain
It was discovered after his death that his toenails had grown into his
boots, a condition which he had endured as an act of asceticism This was
not a deliberate self-mortification, but the result of a man's total
preoccupation with visions from above (theona) to the neglect of "all
below ".

Elder Theodore


February 5

In his childhood the future Fr Theodoritus (Theodore in schema) fell on
the ice He lost consciousness and was paralyzed for several years He was
healed by a certain blind clairvoyant woman, whom he later served for
six years She taught him to read the Bible and sent him to Valaam, where
he became a monk He was a cook for years in the remote Tikhvm Skere When
ordained, he was appointed abbot of the Sts Boris and Gleb Monastery in
the Tver region His hard experience as an "abba" lasted only a few
years, and he returned to Valaam and lived in retirement, tending the
orchard on a tiny island with a chapel dedicated to St Seraphim of Sarov
He was a man of deep spirituality, and had many spiritual children He
loved to serve all-night vigils in the Athonite style, in the silence of
his wilderness, outdoors, amidst nature, singing aloud the divine
services beneath heaven's starry vault, observed by no one but his
Creator He lived on Valaam for 32 years Just as he loved to pray
unobserved, so also did Divine Providence ordain that his death be seen
by no one save God He appeared to his beloved disciple Joel after his
repose to prepare him to follow him to his eternal rest.

Abbot Chariton


October 27

From childhood the future abbot loved to copy quotes from books he was
reading. This eventually led him to copy excerpts from patristic books,
especially on the Jesus Prayer. Two thick volumes of quotes resulted. An
encounter with St. John of Kronstadt finalized his entry into Valaam
Monastery. When Abbot Paulinus retired in 1927, Fr. Chariton was chosen
as abbot and had to face trials bound up with the enforcement of the
secular calendar by the Finnish Church. He chose this rather than
repatriation to Russia. One night the monks saw a vision of angels sadly
marching across the frozen lake, which turned out to be prophetic. It
was Abbot Chariton's lot to move with all the monks in the dead of
winter across frozen Lake Ladoga to Finland, as the Red Army was about
to invade Valaam. The monastic life was transplanted to New Valamo, and
after W. W. II they joyfully returned to the Church Calendar, but the
wounds of the calendar break were fatal. Valaam never really recovered.
Chariton remains in the history of Valaam as a true abbot, having
steered well the helm of its mighty ship.

Abbot Nazarius


February 23

A severe Sarov Monastery as cenc from the age of 17, and a counselor
during the publication of the first Philoka-ha. in Russia, he revived
ancient Valaam, after almost two centuries of desolation, by installing
the Sarov Rule there Living such a refined spiritual life he inspired a
whole army of holy monks for a century hence, including such
saint-disciples as Herman of Alaska and later, Seraphim of Sarov After
sending off the first Or thodox Mission to America, he left Valaam to
retire to Sarov, where in the bosom of nature he wandered the forest in
a state of ecstasy, truly a monk not of this world Abbot Nazarius was
formed by great luminaries of his time St Tikhon of Za-donsk, Elder
Theodore of Sanaxar and St Paisius Ve-lichkovsky  Even during his
lifetime the holy foundress of Diveyevo Convent, Alexandra, would pray
before his portrait when in trouble, and he would always hear from afar
Abbot Nazarius possessed a poetic gift of speech, which can be seen from
his "Counsels" to monks on daily life These basic "rules" are the
inheritance of American monastics, upon which to build Holy America.

Hieromonk Justinian  


February 27

Elder Justinian came to Va laam as an adolescent and was educated in the
Valaam or phanage The monks raised him with prayer obedience and a
strong will against the passions Once in order to con quer a temptation,
he stood in cold water up to his neck until he was delivered from the at
tack He had a leg disability and when his brothers mocked him, saying it
was due to his sins he wept saying that he did not know what the sin was
This in nocence eventually attracted the attention of the elders, and
they called him to become the confessor and counselor for the youth When
it came time to defend the traditions of the Old Calendar he conesponded
with Mount Athos scholars, such as Hieroschema monk Theodosius of
Karouha, and this resulted in an entire book, later edited by Abbot
Chanron He was made father confessor for the nuns of Linrula Convent and
lovingly served them until his repose, when he fell asleep in the Lord
with a smile upon his face He was warmly remembered by one of his young
novices, who lived the rest of his asceucal life in the presence of a
life size poster of the photo at the left, so as to feel that the elder
was with him.

Schema-monk Sisoes


 March 7

Having arrived on Valaam during the abbacy of Damascene and having
become fully absorbed by the spirit of that monastic general, Elder
Sisoes (Seraphim before the schema) became an elder, directing monks
souls in the art of unseen warfare, so that long lines of monks would
wait at his door for counsel For fifty years he lived in Valaam and its
various sketes as well as in the merochia in St Petersburg and Moscow He
ended his life as a staunch defender of the Church Calendar and
hesychasnc way of life so typical of the monks of Valaam  Elder Sisoes
had as disciples among others. Monk Justinian who left brief
biographical data on his elder He claimed that Elder Sisoes was a
possessor of the unceasing Jesus Prayer which would automati cally
murmur in his heart, of ten accompanied by an abundance of rears He
would sweetly whisper, Jesus, have mercy, and everything around him
would be transformed as he lay in the infirmary with other schema monks
who, dressed in their cowls and with their arms crossed, waited on the
Lord's grace, for their souls to be pulled' out of them, so they could
fly straight to heaven.

Elder Schema-monk Nicetas


 April 21

An epitome of Christ's meekness and humility, this simple monk reached
great heights under Abbot Dam-ascene's guidance and, hidden in the azure
stillness of Valaam's islands with their sketes and desert cells, he
became a saint, yet to be canonized, like many other of Valaam's men of
God His wish was to die on Pascha, and God granted his request in the
quiet of All Saints' Skete, in anticipation of the eternal Pascha, he
died on Great Saturday to meet his risen Lord in heaven Elder Nicetas
was a close friend of Elders Alexis and Agapit, both of whom contributed
to Elder Nicetas' spiritual growth There are numerous accounts of his
clairvoyance and working of miracles But his ever glowing spiritual icon
is that of an em bodiment of meekness and hu mility of wisdom His
mystical eyes were opened to the world of the angels of God and the
angels of darkness Once, at prayer, he had the thought that the angel of
light is on the right and the angel of darkness on the left Hardly had
the thought entered his mind when he beheld the fallen one, in full
armor, next to his bed He shuddered and crossed himself, saying, Let God
arise and let His enemies be scattered, and the demon vanished.

St. Euphrosynus of Blue J1ay Lake


 March 20

A native of the Valaam region, St Euphrosynus spent his boyhood with the
monks and early on assimilated an austere way of life As a result, after
becoming a monk he was prepared even to give his life as a martyr for
Christ, having already put his fallen nature to death through a
"bloodless martyrdom" of gradual and total reorientation of his whole
being towards God through love of Him The saint founded a beautiful
monastery on the shore of a marshy lake where his disciples continued to
uphold the Valaam ideal The Time of Troubles did not spare his monastery
After his martyric death the monastery was totally destroyed, and for
three centuries it lay desolate At the beginning of this century new
life had Just begun, when it was again destroyed, this time by the Red
Beast of communism Yet today it is once more rising from the ashes In
the account of his life, there is an extremely tender passage when the
Saint, having foreseen with his spiritual eyes the approaching disaster
and destruction of his monastery, pleads with his disciple, Jonah, to
accept a martyric crown As a result, the disciple Joined his abba.

Abbot Philemon of Jordanville


April 5

After being expelled from his beloved Valaam with 25 other monks for
refusing to accept the un-Orthodox secular calendar, he found a refuge
in Serbia From there he Joined the St Job of Pochaev Monastic
Brotherhood in Czechoslovakia, and later came to America to the Holy
Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, in northern New York State He became
the monastery's main confessor and adhered strictly to his beloved
Valaam tradition to the end He arose before all the brothers at 3 30 in
the morning and performed his Valaam Rule   Though he was
missionary-minded, in his heart he was a poet and always longed for
Valaam and its iso-lared natural surroundings Fr Philemon's poetic gift
was inspired by monastic life on Valaam, surrounded by its Godly beauty
Its eloquence was especially touching when it spoke of his having to
part with Valaam Being clairvoyant, he foretold his own repose and the
fact that it would snow "as on Valaam" when he would be buried His
disciple, Father Vladimir, in whose arms Fr Philemon died, continued in
the same spirit of cheerfulness and extreme sobriety, gathering devoted

Elder Agapit


 April 7

A native of the Yaroslavl re gion Agapit came to Valaam and was formed
by the great Abbot Damascene into a veritable bastion of spirituality
saturated in the Jesus Prayer His abundant correspondence with St
Theophan the Recluse shaped his ascetic world view and made him a
profound ex pert in the Jesus Prayer and a teacher for several
generations Having lost his natural sight, he gained spiritual sight,
whereby he would recognize people at a distance by merely hearing the
movement of their steps in the corridor as they walked to his cell for
confession It would not be wrong to call Fr Agapit a Holy Father and
teacher of the Prayer of Jesus and spiritual life, and there seems to be
enough evidence for his canonization Elder Agapit s writings on sobri
ety watchfulness and contem plation although brief, breathe the true
Philokalic spirit of the ancients, and deserve to be remembered among
the classics of spirituality He also corre sponded with many, this
episco logical treasure has apparently not survived but perhaps under
todays new, favorable conditions some portion of it may surface Holy
Father Agapit, pray to God for us.

Elder Michael II


 April 15

A true disciple of Elder Michael I the Confessor, Father Timon (Michael
in schema) continued after his preceptor for thirty years in firm
adherence to the Church Calendar, both within the walls of Valaam and
later in the Finnish Valamo, where he witnessed the gradual death of the
wounded Valaam. He led an extremely reclusive way of life, liturgizing
daily in his cell. Being a true son of Holy Russia, which was then being
martyred, he longed to co-suffer with it and to lay down his bones in
its hallowed soil. He left for Russia, and after a few years of total
re-elusion died in the Pskov Caves Monastery, and was buried in its
caves. Elder Michael was the last Great Elder of Valaam. Half-blind, yet
spiritually clairvoyant, he possessed all the attributes of a true son
of Holy Russia. He venerated the martyred Royal Family as Great-martyrs
and never abandoned suffering Holy Russia. There exists a series of
recorded talks he had with the Oxford scholar Sergius Bol-shakov, which
sheds a ray of light into the Interior Silence of his life. A whole book
was written by one of his spiritual daughters, Nun Maria (Stakho-vich),
with this as its title.

Elder Alexis


April 19

Beginning in Valaam as a devoted disciple of Abbot Damascene, Elder
Alexis ended his stern life in sober prayer and asceticism He rapidly
grew strong in prayer be cause he took care to converse peacefully with
God,' as he used to say When he became a confessor to the brethren, it
demanded much of his time, but he always prayed zealously He never
abandoned his prayer, and fulfilled his dream to live a secluded life in
a skete By the end of his life he radiated the beauty of an angel When
in the altar he would try to hide this by pretending to be vain and
distracted Elder Alexis ended his life in a state of full pre paration
for the other world He was one of the pillars of Valaam asceticism He
discovered the relics of Elder Cleopas, a disciple of St Paisius
VeIichkovsky who was buried in All Saints Skete, to be fragrant, like
those of a saint of God He requested that he be buried beside Elder
Cleopas which was granted when he reposed in the fragrance of sanctity
The great mystic, Archbishop Theophan of Poltava, testified to Fr Alexis
great gift of clairvoyance, which he witnessed when he visited Valaam
for spiritual guidance and consolation.

Schema-monk Nicholas


April 24

Father Nicholas came ro Valaam at the age of 20, in despair because of
the premature death of his wife, and laid a good beginning by waging a
severe war with the prince of darkness But his despair over the loss of
his young, beautiful wife caused him to forger his monastic calling One
inclement night during his depression, he saw a vision of his own
funeral proces sion This frightened him to such an extent that he ran to
his elder, Fr Theodoritus, in the middle of the night, through the dark
forest This vision caused him to cease his unseemly mourning, and he
sobered up for good For many years he la bored as a schema monk in the
Skete of the Konevits Icon of the Theotokos, where he was known for his
childlikeness and lovingkindness towards visitors, who recalled him as a
virtual saint Being bedridden, he foresaw his own death, and went to the
Lord while singing by heart his favorite akathist to the ' Sweetest Lord
Jesus " This simple monk was a great doer of the Jesus Prayer, and was
sought out as an "expert" by various learned theologians who came to
Valaam, even from abroad, such as Fr Sergius Chetverikov, who
co-authored some works with Abbot Chariton.

Hieromonk Eulogius


Ma3y 7

Father Eulogius spent sixty-nine years with the Valaam brotherhood,
laboring in all possible obediences and workshops, and was always
simple, diligent and meek He passed quietly through all the stormy
phases of twentieth cen tury Valaam history, always a loving and
understanding man And God rewarded His faithful slave even in this
life—not only with long years (almost a cen tury) but also with the gift
of unceasing prayer He was seen enveloped in divine Uncreated Light, at
times so strong that his fellow monks had to throw a towel over his head
to prevent the blinding of those who were standing close to him Elder
Eulogius was as simple as a child and loved animals, and they in turn
loved him In his youth his left thumb was cut off, and this served him
as a re minder of our earthly imperfection Fr Eulogius was also a
teacher of the Jesus Prayer, which can be seen from his letters  The
Jesus Prayer is the mirror of the heart, it curbs ha tred and anger,
dispels arrogance of the heart and depression It illumines the in
tellect, dispels laziness, makes the heart tender, and brings to it fear
of God and bestows the gift of tears.

Elder Boris


   May 7

The Mother of God guided Elder Boris like a child throughout his whole
life He suffered greatly as a child—he witnessed the near-murder of his
father, was abandoned by his mother into orphanhood and was sorely
mistreated Overcoming demonic attacks, he reached Valaam where the
Mother of God entered his life through a miracle-working icon, "Surety
of Sinners," which he found and kept to his death Attuned to his
conscience, he saw visions of Sts Sergius and Herman and heeded his
inner voice concerning the looming of the new-calendar war and the
revolution, and remained an old calendarist During the last ten years of
his life, his disposition was such that his cell attendant remarked that
he felt like a son embraced by his mother when he would go to Elder
Boris for counsel A mystic full of sobriety and clear thinking, Fr Boris
remained a true Valaam monk, adamant in his stand for the Orthodox
world-view Once Fr Boris was occupied with the Jesus Prayer and lay down
for a rest He was raised to heaven in a dream He said of this,
"Archangel Michael looked at me, and they said to me, 'He calls you.'
They do not speak as we do here, but a glance enters the soul and you
understand everything "

Elder Michael I The Confessor


 May 8

An outstanding monastery spiritual director and a leading father during
the height of Valaams blossoming Elder Michael showed his integrity and
genuineness when trouble struck in the twenties of this century with the
forced instal lanon of the Western secular cal endar into Church life
which had not changed since ancient Byzantine times He became a stalwart
confessor of ecclesiasti cal firmness to the end and died as a hero in
battle after being tormented by years of banish ment exile and mockery
Fr Michael came to Valaam at a young age and his two brothers followed
him one a poet and the other a musician and they became outstanding
monks After visiting the Holy Land Me Athos Optina and other centers of
living Orthodoxy Fr Michael was able to widen his spiritual vision He
became a God bearing elder and enabled his monks to be zealots for Or
thodoxy at a time when apostasy began to encroach upon the Or thodox
Church from within In this sense he became a carrier of the apostolic
gift of Prophecy as is spoken of by St Paul A man ahead of his time he
is a guid ing light for us and for Russia today.

Elder Antipas II 


 April 21

Antipas II was the worthy disciple of Antipas I, the only other Valaam
saint, besides the two founders, whose relics adorn the renewed Valaam
of today. Antipas II was the son of an army officer, and retained his
father's military precision in his monastic asceticism and became
himself a great elder and leader—a "knower of hearts." A librarian by
obedience, Fr. Antipas was a patristically knowledgeable spiritual
instructor to the younger set of ascetics, who had in him an eager
instructor. By nature he was a very private person, sealed with prayer
and divine visions. Only meager glimpses of his life could be had by his
sensitive disciples. He had a very long prayer rule, which he performed
secretly at night while everyone was asleep, reading daily three
akathists in addition to the Psalter and a canon. Among his disciples
was Fr. Juvian, his biographer, who inherited from him his love of
labor. From the very beginning, Valaam followed the monasti-cism of
Egypt's Thebaid, coming not only from the south but also from the north
by way of Celtic missionaries, who were initiated into asceticism by the
same model. Thus Antipas reflected the same Thebaid.

Schema-abbot John 


June 5

An obedient monk of Va-laam, he was sent way up north to the Pechenga
region as an abbot for the St Tryphon Monastery, and twelve years later
returned to become a schema ascetic in Valaam's se-verest Skete, that of
St John the Baptist. He ended his life as the monastery's main father
confes-sor, by that time already in Va-lamo in Finland. Not pretending
to theologize, he pursued above all the virtue of sobriety ("nip-sis")
which he felt Orthodox Christians of todays world are rapidly losing.
With this in mind, he did not hesitate to write letters, which were
published after his death and recently translated into a volume entitled
Christ Is In Our Midst, which now is available in many languages. For
convenience sake he succumbed to the New Calendar, a fact which he
always lamented, but by the time he reposed Valamo had already returned
to the old Church Calendar. He wrote about humility, "0 blessed
humility, 7 hou art divme, tor Thou didst bow the heavens and clothe
Thyself in hunanity and nail the sins of the whole world to the Cross.
My soul trembles, how can I say anything about Thy greatness?''

Blessed Anthony Ivanovich


 June 7

Born in 1757 and having roamed the streets of St Petersburg as a blessed
Fool-fbr-Christ's-sake, Righteous Anthony Ivanovich (Zenoviev) came to
Valaam in 1816, where he perfected the genuineness of his ascetic life
with the gift of clairvoyance and exceeding meekness, enduring severe
suffering before his death He observed the Paisian disciples Cleopas and
Theodore and their disciple Leonid (later of Optina) and especially
liked the young novice Ignatius Brianchaninov The latter's friend there,
novice Michael Chikhachov, followed Ignatius to the St Sergius
Hermitage, and became a saint, now canonized, incorrupt and working
miracles Blessed Anthony was a miracle-wonder himself while physically
in Valaam he appeared miles away to a man who, in despair, attempted
suicide in a canal in St Petersburg He even told the man his name, so
that the saved man could come to Valaam and see him Anthony Ivanovich
foresaw his own death, telling the aforementioned Fr Michael that he
would see him before his repose. The latter arrived at Valaam the day
before the blessed one died.

Elder Cosmos of Riga


June 15

From his childhood Fr Cosmas knew he would be a monk—he had a prophetic
dream in which a voice said, 'You are God's " Fr Cosmas began his
ascetic life in Valaam when that spiritual bastion was at its zenith He
learned there not only humility and its component—wisdom—but also
received the training which enabled him to carry the Valaam spirit for
years afterwards This not only sustained him during the years of godless
turmoil, but also enabled him to inspire others outside of Russia—in
Latvia, where he became a monastic elder in a convent near Riga His
successor was the great modern day elder, Fr Tavion Fr Cosmas became a
disseminator of the genuine monastic Valaam spirit at the time when
Valaam slumbered in the clutches of godless communists He died in the
convent as a clairvoyant elder, having spirituallv nurtured thousands of
pilgrims during the hardest times for Christianity of the 20th century
Many of the sisters of the convent are now heads of major monastic cen
ters, such as St Seraphim's Di-veyevo, Murom, Alexandrov, and others.

Elder Photius


November 21

Father Photius, from the very beginning of his stay in Valaam, was
trained in iconography and he painted frescoes. Being an accomplished
artist, he went into the world on one such mission and while painting
fell from the scaffolding. As a result of this fall he became
color-blind, a condition which brought about his return to normal
monastic life. He came  back a changed man—deeply immersed in prayer and
silence, he attained a high degree of spirituality. When the controversy
over the calendar question occurred, although he sympathized with the
traditional monks, he accepted the position of father confessor for the
sake of peace, remaining in the monastery proper. His disciple Paul saw
him one day surrounded by the light of Mount Tabor. "One late hour I
came to his cell and saw that he had been deep in prayer. There was a
miraculous light glowing in his face. I was permitted to see something I
was not worthy to behold," concluded Paul, subsequently Archbishop Paul
of Finland. Fr. Photius was vouchsafed to repose on the Feast of the
Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple.

Sts. Sergius and Herman Founders ofValaam


June 28

St. Sergius was a missionary from the West, while Herman was a local
pagan priest.

He was converted by St. Sergius, who named him Quartus (Herman in
monasticism) as a successor to a place that was initially sanctified by
the Apostle Andrew himself. They founded the monastery of Valaam and by
960, around the time of their repose, it was flourishing. Their
asceticism and sobriety set the tone in Valaam that carried on for 1000
years. Shining with the qualities of Christ, they laid the foundations
in Valaam for following His commandments. Valaam is the oldest monastery
in Holy Russia. The year 964 was the very year that Mount Athos was
established as a monastic republic. Valaam monks were always first of
all lovers of the desert, such as Schema-monk Alexander (1902), shown on
the left as he walks up the steep, narrow path from the rocky shore to
the cave of St. Alexander of Svir, where the latter lived and sanctified
the "Holy Island." This Elder Alexander, who reposed in 1910, was in the
same spirit as the founders of Valaam, St. Alexander of Svir and others.
They hid from the eyes of the world to such an extent that we know
little about them.

St. Juvenal Protomartyr of America

( 1761-1796)

 December 12 and July 2

A fervent member of the Valaam Mission to America, St Juvenal was
originally a novice of Konevits Monastery and together with his brother
Steven joined the mission They both were ordained in St Petersburg on
the way to Alaska He was filled with apostolic zeal to such an extent
that he himself baptized thousands of natives, instructing them in the
law of God, which the Alaskans readily accepted According to one
tradition, reported to St Innocent Veniaminov, Fr Juvenal was martyred
at Lake Iliamna by natives who considered him to be a deceiver When
attacked, he surrendered himself without any kind of resistance, asking
only that his companions not be harmed The natives related that Juvenal,
after having been killed, rose up and followed after his murderers,
continuing to exhort them with apostolic preaching Only after his body
was hacked into pieces was his voice silenced In the place where his
remains lay, a pillar of smoke immediately appeared, extending from
earth to heaven, and remained for some time St Herman wrote to Abbot
Nazarius, "The hieromonks are truly exceptional Fr Macarius and Fr
Juvenal are always aflame with zeal and anxious to go off in all
directions to preach.

Abbot Arethas


May 15

The famous young Archimandrite of the Siberian monastery of St. Symeon
of Verkhoturye became a monk in Valaam at a very young age. From that
day on he grew steadily into quite an ascetic. Together with Fr. Jonah
and Elder Elias he was sent to Verkhoturye, where he succeeded Jonah as
abbot and buried his elder, Elias. He soon followed his elder into the
other world in a mysterious way. One day he told those around him, "Wait
for the fifteenth of May." When that day arrived he, being only
thirty-eight years old, said to his cell attendant, "Well, my death has
come!" He signed himself with the sign of the Cross, crossed his arms
over his chest, said, "Forgive me!" and died. He had foreseen his death
and was prepared to face his Lord. He spent his Valaam days amidst its
great elders and was vouchsafed to see the ideal of monastic life there:
realistic, unpretentious and inspired men, equal to the ancient models
of monasti-cism. He was canonized several years ago as a locally
venerated Siberian saint in his renewed monastery. Alas, his full
biography does not exist. Righteous offspring of Valaam, holy Abba
Arethas, pray to God for us!

Fr. John "the Muscovite" 


 June 21

As a Moscow businessman in the world, he was miraculously saved from the
abyss of sin and insanity when Sts. Ser-gius and Herman of Valaam
appeared to him in his room in an insane asylum, giving him Holy
Communion, whereby he was healed. Upon his release, he sought everywhere
to learn who his healers were, until he recognized them on the icon of
their reliquary in Valaam. In gratitude he became a monk and then took
upon himself a great exploit—to take up collections to help pay for the
large amount of construction that was needed in Valaam. He traveled
extensively collecting alms with great fervor, and God blessed his work
with numerous miraculous incidents. For his collecting of alms in Moscow
he was called John "the Muscovite." Fr. John belonged to the category of
hesychasts whose prayer did not cease in their hearts, in spite of the
constantly busy atmosphere wherever he traveled. Soon after his tonsure
into the schema he reposed with the prayer on his lips. The portrait on
the left was miraculously saved by an unknown visitor to the monastic
cell on Spruce Island, Alaska, where the Elder's former disciple-novice
lived as a hermit. 

Elder Theodore 1of Svir


April 5

A close disciple of Blessed Paisius Velichkovsky while in Neamets, he
continued his tradition back in Russia in Valaam and in Svir, where
miracles occur at his grave. He inspired worthy followers wherever he
traveled in quest of silence and solitude. His great disciples were Leo
of Optina and Euthymius of Valaam, whose own disciple was the great
Damascene. Constantly persecuted, he was a true saint and an inspiration
for seekers of the monastic life immersed in suffering and silence. Once
he was mystically transported into the other world, from whence he
beheld earthly reality in a different light than that which we see with
our naked eye. When he returned from that transfigured state, he changed
his opinion about people and things and spent the rest of his life
weeping. His biography was written by St. Ignarius Brianchaninov, who
was his disciple and bore the stamp of Paisian fervency. Theodore was
childlike in his mystical apprehension of reality; a certain lyrical
fragrance wafts from his image. In Svir he was surrounded by the filial
love of many monks who bore witness that Fr. Theodore was truly an
angel-like human being.

Schema-abbot Luke


December 2

Hospitality in Valaam was upheld as a great virtue. Usually very
sensitive and strong personalities were chosen for this obedience. At
the turn of the century thousands of pilgrims visited Valaam and all had
to be met with love and a perception of what each individual pilgrim
came for. The monastery had room for a thousand pilgrims. One such host
was Fr. Luke. He labored all his life as guestmaster, full of compassion
and warmth. Once he said, "What wonder! The Lord entrusted the keys to
the Heavenly Kingdom not to the pure Apostle John the Theologian, but to
Peter who denied Him thrice, for he would know the fallen state from
experience and would be kinder to sinners." He was a firm defender of
the Church Calendar. He left for Valamo in Finland during World War II.
Luke was promised that he would be able to return to Old Valaam but he
never saw Valaam again and died in Pskov Caves Monastery in 1965 as a
righteous elder confessor. The monk in whose arms Fr. Luke reposed
testified that Fr. Luke had achieved the blessed state and the Kingdom
of Christ as a result of his conscientious reading of the works of St.
Isaac the Syrian.

Elder John the Blind


 August 7

A peasant youth who came to Abbot Damascene and became an obedient
disciple in the master's hand, practicing absolute devotion, humility
and obedience. But when the time came and the Abbot wanted to have him
ordained, love for the desert spoke in him and he said that he would
rather seek silence than take upon himself the burden of speaking with
people. To that, the clairvoyant Abbot said that he would "lock his
mouth," and not a word was to escape until he himself would "unlock" it.
And the obedient monk did not utter a word for many years. Not long
before his death, Abbot Damascene "unlocked" Fr. John's mouth, but by
now the silent one had achieved spiritual silence in his heart and had
became a true hesychast. While roaming the woods at night in his Skete
of St. John the Baptist, he accidentally poked his already ailing eye on
a branch. Fr. John was always cheerful and did not hesitate, after his
"unlocking," to use the gift of speech to encourage his fellow
strugglers. The photo on the left shows him in his old age, standing
before the humble half-earthen cell ("zemlyanka") of Elder Nicholas I
(+1824), in which the latter once entertained Emperor Alexander I.

St. Cornelius of Palei Island

(mid-14th c.-1428) 

August 21

A true Valaam monk in the spirit of hesychasm, St. Cornelius, having
been formed there in asceticism, left Valaam and went north into the
forested wilds where he lived a life of sobriety as a desert-dweller on
the shore of Palei Lake, away from Valaam, but spiritually beholding its
image as a guiding star and balance When similar seekers of monasticism
joined him, he founded a coenobitic monastery, but he spent the end of
his life in a nearby cave. Christ appeared to him there, filling his
abode with Uncreated Light and blessing him and his monks. St Zosima of
Solovki laid his monastic beginning with St Cornelius' disciple,
Abraham. When St. Herman of Solovki visited Palei Island, he inspired
him to go with him and the latter became Solovki's first abbot. At the
beginning of the nineteenth century Elder Theodore of Svir labored and
suffered in Palei Island Monastery. From there he went to Valaam, and
thence to Svir, to die. The monastic phenomenon of the The-baid of the
North that gave us such a flowering of great mystics is well described
by I. M. Kontzevitch in his Acquisition of the Holy Spirit in Ancient
Russia (St. Herman Press, Platina California, 1988).

St. Adrian of Andrusov


August 26

When St Alexander of Svir left Valaam and went to the Svir region for
solitude, he spontaneously founded a new monastery This came about
through a noble prince, Andrew Zavalishin who, while hunting in the
forest, discovered St Alexander Andrew was so moved by his angelic life
that he became his disciple, and later a monk in Valaam with the name of
Adrian He eventually founded his own monastery, known as Andrusov This
monastery is located on a peninsula in Lake Ladoga and was never rich,
but was made into a flourishing monastery by Abbot Innocent of Valaam
Emperor Alexander I made a pilgrimage to the saint's relics, since he
had a particular interest in poor monasteries The Tsar later donated a
luxurious silver reliquary for the grave of St Adrian, who has worked
many miracles and is especially known as a protector of travelers across
water in inclement weather The Fesenko icon at left depicts St Adrian as
the protector of his monastery, praying to the Lord for his monks His
prayers continue to this day, blessing those monastics who are currently
reviving St Adrian's holy place.

St. Alexander of Svir


August 30

One of the greatest luminaries of the Northern Thebaid, St. Alexander,
from early youth a monk of Valaam, having heard God's call, went inland
and settled in a remote wilderness to live in a cave for the Lord alone.
He moved to the Svir River to live as a recluse. There the Triune God
appeared to him in the form of three angels, as He once appeared to the
Patriarch Abraham, and St. Alexander, with fear and trembling, addressed
them in the singular. Obeying the divine command, St. Alexander built a
monastery, where he brought up a host of holy disciples, many of whom
are great saints of God: Saints Adrian of Andrusov and Macar-ius the
Roman; the Padan Saints Cornelius, Misail, Dionysius, Gennadius and
others. Centuries later there were great luminaries that shone in Svir:
Elder Theodore and Archimandrite Agathangelus, monks of Valaam. After
the revolution his relics were lost and were recently discovered
incorrupt and exuding fragrant, miracle-working myrrh. During his time
at Va-laam he set the tone for desert-loving anchoritism that influenced
hundreds of followers. The icon on the left is said to be based on his

Michael the Silent


September 6 

Silence is an image of the fu-ture age, while words are mere implements
of this world," said the ancient Church Father, St. Isaac the Syrian,
whose mystical book was always of great importance to Valaam monks,
especially after the arrival there of the Paisian students, who settled
in the Skete of All Saints. The ascetic exploit of silence as a means to
obtain nearness to God's perfection always held an immense attraction
for Valaam monks, and many practiced it with the blessing of their
elders. But there was one, who died in the late 1930s, who, once he
stepped on the holy ground, never spoke a word until his death. This was
novice Michael, who came to the monastery when already an adult, to
repent. He was a cook for the workers. He never sat down to eat with the
rest and often was seen weeping. He seemed a total enigma, but served as
an example of how words are useless and silence speaks of the age to
come. The photograph on the left shows him in the workmen's kitchen in
Old Valaam, in the 30s. His silence aroused great interest among the
novices, one of whom preserved this photo and related this account to
the Valaam Society of America.

St. Arsenius of Konevits


 June 12

Originally a monk of Valaam, he undertook a pilgrimage to Mt Athos where
some monks blessed him with a wonderworking icon of the Theotokos Having
returned to Valaam, he founded a monastery on a horse-shaped rock where
the local Karelian pagans had slaughtered horses as sacri fices to their
gods When St Arsenius came to sanctify the place, demons, in the form of
black ravens, fled and the whole island became holy His monas tery
(Konevits) became a missionary center from which, for centuries, the
monastic ideal spread acioss the wateis of Ladoga to the Russian North
The last monks of Konevits saved the renowned miracle- working icon and
fled from the destructive communists with the Valaam monks to the
Finnish Valamo, where no new monks joined them Between the two World
wars the monastery was in freedom-loving Finland, and thus it escaped
the main flow of destruction The buildings are in a relatively good
state today Now, glory be to God, the famous Konevits is being restored
Three Konevirs monks were members of the 1794 Mission to America, among
them a canonized saint, Protomartyr Juvenal.

Abbot Innocent


 September 22

As a companion and helper of Blessed Nazarius in building up that great
Valaam Lavra, Fr. Innocent frequented St Petersburg on business He also
took part in restoring the neighboring Andrusov Monastery, whose holy
founder, St Adrian, saved him from drowning and later appeared from the
other world to remind him of a promise he had to keep, being the virtual
co-abbot of Andrusov Monastery Abbot Innocent, due ro his holy life, was
vouchsafed to see a vision of the Valaam founders, Sts Sergius and
Herman, accompanied by angels, blessing the building of the new
catholi-con After Abbot Nazanus' retirement, Innocent succeeded him and
invited to Valaam the Paisian disciples Theodore and Cleopas, who
returned from Moldavia and settled in the Skere of All Saints, thus
placing Valaam under the direct influence of St Paisius It was hard at
first for Abbot Innocent to comprehend the spiritual freedom these
elders from Moldavia exercised, but it was eventually revealed to him
that love is above the law This misunderstanding caused one monk to
re-examine his concept of monasticism Upon doing so he, Elder Euthemius,
became himself a saint and the father of that father of saints, Abbot

Fr. Gerasim of New Valaam


September 29

Originally a monk of the Opntia tradition of St Tikhon of Kaluga
Monastery, the young Fr Gerasim, after a trip to Mt Athos, wanted to go
to Valaam But a missionary duty to go to America prevented him He was
forced to remain in America due to the raging Russian Revolution, and
eventually settled in New Valaam on Spruce Island in Alaska, where the
basic monastic input had been made by Valaam monk St Herman a hundred
years earlier St Herman had prophesied the arrival of Fr Gerasim, saying
that "a monk like himself" would come and live in his hermitage The love
for traditional monas-ticism had been passed on to him through his Elder
Ioasaph, who laid his own monastic beginning on Valaam This made Fr
Gerasim the right man to install the fullness of Valaam mo-nasticism in
the New World, but difficulties with church politics hindered him
greatly Nevertheless he has an important place in the Valaam Paten-con,
especially because there are sufficient grounds for his canonization He
possessed unquestionable literary talent, as is evident from the
hundreds of pages of his correspondence with contemporary writers.

Hieromonk Euthymius


October 1

Elder Euthymius trained the future Abbot Damascene from novicehood to be
steadfast in his ascetic labors. He would walk to awaken his novice
every night for nocturns, even through the thickest of snow. He began
his own monastic life on Valaam as a devoted disciple of Abbot Nazarius,
but later entered a deep period of almost fatal despondency, until he
was rescued by the counsels of Elders Theodore and Cleopas. Praise of
them and their counsel of humility, simplicity, and self-abasement
rarely ceased from his lips, and he entered his spiritual path of much
silence—giving up his priesthood. This act of humility was not easily
understood, but the purity of heart that it bore soon cleared all doubt.
When his life ended, he appeared from the other world on the very same
day, as he had promised, to confirm his state of blessedness. The vivid
sanctity of humble Blessed Euthymius is an eloquent statement for his
glorification. The rare engraving on the left is taken from Fr. Juvian's
work, "Desert Dwelling on Valaam." Although written in 1921, it was
never published in its entirety until 1994, by the Valaam Society of
America ("Russian Pilgrim" ,N° 10).

Elder Leonid of Optina


 October 11

Elder Leonid began the long line of eldership in Optina Monastery. He
lived on Valaam and later in Svir, learning from his elder Theodore, the
Paisian disciple, the joy of obedience and self-accusing humility based
on patristic wisdom. Christ endowed him with humor, simplicity and
boundless love, which brought flocks of spiritual children to him, to
open their hearts and gain real help on the path to salvation. Because
of the westernization of the 18th century, strict adherence to the
ancient ways was regarded with suspicion. He was persecuted for
following the Paisian model, but overcame all difficulties and became a
spiritual leader, influencing pre-revolutionary Russia for over a
century. Recently canonized as a saint, he is now regarded as a
modern-day Church Father, together with the lineage of holy Optina
Elders that followed him. The editor of the second edition of the
Elder's biography, a convert from Lutheranism, Fr. Clement Sederholm,
included the letters of Fr. Leonid, which in their tenor are equal to
the classics of patristic literature, and undoubtedly contribute a
future volume of the Little Russian Philokalia.

Abbots Sergius & Herman of Siberian New Valaam


 June 11 and October 21

St. Innocent of Alaska, when naming the city of Blagoveshchensk, also
initiated a missionary monastery in Siberia modelled after Valaam. A few
years later the time was ripe and Valaam sent two monk-missionaries to
bring St. Innocent's vision into realization. And it worked wonders:
within a few years, from 1897 up to the revolution, there flourished a
true coenobium, under the direction of its abbot, Sergius, and his
"first mate," Herman, who were well-trained in Valaam for this holy
task. It was almost a replica of Valaam, even containing a printshop for
the dissemi-narion of spiritually nourishing literature. Of course, it
all collapsed with the onslaught of the godless power, and was covered
with martyric blood. Both fathers ended their lives, after exile and
suffering, as New Martyrs. But now their prayers are working
wonders—Siberian Valaam is again a monastery. It was not accidental that
these two founders of the second New Valaam (the first being St.
Herman's in Alaska) carried the grace of the original Valaam founders.
There was even an Athonite contribution by the monk Alexis, who
triggered the inception of a Siberian Athonite Lavra.

Juvian the Chronicler


 November 13

The chronicler and librarian of Valaam, humble monk Juvian was at heart
a lover of desert-dwelling, and made a survey of desert-dwellers at
Va-laam from the monastery's inception, discovering ancient sites where
hermits once dwelt. A staunch defender of the Church Calendar, he also
was banished and persecuted for this by the uncanonical reformers in
Orthodox garb, as he called the militant usurpers ofValaam tradition,
which today is almost lost. A man of great kindness, he was close to a
young pilgrim lad and wrote letters to him; years later this lad became
Patriarch Alexis II of Russia. Monk Juvian, in his humility, foresaw the
importance of pouring a constant stream of Valaam input into the young
lad at the time of the severe soviet persecution of monasticism, when
even Valaam no longer existed. His writings are voluminous. He wrote on
St. John of Kronstadt, World War I, the New Martyrs of Russia, the
calendar question, animals, etc., and especially a biography of his own
Elder, Antipas II. The tone of his life was that of a truthful man, calm
within and extremely balanced, who with a diagnosti-cal precision was
able to assess right from wrong.

Schema-monk Anikita


 November 3

The highest virtue sought by Valaam monks was humility of wisdom, called
in Valaam "simplicity." Such was the meek caretaker of the monastery
bath-houses, who was later placed in charge of watching the lighthouse
on St. Nicholas Skete, where he carefully concealed his achievement of
prayer of the heart. As his brethren, after a long day's toil, were
resting, and the whole world was submerged in deep slumber, Fr. Anikita
would keep his hesychastic night watch, blessing the rising and setting
of the sun. Externally there was nothing "outstanding" about this
schema-monk. But the cross this confessor of the Church Calendar bore
made him a great flower in the spiritual meadow of Valaam. Together with
other monks he moved to New Valamo in Finland, where he was forced to
endure much in adjusting to the unmonastic lifestyle of the new church
administration. But this caring visionary remained as a spiritual
beacon, watching over those who care for the "House of the Lord." There
exists a beautiful photograph of Elder Anikita reflecting on the
vast-ness of Ladoga. It was an inspiration for a famous painting by

Elder Hilarion of Sarov


 November 12

A close disciple of Elder Naz-arius and his belovedcell-attendant during
Naz-arius' stay as a recluse in the wilderness of Valaam, Fr. Hilarion
accompanied him also to Sarov Monastery, where he was to defend St.
Seraphim's orphans to such an extent that he was even banished for
several years from Sarov. St. Seraphim had all the nuns of his Diveyevo
Convent tonsured only by Fr. Hilarion, who was also to lay the beginning
of St. Seraphim's glorification, finding his own final resting place
near those of St. Seraphim and his beloved Abbot Nazarius. Elder
Hilarion was a writer and left a brief "Ladder of Divine Ascent" which
was published together with the Counsels of Abbot Nazarius. Since the
latter did not know how to write, Fr. Hilarion took down Nazarius'
teachings. The engraving on the left is taken from the Sarov Patericon
which, although regrettably brief, nevertheless shows clearly that the
Paisian influence upon Russia did not fall on barren ground. There were
deep spiritual currents that consciously preserved me national holiness
of St. Tikhon of Zadonsk and the elders of the Roslavl and Sarov forests
and welcomed the Athonice spirit which came from Moldavia.

St. Herman of Alaska


 November 15

A monastic since age twelve in the wilderness of Sarov, he became close
to Abbot Nazarius and followed him to Valaam, where he lived as a
desert-dweller. He was sent with the Mission to America and, as a true
disciple of Blessed Paisius Velichkovsky, practiced and spread the
Paisian tradition in America. He even reposed on the same date as St.
Paisius, November 15, and was buried a month later, on December 13,
remaining incorrupt the while, as his young Aleut disciples testified.
St. Herman combined apostleship and desert-dwelling, as well as a loving
care for orphans and young people, thus becoming their patron as the
first Orthodox saint of America. He taught the Jesus Prayer from his
copy of the Philokalia in America, where he founded a New Valaam
Monastery on Spruce Island, Alaska, where the monastic lamp is still
burning. His repose in the Lord was that of a saint: he foresaw its day
and time, and at the moment of his death a halo of Uncreated Light
played about his head. The humble cell became filled with divine
fragrance and, as the Scripture was read, his soul left his body. At
this moment a pillar of light was seen by natives at a distance.

Monk-Soldier Roman


 October 2

At the age of seventeen Fr. Roman left the world of life without God and
joined the first mission to reopen Valaam after it had been desecrated
and secularized for fifty years. In his youthful zeal he heeded the call
to martyrdom four years later. He was an idealist and a romantic
poet—known for his frequent departure from this world into prayer, even
to the sometimes humorous oblivi-ousness of his monastic obediences. He
was zealous in his labor for God and his salvation, striving to help his
superiors as much as he could. His spirit was joyful and light, but his
deep and sober soul heard a call when the Orthodox Serbians were being
cruelly and lawlessly killed by the Bosnian Moslems and the Catholic
Croarians. He entered the front lines and was martyred in 1994, thereby
joining the saints of Valaam in heaven. There were quite a few monk
saints who, when need arose, would exchange their monastic garb for that
of a warrior to save Holy Russia from the onslaught of apostates or
pagans. These Christ-loving warriors considered it their duty to follow
in the steps of the disciples of St. Sergius of Radonezh, who went to
the Kulikovo battlefield and saved Russia.

Elder Ellas


December 8

A Valaam ascetic, who for years labored as an anchorite in the most
distant Skete of Prophet Elias, and was even named after its patron.
Later, when the St. Symeon of Verkhoturye Monastery was established, an
outstanding Va-laam monk, Job, was sent to be the abbot. He needed an
experienced elder, and so Fr. Elias was sent, and he at once renewed the
monastery. In his Valaam seclusion, Fr. Elias read the Philokalia and
kept a journal which was filled with untold treasures—unfortunately lost
now forever. During his 31 years on Valaam, he accumulated many
disciples. He would teach them thus: "Let no one say that now there is
no grace of God, that it was only in the past. No! Now also grace is
available as before and moves with great power with Godly people, with
the saints." Living in the Siberian monastery, he in time settled deep
in the dense forest with another anchorite nearby. He died peacefully
when he had attained the age of 70 years, 38 of which were spent as a
monk. This rare photo of the Elder shows him working in the garden in
the St. John the Forerunner Skete. It is the only picture of him in
existence taken while he was still alive.

Abbot Gabriel


 December 7

When he was 18 years old [his future Abbot ofVa-laam came to Abbot
Damascene, who sternly said that "if one comes to a monastery and says
he wants to be a monk, that means serious business—there should be no
change until death!" And the youth made a vow right then, which he kept
for the rest of his life. At a relatively young age he lived in the
severesr Skete of St. John the Baptist, with the great ascetic and
hermit, John the Blind. This experience later enabled him to promote
an-choretism. Eventually he became abbot of Valaam. After 37 years
there, he was transferred to the beautiful Alatyr Monastery along the
Volga River, that was in need of restoration. Having done much for its
betterment, he died a sudden but peaceful death seven years after he
left Valaam. In the photograph on the left he is shown with (from left 
to    right): schema-monks Alexander, Alexis, Sergius and John the Blind
at the grave of the great Elder Nicholas I. The latter once entertained
Tsar Alexander I, who came to Valaam in 1819 seeking spiritual
consolation for his sorrowing soul, for he had consented to the murder
of his father, Emperor Paul I. The clairvoyant elder consoled the Tsar.
He reposed in 1824.

Joel the Gardener


December 13

A gardener by obedience, Hieromonk Joel was of a very friendly
disposition and a kind monk who tended his or-chard as if it were the
garden of Eden, working it with prayer and trepidation. His elder was
Schema-abbot Theodore, who lived in the desert. After his death Fr. Joel
settled in his cell and lived there for several years. One night his
elder appeared to him and said lovingly, "Go away from here, to the
monastery"—and two days later he left, only for the other world. His
elder called him to the heavenly "garden of Eden" and Fr. Joel was found
dead. He was walking in his cell with a box of matches in his hand and
suddenly died. Few people acquire such a righteous repose, for which Fr.
Joel was ready. This was also very typical of the love Valaam monks had
for one another—a love which ex-tended even to the other world. It is
considered God's favor when a monk dies on his obedience. An example
would be a baker who dies with dough on his hands, as did St. Nicodemus
the prosphora baker of the Kiev Caves. He was laid in his coffin without
being washed, as a proof of his total obedience, for which he will be
rewarded by God.

Elder Ephraim


March 13

 Fr. Ephraim. ran away from home at the age of twelve and settled in the
Monastery's school for orphaned boys. After becoming a novice he was
sent to a newly organized mission to Abyssinia. He soon returned to
Valaam, only to be sent out again, after ordination, as a military
chaplain in the service of a grand-duke. But, as the revolution raged,
he was able to escape from St. Petersburg and return to Valaam. In 1919
he became a schema-monk and lived as a desert-dweller in the Skete of
the Smolensk Icon of the Theotokos. He performed the full daily cycle of
services in a church built for him by the grand-duke. He slept in a
coffin. When the calendar controversy arose in Valaam he reluctantly
agreed to be the main spiritual advisor with Abbot Chariton's
administration. He was the spiritual father of the former
Lady-in-Waiting of Empress Alexandra, Anna Vy-rubova, who was then a
nun. In his younger days he was a close friend of Elder-confessor
Michael I and was renowned as a promoter of the perpetual cycle of
divine services. He left Valaam in the winter of 1939-40 with the rest
of the monks and died shortly after the war, when Valaam returned once
again to the Church calendar.

Abbot Agathangelus


 December 27

A close disciple of Abbot Damascene from his youth and a fellow novice
with the future great hesychast of Valaam, Fr. Agapit, the zealous
Agathangelus, was also destined to revive the great Lavra of St
Alexander of Svir in the vicinity of Valaam His correspondence with Fr
Agapit shows that the mighty re-builder of Svir, who had an excellent
administrative mind, was also a deeply patristic strug-gler in the
ascetic realm As a pastor of his monastic flock, Agathangelus was also
remarkable, at times very warm and hu man, so rare nowadays when huge
obstacles could be avoided through a little bit of humility of wisdom on
behalf of the leaders Fr Agapit's correspondence with St Theophan the
Recluse was also shared with his friend Agathangelus While on Valaam,
being full of ascetic zeal, the young Agathangelus spent some time alone
in one of the sketes where previously great elders had battled evil He
was tormented the whole night with anxiety until he realized the evil
nature of that phenomenon and used that experience later when he was an
"abba," giving counsel to inexperienced ascetics in order to bring about
nobility of spirit.


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