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December 2, 2009

Elder Cleopa Ilie (1912 - 1998)


Archimandrite Cleopa Ilie (1912 - 1998) resided in Sihastria Monastery, Neamt County, Romania.

Fr. Cleopa has found his place in history as the most representative elder and spiritual father of contemporary Romanian Orthodox spirituality. The last twenty years of his life the Elder spent in increased and concentrated prayer: fourteen to fifteen hours a day. He had moments when he did not want to speak to anyone, not even his cell attendant. From four until eight the Elder prayed his morning rule; afterward he confessed monks and lay people until about four in the afternoon, when he began his evening prayer rule, consisting of the Canon of Repentance, Canons to the Theotokos, the Supplicatory Canon, Small Compline and other services.

Fr. Cleopa once recalled his nostalgic beginnings: "In the years that I was shepherd of the skete’s sheep together with my brothers, I had great spiritual joy. The sheepfold, the sheep - I lived in quiet and solitude on the mountain, in the midst of nature; it was my monastic and theological school." 
 
In the last months of his life, the Elder could be heard saying often: "Now I am going to my brothers!" and "Leave me to depart to my brothers!" and "I am going to Christ! Pray for me, the sinner."

On the eve of the Elder’s departure for the next life he began to read his morning prayer rule, when his disciple said to him: "Geronda, it is evening now. These prayers should be read tomorrow morning." The Elder answered him saying, "I am reading them now because tomorrow morning I am going to my brothers." On the morning of December 2nd, 1998, at about 2:20 a.m. Elder Cleopa departed for eternity and for His Christ.