Saturday, July 24, 2010

Saint Polycarp of the Kiev Caves Lavra


By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

Polycarp possessed "love toward God and his fellow men, joy because of an untainted conscience, peace because of victory over all passions, patience in time of temptation and misfortune, goodness in submission toward all, benevolence toward the poor, undoubting faith in fulfilling the commandments, truth in fulfilling his vows, meekness in not knowing anger, restraint and so forth." So well did he govern the Lavra of the Caves in Kiev that, after his death, a worthy successor among the monks could not be found (for those who were worthy did not want to accept the rank of abbot out of humility), so that the brethren were compelled to take Basil, a secular priest, as their abbot. St. Polycarp reposed in the Lord in the year 1182 A.D.

The Faith of Christ mostly sanctifies and illumines the souls of men when the preachers of the Faith shine in their own lives. Blessed Polycarp, the abbot of the Monastery of the Caves in Kiev, was so completely illumined with the Faith of Christ, both in words and in deeds and in his entire being. Because of this, he had an unusual influence not only on ordinary people but also on princes and noblemen. Listening and seeing this godly man the Prince of Kiev, Rostislav Mstislavitch, became so illumined with the Faith of Christ and thus became so subdued and gentle, that he became a model of life in his immediate surroundings and to his entire people. During the Great Lenten Fast Season, Prince Rostislav received Holy Communion every Sunday and, in all places, sought out those who were in need and those less fortunate and helped them. In the end, he resolved to embrace the monastic order and spoke to Saint Polycarp about this: "Holy father, princely rule in this world cannot be without sin and it has already embittered me and has rendered me incapable." Polycarp answered him: "If you desire this monastic state from your heart, then let it be God's will." Once while in Smolensk, the prince became ill and close to death and ordered that he be quickly taken to Kiev, so that before his death he may receive the monastic tonsure. However he died before his wish was fulfilled.



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