December 9, 2010

Monk Sergius - Who Walked From Siberia to Mount Athos

Fourteen years ago, at the age of 15, Sergius Alexeevich embarked on a seven and a half month journey on foot from Siberia to the Garden of the Panagia on Mount Athos.

He set out from Tobolsk in western Siberia and walked to Yekaterinburg, Rostov, Don and finally arrived in Ukraine. In Ukraine he went from Donetsk to Kherson where he nearly drowned in the Dnieper River had not fishermen rescued him. From Bessarabia he entered Romania where it took him 45-minutes to swim across the Danube. Via Bulgaria he entered Greece where he finally arrived at the Holy Mountain.

Today Sergius is a very poor monk who is 29 and lives in the harsh desert of Karoulia as an ascetic under Abba Pambo. Karoulia is very difficult to access and often requires one of the fathers to drop a ladder for you to reach them. He had decided to become a monk when he was left an orphan at the age of 12. Both of his parents were surgeons and were killed in Chechnya. Together with his brother and sister he went to live with another family who were also surgeons yet escaped Chechnya.

When asked about how he received his education, he answers: "If I knew as much as you knew and didn't know how to save my soul, of what use would it be to me? I studied a few months at Athoniada and realized that wherever is the wisdom of God, worldly education is unnecessary. You can love God, but you can't think about Him."

Sergius is a fast walker. When someone accompanying him asked him to slow down, he responded that he can't slow down, because he is always thinking of hell, death, judgment, Paradise and the resurrection. When he thinks like this he says he cannot slow down.