January 11, 2016

Saint Michael of Klopsk, the Fool for Christ

St. Michael of Klopsk (Feast Day - January 11)

On the feast of the Nativity of Saint John the Forerunner in the year 1412, the monks of the Monastery of Klopsk near Novgorod noticed an unknown monk in the church, who was reading the book of Acts and the Epistles by the light of the candle. After the service, they found him shut in a cell engaged in writing. As he would not respond to their demands that he open the door, they broke it down; but, when they were face to face with the unknown monk, all he would do was repeat the questions put to him. The Abbot, who was endowed with spiritual discernment, realized that the stranger was feigning madness in order to conceal his virtue, and ordered that he should be given a cell. He lived in that cell all his life in austere ascesis and absolute obedience, without ever revealing his name or origin. He would often sleep in the fields or on a dung heap. On Sundays, he would take a little bread and water, but for the rest of the week he kept a complete fast.

In 1419, Prince Constantine Dimitrievich, the brother of Basil I, the Grand Prince of Moscow, came to the Monastery for the feast of the Transfiguration. During the meal, the monk was assigned to read the Lives of the Saints. As soon as he heard his voice, the Prince recognized him as Michael, the son of his cousin Maxim, who had disappeared without trace some years earlier. Hearing the reading, the prince approached the reader and looked him over. Then he bowed down to him, calling his kinsman Michael Maximovich by name. The fool remarked, “Only the Creator knows me, and who I am,” but he confirmed that his name was Michael. Some time later, Prince Constantine was dismissed from court by the Grand Prince and came in distress to the Monastery to take counsel of his kinsman. Michael said nothing except to advise him to have a stone church built at the center of the Monastery. The Prince did so, and on the very day the church was dedicated, the Grand Prince recalled him to court and restored him to favor. Constantine later became a monk.

One day in Novgorod, Saint Michael met a young boy in the street, and he predicted that he would become Archbishop under the name of Jonah (Nov. 5). He also predicted the death of Prince Shemyaka and of Archbishop Euthymios, and he foretold, long beforehand, that Novgorod would lose its independence.

He denounced the vices of people, not fearing the powerful of this world. He predicted the birth of Great Prince Ivan III on January 22, 1440, and his capture of Novgorod. He denounced Prince Demetrius Shemyaka for blinding his brother the Great Prince Basil the Dark (1425-1462).

On a sandy spot Saint Michael summoned forth a spring of water, having written upon the earth: “I will take the cup of salvation, let the well-spring show forth on this spot.” And during a time of famine, the supplies of bread at the Monastery granary did not diminish, though they distributed grain abundantly to the hungry.

He reposed in peace in 1456.

Apolytikion in Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Thou wast foolish on earth for the sake of Christ and didst hate the beauty of this world wholeheartedly. By thirsting and fasting and by lying on the earth thou didst wither the flesh and the play of the passions. Thou didst never shun heat, frost, rain nor snow, nor other hardships of climate and weather. Like gold in the crucible thou didst purify thy soul, O holy and Godbearing Father Michael. Thou dost now stand in heaven before the throne of the Trinity. Boldly pray to Christ our God that our souls may be saved.

Kontakion in Plagal of the Fourth Tone
In the power of the Holy Spirit thou wast like the ancient Prophets: for thou didst utter unknown secrets that would come to pass in the year of God's judgments. Thou hast wrought miracles in Christ and astonished the people. Thou hast granted victory to those who cry: Glory to God Who glorifies His Saints.