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February 9, 2018

Saints Gennadius and Nicephorus of Vazhe Lake in Vologda

Sts. Gennadius and Nicephorus of Vologda (Feast Day - February 9)

Both Saints Gennadius and Nicephorus were disciples of Saint Alexander of Svir (Apr. 17).

Saint Gennadius of Vazhe Lake (Vazheozersk) was the son of rich parents but, giving away everything, he became a disciple of Saint Alexander of Svir and lived with him in asceticism as a hermit by the river Svira. Afterwards, with the blessing of Saint Alexander, he went to Vazhe Lake, twelve versts from the Svir Monastery. And here, having built a cell, he spent his solitary ascetic life with two of his disciples.

Before his death, Saint Gennadius told his disciple, “Here at this place shall be a church and a monastery.” The holy ascetic reposed on January 8, 1516.

Saint Nicephorus of Vazhe Lake came to Saint Alexander of Svir in the year 1510 and was warmly received by him. In 1518 he made a visit, with the blessing of his mentor, to Saint Cyril of New Lake (Feb. 4). When Nicephorus approached New Lake, he was fatigued by his long journey and lay down in the darkness and fell asleep.

Saint Cyril hastened by boat to row across the lake and awoke him. Saint Nicephorus spent eight days in spiritual conversation with the saint. Nicephorus then journeyed to Kiev to venerate the relics of the saints of the Kiev Caves.

Before his departure for Kiev, Nicephorus said to Saint Alexander: "Father, I am going to the Kiev Caves Monastery of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Venerable Fathers Anthony and Theodosius. Pray to God for me, so that, for the sake of your holy prayers, I can safely make my way."

Alexander was saddened, for he did not want to be separated from his virtuous spiritual child, and began to entreat Nicephorus that he stay with him in the monastery until God parted them. But the Nicephorus did not bow to his entreaty, and, only comforting the holy elder, told him that though they would be apart physically, they were inseparable in spirit. With tears, the venerable elders parted.

Upon his return, and with the blessing of Saint Alexander, he settled at Vazhe Lake, where Saint Gennadius pursued asceticism. Saint Nicephorus built the Church of the Transfiguration and a monastery, where he lived until his own death on February 9, 1557.

At the beginning of the seventeenth century the Olonets region was devastated by foreigners wandering about everywhere. The monastery founded by Gennadius and Nicephorus was also plundered, the monks were driven away, and the property was destroyed and taken away. But the memory of Gennadius and Nicephorus did not disappear. When the danger was over, the chapel was restored over the common grave of the Saints, and then the abode was gradually restored.

In 1846 the monastery received an independent existence, and in 1854 it was given permission over the relics of the Saints to build a church on the site of an ancient wooden chapel. This church, with the blessing of the Most Holy Synod and Archbishop Arcadius of Olonets, was consecrated on August 8, 1858 in the name of All Saints, in which the grateful memory of the native people revered the Venerables Gennadius and Nicephorus. The relics of the Saints were put to rest in a hidden place in the monastery they founded.

With the advent of Soviet power, the monastic life in the monastery was interrupted. The monastery was closed in 1923, and within its walls were located a colony for minors, and a psychiatric hospital. The churches were defiled: in the Preobrazhensky a gym was arranged, in Vsekhsvyatsky - first a canteen, then a club.

The revival of the monastery began in 1991, when the legal status was restored to the monastery. And they made the monastery female. The first Divine Liturgy was served on August 1, 1992 in the walls of the disfigured Preobrazhensky church. In 2000, the monastery began to be called the Transfiguration Monastery. Until April 2001, the monastery was female. During this time, the refectory, the bakery and the workshop were also restored. Since April 2001, the monastery has again become male.