July 3, 2018

Saint Nicodemus of Kozhe Lake (+ 1640)

St. Nikodim of Kozhe Lake (Feast Day - July 3)

Saint Nicodemus (Nikodim) of Kozhe Lake was born in the village of Ivankovo near Rostov into a peasant family, and he was baptized with the name Nikita. When he was still a young man working with his father in the fields, he heard someone call, “Nicodemus! Nicodemus!” indicating his future monastic state.

After the death of his parents he learned the trade of blacksmith in Yaroslavl and then went to Moscow. One time, going past Kulishka, Nikita stopped at the hut of the holy fool Elias, who upon seeing him cried out: “the Khozyuga ascetic has arrived.” These words made a strong impression upon Nikita, and he perceived them as a call to the monastic life.

After giving away everything he owned, he went to Archimandrite Paphnutius of the Chudov (Miracle of the Archangel Michael) Monastery, asking to be accepted as one of the brethren.

In this monastery he was tonsured with the name Nicodemus. For eleven years Saint Nicodemus was an example to the brethren in humility, obedience, non-covetousness and brotherly love. In 1602 the abbot of the monastery, Paphnutius, was made Metropolitan of Sarsk, and he took Nicodemus with him. But the Saint wanted a solitary and ascetic life. A year afterwards, with the Metropolitan’s blessing, he traveled to the north and at first entered the cenobitic Kozhe Lake monastery, in which he spent a year and a half.

His desire for solitude led him to the Rivulet Khuzyuga, five versts from the Kozhe Lake (Kozhaezersk) Monastery. There in a forest thicket he built a small cell and lived in it without emerging for thirty-five years, in imitation of Saint Paul of Thebes.

Saint Nicodemus fulfilled his rule of prayer for the world in total quiet, far from the world. He shared with the brethren of the monastery the fruits of his labor, also the fish which he loved to catch. Wild deer walked around his hermitage without fear. Saint Nicodemus spent the night in prayer, and only occasionally did he permit himself to sleep while sitting up.

Through his austere efforts he attained a high degree of spiritual perfection, acquiring the gift of tears and of unceasing prayer. God also granted him clairvoyance and the power to heal the sick.

Once two radiant men appeared to Saint Nicodemus: Saint Alexis, Metropolitan of Moscow (Feb. 12), and Saint Dionysius, Archimandrite of the Holy Trinity Sergiev Lavra (May 12), in monastic garb. They told him that he would depart to the Lord in forty days, on July 3, 1640.

The relics of Saint Nicodemus rest beneath a crypt in the Theophany Church of the Kozhe Lake Monastery. The Life of the Saint was written by his disciple, the hieromonk James.