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September 12, 2018

Saint Bassian of Tiksnensky in Vologda (+ 1624)

St. Bassian of Tiksnensky (Feast Day - September 12)

Venerable Bassian of Tiksnensky (or Totemsky) was born with the name Basil, and was a peasant from the village of Strelitsa (by other accounts, from the village of Burtsevo), near the city of Totma. Married with two children, he was by trade a tailor. Leaving his family, he became a monk under Elder Therapon in the Spaso-Sumorinsky Monastery at the River Sukhona, founded by Saint Theodosius of Totemsky, where he spent several years in asceticism and obedience. At first they were hesitant in accepting him as a monk, since he had abandoned his family, but they eventually admitted him and he took the name Bassian at tonsure.

In 1594, the monk, with the blessing of the abbot, left the monastery and resettled with an icon of the Holy Trinity not far from Totma, at the River Tiksna, near a church named for Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker. At first he lived at the church portico, but then he made himself a cell near the church. The monk attended each divine service. For thirty years he wore chains on his body with the blessing of his spiritual father Elder Therapon: on his shoulders a heavy chain, on his loins an iron belt, and on his head beneath his head covering an iron cap.

Yearning for solitude, the monk admitted no one into his cell, except his spiritual father. He lived by the alms which they put by his small window. Saint Bassian died on September 12, 1624. Only at burial was it discovered how much he had humbled his flesh.

At the place of Saint Bassian’s ascetic struggles a monastery was established in honor of the Icon of the Savior Not-Made-by-Hands. Veneration of Saint Bassian began in the year 1647, when during a deadly plague that killed many people and animals, many received healing at his tomb. The plague especially raged in Tiksna. On the orders of Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich, the entire area of Tyksnensky being littered with forests, on all the roads he put a guard who did not miss any passers-by, nor allowed sailing along the river. But Moscow merchants who traveled this way to Arkhangelsk suffered heavy losses from this prohibition. Therefore, they asked the emperor to remove the guards. Then, at the order of the Tsar, John Akingerov, a nobleman, was sent to Tiksna to investigate the case. Arriving in Tiksna and having served a moleben in the Church of the Savior, Akingerov went into the chapel, built over the grave of Bassian in honor of Saint Nicholas the Great. Seeing the chains of Bassian, he was amazed at the height of his exploits. Immediately he ordered all the residents of the Tiksnensky area to gather for a prayer. When everyone gathered and served a moleben, nine people died suddenly from ulcers. The people became terrified. Akingerov, the priest and all the peasants in trepidation fell before the tomb of Saint Bassian and with tears prayed to him: "Our Father Bassian, save us from this deadly and pernicious plague!" And after the prayer service the plague stopped immediately.

The Life of the Saint was written in the year 1745 by the abbot Joseph.