November 14, 2018

Saint Philip, Founder of Irap Monastery in Novgorod (+ 1537)

St. Philip of Irap (Feast Day - November 14)

Our Venerable Father Philip was a peasant by birth and baptized with the name Theophilus. Orphaned of his parents at a young age, he had to flee his homeland due to famine, and lived off the generous alms of the faithful. He finally came to settle at Korniliev Monastery with a man named Basil. Thus Elder Cornelius took the child in when he was twelve years old, and after only three years he was tonsured with the name Philip.

The upbringing of the young monk was entrusted to a monk named Flavian, who taught him to read the Holy Scriptures. His obedience was in the church and in the kitchen, and at night he devoted himself to prayer. After some time, with the request of the brethren, being meek, humble and hard-working, Elder Cornelius ordained him to the holy priesthood.

Being distinguished for his virtue, Father Philip decided to leave the monastery with the blessing of the Elder, and went to a solitary place to devote his time to prayer. On the way, he spent the night in the Spassky Monastery on Lake Kubensky, where he met Monk Herman, his future biographer. After this he withdrew to the outskirts of White Lake, to which he came on May 8, 1517.

Here, having the patronage of Prince Andrew Sheleshpansky, who had allotted him land near the River Irapa, 45 versts from Cherepovets, the monk built a chapel in the name of the Most Holy Trinity and a cell for himself. News about the holy wilderness-dweller spread throughout all the surrounding area, and monks began to flock to him. The laity also went to him for spiritual counsel, and Saint Philip would instruct them in the virtues which those living in the world ought to possess.

Soon at the place of the chapel a larger church was built and Irap Monastery was established. His friend the Monk Herman also came to dwell with him there. Saint Philip dwelt in the wilderness for fifteen years and died on November 14 in 1537, the feast of his patron the Apostle Philip, at age forty-five. His relics were placed beneath a crypt in the Church of the Holy Trinity. Over his grave was an icon, painted by the monk Theodosius. Soon after the death of Saint Philip, the Krasnoborsk Philippov Monastery arose on the place of his struggles.

The celebration of Saint Philip was established at the end of the sixteenth century. The manuscript service to him dates from the end of the sixteenth century.