January 8, 2019

Saint Gregory the Wonderworker of the Kiev Caves Lavra (+ 1093)

St. Gregory the Wonderworker of the Kiev Caves (Feast Day - January 8)

Venerable Gregory was tonsured at the Kiev Caves Lavra in the time of Saint Theodosius (May 3). Due to diligence in prayer, he was early granted the gift of wonderworking and the victory over demons. He devoted much time to reading books, which were his sole possession. He had the ability to bring thieves to their senses. Several times robbers broke in on him in his cell or in the garden, but the Saint reasoned with them, the thieves repented, and began to lead honest lives. Others were caught and imprisoned, but the monk gave part of his books to the city ruler in order to rescue from prison the thieves who attacked him. He sold his remaining manuscripts, not wanting to tempt potential robbers, and distributed the proceeds to the poor.

Once, when the monk went to the Dnieper River for water, some servants of Prince Rostislav caught sight of the Elder and rudely began making fun of him. The Saint answered them, “Children, when you should be asking for everyone’s prayers, you are displeasing God. Weep, for disaster approaches. Repent and ask God to be merciful to you on the Day of Judgment. All you will find death in the water with your prince.” By orders of the enraged Prince Rostislav, the monk was bound hand and foot, and he was drowned in the Dnieper with a stone around his neck on May 25, 1093. Still, his prediction came true. Rostislav did not return from the campaign. The next day, May 26, 1093, the twenty-year-old prince drowned in the sight of his brother, Vladimir Monomakh, trying to save himself as he fled from the Polovetsians.

The brothers of the Kiev Caves Lavra for two days searched unsuccessfully for Gregory. On the third day, the body of the monk was found in his cell with his hands and legs tied, with a stone around his neck, and in wet clothes with a radiant face. Several sources identify this Saint Gregory with another Saint Gregory, a composer of Canons in honor of the holy Prince Vladimir, Saint Theodosius, and the holy Martyrs Boris and Gleb. But Saint Gregory, compiler of canons, lived later and died in about the year 1120. Saint Gregory the Wonderworker died in 1093 and was buried in the Near Caves, where his relic lies incorrupt till today. Their examination by scientists showed that Gregory died at the age of 50-60, and he had several broken ribs.