Thursday, January 10, 2019

The Relics of Saint Theophan the Recluse


Saint Theophan the Recluse (1815–1894) is one of the most influential Russian spiritual writers of the nineteenth century. He had a profound influence on the spiritual rebirth of the whole Russian society. Showing himself to be a zealous servant in all spheres of ecclesiastical life, in 1866, after twenty-five years of service to the Church in various fields, he was at his own request released from his bishopric in the Vladimir diocese and retired to the Holy Dormition Vysha Hermitage in the Tambov diocese as its abbot, where after six years he made a firm decision to leave the world and go into reclusion, which he remained in for the last twenty-two years of his life. In a very short period of time he became famous to all the faithful of Russia, thanks to his numerous articles, books, letters, and sermons, which won the hearts of the Russian Orthodox people. Many wrote to him, and he wrote every day around forty letters in answer.

Saint Theophan the Recluse died on January 6, 1894 and lay in state for three days in his church at Vysha Monastery. Even after that length of time there was no sign of decay in his unembalmed body. He was then buried in the Kazan Cathedral of the Vysha Monastery.

After the revolution of 1917, a kindergarten was placed on the premises of the monastery, followed by a pig farm and Shatzk psychiatric hospital. The churches and monastery buildings of the Vysha Monastery came to desolation. In the Kazan Cathedral, where Bishop Theophan was buried, was the warehouse of the psychiatric hospital.

In 1973, it was decided to save the relics from desecration. Several priests, dismantling the crypt in the Kazan Cathedral, found the broken coffin and the remains of the Bishop. They were thus secretly exhumed, and immediately taken to the Holy Trinity-Saint Sergius Lavra. There they were interred in the basement of the Dormition Cathedral until 1988.

After the Saint’s canonization in 1988 by the Moscow Patriarchate, his honorable relics were transferred to the Church of Saint Sergius of Radonezh not far from Vysha Monastery, and on June 29, 2002, in the presence of His Holiness the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexy II, they were translated from the village of Emmanuilovka to the Dormition Church at the Vysha Hermitage, which had been restored in 1993.

Now Saint Theophan’s relics, to which more and more pilgrims are coming, are located in the Kazan Cathedral of the Vysha Monastery. His primary feast day in January 10th, while the feast of the translation of his relics is on June 16th.

Location of the grave of St. Theophan in 1972 and exhumation.









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