April 24, 2019

Saint Elias Iorest the Confessor, Metropolitan of Transylvania (+ 1678)

St. Iorest the Confessor of Transylvania (Feast Day - April 24)

Saint Iorest the Confessor was born in 1600 into a peasant family of Transylvania (Ardeal), and received the name Elias in Baptism.

At an early age he entered the Puta Monastery and was tonsured with the name Iorest. He made great progress in the spiritual life, and was also a calligrapher and an iconographer. Because of his virtuous life, the abbot of the monastery recommended him to be ordained to the holy priesthood. Saint Iorest served in the altar with great compunction and fear of God, edifying others by his sermons.

In 1640, Prince Basil Lupu of Moldavia proposed Saint Iorest to succeed Metropolitan Gennadius of Transylvania, who had reposed. By God’s will, Saint Iorest was chosen to lead the Church in Transylvania, and was installed as Metropolitan in 1641.

For three years the holy archpastor defended his flock from the snares of the devil, and from the false teachings of the Calvinists. He traveled throughout his diocese appointing priests, consecrating churches, and teaching the people. He made intense efforts to preserve the Orthodox faith and opposed the efforts of the Transylvanian authorities to impose Calvinism on the Romanian Orthodox. Thus, in 1642, the first catechism was printed in Romanian, whose content of faith was a Calvinist one (Calvinist Catechism). The Calvinist Superintendent Stephen Katona Geleji asked the Metropolitan to distribute this catechism among all Orthodox believers, but he categorically refused both the distribution of the catechism and the other restrictions imposed on his mission since his appointment.

Saint Iorest was thrown into prison and his possessions confiscated in 1643 because of his zealous opposition to the activities of foreign Calvinist missionaries who wished to convert the Orthodox faithful. Metropolitan Iorest had been slandered and falsely accused of immorality to achieve his imprisonment. For nine months he endured beatings and abuse from the Calvinists, then he was released and ordered to pay a fine.

Prince Gheorghe Rakoczy was the one who borrowed the entire sum for the Metropolitan's release from prison, 1,000 taler, a very large sum for that time. According to the deal, Metropolitan Iorest undertook to repay the entire amount borrowed, having as guarantors twenty-four believers. If the Metropolitan did not repay the amount, the guarantors would have to pay in his place. Saint Iorest then returned to Moldavia, and it is believed by some he was appointed as Bishop of Hushi, but others reject this theory.

With the support of the Moldavian hierarchs of the time, he left for Russia in 1645, accompanied by a monk named Germanus, appealing to Tsar Michael Feodorovich Romanov to support him in the restitution of the sum borrowed by the great Transylvanian prince. He was received in an audience with the Tsar, to whom parts of the relics of Saint Demetrios of Thessalonica were handed over. He visited Moscow and probably Saint Sergius Lavra and then returned, probably in 1646, to Moldavia. He spent the rest of his life at the Putna Monastery.

Saint Iorest reposed on March 12, 1678. The Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church officially glorified him and listed him among the saints in 1955.

Apolytikion in Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Confessors of Orthodoxy and good archpastors of the Church of Christ, you directed the people, O blessed hierarchs and victory-bearers, Saints Iorest and Sava, you who are worthy of the crown of life, pray the Lord to save our souls.

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Most blessed Hierarchs of the Orthodox faith, and defenders of the Church of Christ, protect all Orthodox Christians who always sing: Rejoice, Holy Hierarchs Iorest and Sava, wonderful confessors of the Lord.