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August 26, 2019

Saint Adrian of Ondrusov (+ 1549)

St. Adrian of Ondrusov (Feast Day - May 17 & August 26)

Venerable Adrian of Ondrusov (in the world the nobleman Andrew Zavalushin), was the owner of a rich estate (Andreevschina), 9 versts from the monastery of Saint Alexander of Svir (Aug. 30). He accidentally encountered Saint Alexander of Svir during a stag hunt in 1493, and after this he went often to him for guidance, and supplied bread for the ascetics.

Forsaking his estate, he took monastic tonsure at the Valaamo Monastery with the name Adrian. Several years later, with the blessing of Saint Alexander of Svir, Saint Adrian settled in a solitary place on the peninsula of Lake Ladoga. There he built a church in honor of Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker. Opposite the settlement of monks in the deep forest was an island, Sala (the Thicket), where there was a gang of robbers under the leadership of Ondrusa as their ataman. Encountering the monks, the ataman demanded that they get off his land. Saint Adrian, knowing that he did not have money to buy the place, promised the ataman to intercede for him before God. The robber laughed at the monk, but he entreated him so long and so humbly, that the ataman softened and said, “Live.”

This ataman was soon taken captive by another gang, hidden not far from the stoney Cape of Storozhev. The hapless fellow knew that after suffering, torture and death awaited him, and he bitterly repented of his former life. Suddenly, he saw Saint Adrian before him. He said, “You are freed through the mercy of the Lord, for Whose sake you were asked to show mercy to the wilderness brethren,” and he vanished.

The ataman saw himself without fetters at the shore, and with no one around. Astonished, he rushed to the monastery of Saint Adrian and found all the ascetics chanting Psalms. It seemed that Saint Adrian had not left the monastery. The robber fell at the knees of the saint and begged to be accepted as one of the brethren. He finished his life in repentance at the monastery. The robber of another gang also repented. Through the prayers of Saint Adrian, he was tonsured with the name Cyprian. Afterwards, at the place of a tributary, he built Ondrusov Monastery and was glorified by miracles.

The monastery of Saint Adrian received an endowment from Tsar Ivan the Terrible (1533-1584). In August 1549, Saint Adrian was godfather for Anna, daughter of Tsar Ivan the Terrible. When the Saint was returning from Moscow to the monastery, robbers killed him near the village of Obzha, hoping to find money. The brethren waited for a long time for their superior, and two years later, he appeared one night in a vision to a few elders and told them of his death. On another day, 17 May 1551, the brethren found his incorrupt body in a swamp and committed it to burial in the wall of his church in honor of Saint Nicholas.

The memory of Saint Adrian, having received the martyr’s crown, has come to be celebrated twice: on the day of the finding and transfer of his relics (May 17), and on the day of his repose (August 26), which he shares with his namesake, the holy Martyr Adrian.

In 1828, the holy relics of Saint Adrian were solemnly transferred to the newly built stone church in honor of the Entry into the Temple of the Most Holy Theotokos. The place of the martyrdom of Adrian in the village Obzha was marked by a certain monk with a wooden cross. In 1873, according to the prayers of Saint Adrian the locals were miraculously spared of anthrax. In memory of this deliverance and in gratitude to the Saint, on the site of his martyrdom in 1882–1883, a chapel with a bell tower was built.