March 4, 2020

Holy Hieromartyrs Joasaph of Snetogorsk and Basil of Mirozh (+ 1299)

Sts. Joasaph of Snetogorsk and Basil of Mirozh (Feast Day - March 4)

The Holy Hieromartyrs Joasaph of Snetogorsk and Basil of Mirozh suffered under the Germans at two of the most ancient of the Pskov monasteries during the thirteenth century. Both these monasteries were outside the city walls and did not have any defenses.

Saint Basil directed the Savior-Transfiguration Mirozh Monastery, founded in the year 1156 by Saint Niphon, Bishop of Novgorod (Apr. 8), and by Saint Abraham of Mirozh (Sept. 24).

Saint Joasaph directed (and according also to some, was the founder, since the monastery was not mentioned before 1299) of the Monastery of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos on Mount Snatna. The ascetics devoted much labor and concern to both the outer and inner welfare of the monasteries. In accord with the strict rule of cenobitic monastic life, introduced into his monastery by Saint Joasaph, the life of the monks was filled with prayer, abstinence and work. (Almost ninety years after the death of Saint Joasaph, his monastic rule was reintroduced in the new monastic rule of the Snetogorsk Monastery by Archbishop Dionysius of Suzdal). The Snetogorsk Monastery traced its origins from the efforts of Saint Euphrosynus of Pskov (May 15) and Saint Sava of Krypetsk (August 28).

On March 4, 1299, the German Catholics fell upon Pskov and burned the Mirozh and Snetogorsk Monasteries. During the burning of the churches, Saints Basil and Joasaph and around twenty-seven (or seventeen) other monks endured an agonizing death. There was at that time much suffering in the city, and for the monks of other monasteries, and also for the women and children, but “through the prayers of the holy venerable martyrs, the Lord preserved the fighting men.” Under the lead of the Pskov prince, Saint Dovmont-Timothy (May 20), they came out against the enemy and near the Church of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, they defeated the invaders at the banks of the Pskova River.

Saints Basil and Joasaph were buried with their fellow ascetics beneath crypts at the churches of their monasteries. The venerable head and part of the relics of Saint Joasaph were preserved in the open in a special reliquary in the church of the Snetogorsk Monastery. Holy Prince Dovmont “out of his rightful inheritance” built a stone church at the Snetogorsk Monastery in place of the one that had burned, and he facilitated the restoration of monastic life at the ruined monasteries.

Soon after the martyric death of Saints Basil and Joasaph their glorification took place at Pskov. On the manuscript Pskov Prologue of the fourteenth-fifteenth centuries, they are listed on March 5. But in the Pskov Chronicle and old Pskov Synodikons (Saint lists), the day of the blessed death of the holy venerable martyrs is given as March 4, and at present, this is the day of their commemoration. The Chronicle mentions the presbyter Joseph, and the Prologue mentions the presbyter Constantine as their fellow sufferers. Saints Joasaph and Basil were canonized in 1987.