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Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Saint Cyril of Astrakhan (+ 1576)

St. Cyril of Astrakhan (Feast Day - March 18)

Venerable Cyril of Astrakhan was archimandrite of the Trinity Monastery in Astrakhan. He had been sent there by Tsar Ivan the Terrible as abbot to the newly-built monastery in the year 1568 after Astrakhan came under Moscow. He constructed at the monastery temples in honor of the Most Holy Trinity, the Entry of the Most Holy Mother of God into the Temple, and Saint Nicholas. He zealously concerned himself with the enlightening of the Astrakhan region, and by his meekness and piety he gained the respect of even the Muslims – who called him the Kara-Daud (the Black David) in distinction from the holy Prophet King David.

The Saint died in about the year 1576, and became known for his miracles afterwards. According to legend, the Saint helped Astrakhan during a fire in 1599. The icon of the Saint was painted in 1676 through a vow of Emelyan Paphentev, whom Saint Cyril had saved when he was drowning in the Volga. A wooden chapel was built over the grave of Archimandrite Cyril, which was replaced by a stone chapel in 1677. The Life of the Saint was compiled in the year 1790, and a troparion and kontakion to him is known. The Church established the feast day in memory of the Saint under 18 March, probably on the basis of having a common name with Saint Cyril of Jerusalem.


The whereabouts of the Saint's relics are not known. According to legend, the Saint left the city, because piety fell in Astrakhan and Islam intensified, which forced him to leave the grave and go to Kiev. In Soviet times, the chapel where his relics were kept was used for the needs of the garrison, later as a storehouse. In 1992, a wooden tomb was placed there, covered with a shroud with the image of the Saint. In 2002, he was glorified as a Saint.


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