April 7, 2020

Saint Daniel of Pereslavl (+ 1540)

St. Daniel of Pereslavl (Feast Day - April 7)

Venerable Daniel of Pereslavl, in the world Dimitri, was born around 1460 in the city of Pereslavl-Zalessky. Dimitri had two brothers, Gerasim and Flor, and a sister Xenia. He was the son of pious and God-loving parents, Constantine and Theodosia, who later was tonsured as a nun with the name Thekla. Therefore, it is not surprising that from his childhood, Daniel had a great love for the monastic life and tried to imitate the exploits of Saint Symeon the Stylite (Sept. 1), which he once heard being read.

One day, in imitation of Saint Symeon, he tied a rope around his body. The rope gradually began to eat into his flesh and produce pain; Dimitri began to grow weak, ate and drank little, slept poorly, his face became dull and pale. But as the body of the young ascetic weakened, his spirit was inspired – he clung to God more and more with his thoughts and even more ardently indulged in secret prayer. Once his sister, the girl Xenia, passing by the sleeping Dimitri, smelled the stench and lightly touched her brother. There was a painful moan. Xenia looked with deep sorrow at Dimitri, saw his suffering and quickly ran to her mother to inform her of her brother's illness. The mother immediately arrived in time for her son, opened his clothes and saw that the rope dug into the flesh; the flesh began to rot and emit stench, and worms swarmed noticeably in the wounds, just as it did for Saint Symeon. At the sight of the suffering of her son, Theodosia bitterly sobbed and immediately called on her husband to be a witness to the incident. The amazed parents began to ask Dimitri: "Why do you expose yourself to such grave suffering?" The lad, wanting to hide his feat, replied: "From my foolishness I did it, forgive me!" Father and mother with tears in their eyes and reproaches on their lips began to tear the rope from their son’s body, but Dimitri humbly begged them not to do this and said: “Leave me, dear parents, let me suffer for my sins.” “But what sins do you have being so young?” – asked the father and mother as they continued their work. In a few days, with all sorts of sorrows and illnesses, with a plentiful outpouring of blood, the rope was separated from the body, and Dimitri began to recover little  by little from his wounds.

When Dimitri completed his education, he learned a great deal about the monastic life from Abbot Jonah of the Monastery of Saint Nikitas the Stylite (May 24) at Pereslavl. From him Dimitri learned of Elder Paphnutius at Borov Monastery, and desired to go there and become a monk under his guidance. Convincing his brother Gerasim to go with him, they secretly left their parents house to pursue the monastic life.

When the Saint arrived at the Borov Monastery in 1466 with his brother Gerasim, Saint Paphnutius (May 1) entrusted him to Elder Leucius of Volokolamsk (Aug. 17), who was an experienced ascetic in the spiritual life. Saint Leucius was a disciple of Saint Paphnutius of Borov and an associate of Saint Joseph of Volokolamsk (Sept. 9). Under his guidance, Saint Daniel reached his spiritual maturity.

Ten years later, Saint Daniel returned to Pereslavl at the Goritsky Monastery, where his relative was the abbot, and there he was ordained a priest. Many began to come to him for confession and for spiritual advice. He was joined there by his brother Gerasim, but he died in 1507. Later his other brother Flor would join him at the monastery he established, and he died there.

There he also demonstrated much love for his neighbor. He buried the neglected, the poor, and those without any family. If he heard about someone who was killed by robbers, about someone who drowned or was found frozen on the road, and there was no one to bury them, then he tried his best to find the dead body, carried it with his hands to the place of the burial of the homeless, buried it, and afterwards remembered them in the Divine Liturgy.

The Saint also founded a church dedicated to All Saints on the site of the cemetery, so that a prayer would be offered in it for the repose of the unknown dead Christians. This church eventually developed into the Danilov Monastery established by the Saint. The Saint would visit this monastery often and offer the brethren advice, but he still lived at Goritsky Monastery and eventually became its abbot. Due to the burdens of being an abbot, he desired to live in silence, so he was received by the Theophany Monastery in Moscow. Settling there, he continued to often visit the monastery he established.

Many miracles happened through the prayers of Saint Daniel: he turned water into healing kvass, and healed the brethren from disease. During the famine, when there was not enough bread left in the monastery's granary, he gave it to a poor widow with children. And since then, as a reward for the mercy of the Saint, the flour in the granary was not diminished throughout the whole famine.

Even during the life of the Saint, his authority was so high that, at his request, Grand Duke Vasily III released those sentenced to death and twice was asked by him to be a godfather at the baptism of his children.

Anticipating the approach of death, Archimandrite Daniel was tonsured into the Great Schema. The blessed Elder reposed in the monastery he founded on April 7, 1540, at 11 a.m., on Wednesday of the second week of Easter, in the 81st year of his life. His incorrupt relics were recovered in 1625.

The Lord glorified His saint with numerous miracles after his death. Saint Daniel is also commemorated on December 30 and July 28.