April 27, 2020

Saint Stephen, Abbot of the Kiev Far Caves, and Bishop of Vladimir-Volynsky (+ 1094)

St. Stephen of the Kiev Caves and Vladimir-Volynsky (Feast Day - April 27)

Before being tonsured a monk, Saint Stephen was raised in a family of wealthy parents; after their death, he distributed all the property and decided to devote himself to the service of God. He pursued asceticism at the Kiev Caves Lavra under the guidance of Saint Theodosius (May 3). Saint Theodosius sometimes entrusted him to exhort the brethren with edifying words.

Before the death of Saint Theodosius the monks asked him to appoint Saint Stephen as abbot, who was the domestikos (chief arranger for the choir). “He grew up under your instruction,” they said, “and he served you. Give him to us.” So Saint Theodosius transferred the guidance of the monastery to Saint Stephen.

Saint Stephen became a worthy successor to his teacher. During his tenure as abbot, he laid the foundations of a spacious church in honor of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos, begun under Saint Theodosius. The cells of the brethren were moved near the new church. At the front of the place there were several cells for monks who were entrusted with burying the dead. They served the Divine Liturgy each day, and also commemorated the dead.

In 1078 Saint Stephen was removed from office and driven from the monastery through the malice of an evil monk. He endured this meekly and without bitterness, and continued to pray for those who had turned against him.

Saint Stephen learned that master builders had come from Greece with an icon of the Theotokos, and they told him of the appearance of the Heavenly Queen at Blachernae. Because of this, Saint Stephen also built a church at Klovo in honor of the Theotokos (in memory of the Placing of Her Robe at Blachernae) which expanded into a monastery. The monastery was founded in thanksgiving for solicitude of the Most Holy Theotokos for the Caves Lavra.

In 1091 Saint Stephen was made Bishop of Vladimir-Volynsky, and he labored to convert the inhabitants of Volhynia to Christianity.

Being already a bishop and having arrived at a monastery in Klovo, Saint Stephen was honored with a wonderful vision of the Divine light emanating from the relics of the Venerable Theodosius, who rested in the cave of the Caves Monastery. Hastening to the place of this occurrence, the Saint learned about the decision of the abbot and the brotherhood of the Kiev Caves Lavra to transfer the holy relics of Saint Theodosius from the cave to the cathedral church of the monastery. Thus, Saint Stephen was able to take part, together with a host of other bishops, in the solemn transfer of the relics of his teacher and spiritual father, Saint Theodosius.

Saint Stephen died on April 27, 1094 during the sixth hour of the night.