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April 4, 2020

Saint Zosimas of Vorbozomsk (+ 1550)

St. Zosimas of Vorbozomsk (Feast Day - April 4)

Venerable Zosimas of Vorbozomsk was a disciple of Saint Cornelius of Komel (May 19), who was the founder of a monastery dedicated to the Annuniciation of the Most Holy Theotokos on an island in Lake Vorbozoma, twenty-three versts south of White Lake. The monastery was founded in the fifteenth century. In 1501, the head of the monastery was Abbot Jonah, the successor of Saint Cornelius. The monastery was one of the numerous wilderness-monasteries modeled after the so-called “Trans-Volga” monasteries, which were scattered around the Saint Cyril of White Lake Monastery.

We known almost nothing of Saint Zosimas, except that he built a wooden church dedicated to the Annunciation and was most responsible for building up the monastery, though he was not the initial founder as tradition states. According to tradition, as an ascetic feat, Saint Zosimas would carry around a bone of a very large animal that he found that was the size of a man; this bone became an attraction at the monastery long after his death. After many ascetic feats he reposed around 1550. He was buried near the Cathedral Church of the Annunciation of the Most Holy Theotokos, though his holy relics are hidden. The Saint wrote counsels and letters to his spiritual daughter Anastasia.

In the Time of Troubles, in 1612, the monastery, deprived of any protection whatsoever, was captured by a detachment of Catholic Poles and Lithuanians, who plundered and desecrated it. It never had more than 8 to 12 monks at a time throughout its history. In the 19th century it was steadily declining, with hardly a liturgy even being performed there, though pilgrims would come to pray to Saint Zosimas for his intercessions to be healed of illnesses and diseases, as he had become known as a wonderworker.

Alexandra Anatolyevna Grishina, a resident of the village of Vozdvizhenie, said that when the church was destroyed by the Soviets, the icons were thrown into the lake. Women who became involuntary witnesses of this barbarism caught them from the water and hid them in the bushes, and then they carried the icons home. Perhaps this is how the icon of the Venerable Zosima of Vorbozomsk was saved, which was above his relics.