Mysteries and secrets of the life of St. Sergius of Radonezh

For modern admirers of the history of XIV century is associated not least with the glorious victory of Russian arms – the battle of Kulikovo. However, for contemporaries it was not so.

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Chronicle of a strange century

Soviet historiography of ancient XIV century didn’t. For this time to invent complicated names – something like “continuation of the struggle against the Mongol-Tatar conquerors and the beginning of the gathering of the Russian lands around Moscow”. “Continuation”, “the beginning” – not a single completed historical process. And, if you look at the details, and no permanent.

Yes, like throughout the century the princes of Moscow steadily increased their holdings, and the contenders for the Grand label is now less than a century ago.

However, in 1360-ies, at the age of Dimitri Ivanovich, a sign of political superiority still goes from the hands of Moscow to the Suzdal; later, he manages to return thanks to active participation in the country’s governance of Metropolitan Alexy. In 1370 in a dispute over a coveted symbol of power turns on Mikhail of Tver, and in 1382 Tver Principality will receive the status of a Great independent.

In the North-West during the 1300’s and then continue to be two of the feudal Republic of Novgorod and Pskov. In the South-East’s status as a great had the Ryazan princes in their policies to balance between Moscow and the Horde.

As you can see, judgment on the political championship of Moscow at this time is still very conditional.

With the “struggle against the Mongol-Tatar invaders” too not all is smooth. In this century, the hated Horde are increasingly…and as a means to clarify the relationship with their own neighbors.

Baskaks. Artist Sergey Ivanov

In 1328 Ivan Kalita personally leads under Tver Horde forces, who are ruining the city of Tver rulers forget his political ambitions for several decades.

In 1382 Dmitry Donskoy agrees to resume paying tribute and thanks to this again bypasses the representative of Tver in the struggle for the label.

Yes, in 1380, took place the battle of Kulikovo – the largest for its time, the battle against the Horde. But two years after him, while Dimitry Donskoy gathered at the Rus army in return of the dead, the troops of Khan Tokhtamysh burned Moscow.

So: pay, drama, fighting, and then again to pay. And against the background of these events in the wilds of Radonezh forest unfolded a very different story.

“From birth of Sergius… and until his end”

The life of St. Sergius wrote two of the greatest ancient hagiographer – Epiphanius the Wise and Pachomius Logofet. On the borders of the text and the second one, researchers still argue. It is generally believed that Epiphanius extremely lengthy life written, and Pachomius then it rules, truly immense adapting text to the needs of everyday life.

Epiphany well done and unique preparatory work, interviewing many of his contemporaries and of witnesses to the life of the monk is his older brother, lay brother, disciples.

In the end, the story turned out he did not simply biographical, but historical. It not only describes the moments, ordinary in the story of the Holy birth from pious parents, feats of asceticism, vows, miracles, but referred to many events of Russian history at that time.

So, the author States that the migration of parents St from Rostov to Radonezh took place after the transition of the Rostov lands under the rule of Ivan Kalita, when “Muscovites received in Rostov great power” and offended the locals. The base of the first Trinity Church had on the early years of the reign of Simeon Ivanovich the Proud.

Rostov The Great

However, out of sight of the hagiographer absolutely falls other activities of the monk and diplomatic.

It is known that during his life the monk repeatedly performed diplomatic errands, first of Metropolitan Alexis, and then, apparently, and Dimitry Donskoy.

So, over the years St. Sergius persuaded to move in obedience Moscow several princes Konstantin of Rostov, Boris Konstantinovich of Suzdal, and then even the Oleg of Ryazan, is notorious that in the battle of Kulikovo, he participated on the side of the Horde. Such activity, however, the Abbot of the Trinity, apparently, seemed to the authors are too “earthly” and “vain.”

In General, the structure of the life of St. Sergius of Radonezh, consisting of individual stories describing the lives of not only the Saint but also his inner circle, very reminiscent of the earlier life of Theodosius of Pechersk.

Oslyabya and Peresvet: the mystery of the Russian chivalry

For modern admirers of the history of XIV century is associated not least with the glorious victory of Russian arms – the battle of Kulikovo. However, for contemporaries it was not so.

Even if to leave alone the historical skeptics who remind you the exact location of the famous battle, archaeologists have not yet found, – there is reason to believe that the contemporaries referred to the Mamaev battle quite differently. Rather, it caused them in the first place, the grief of the unprecedented for the ancient art of war casualties.

In the first years after the battle, when the invasion of Tokhtamysh gave way to raids Edigei, writing about it was most likely a once-and no one. But even the earliest extant written stories about the battle, the so – called Kirillo-Belozersky list of the “Legend of Mamay” (not before the second half of the XV century) military operations describes briefly. But ends with a long obituary listing the names of fallen soldiers.

Generally, all ancient works, of which we today learn about the battle of Kulikovo, were written by her century, and even later. It was then in the “Legend of Mamay” comes the news that before the historic battle Dimitri Donskoy came to the Trinity monastery, where he received from the lips of Abbot unambiguous prediction of victory: “to Win, sir, their adversaries”.

The blessing of the monk Sergei Radonezhsky Dmitry Donskoy. Artist Vladimir Sokovnin

There, in the “Legend”, reported two incah the Oslabya and Peresveta – St. Sergius supposedly sent to battle with Dimitrii Donskoy. And from “Tales”, it follows that, calling to fight the Horde warrior Chelubey, Alexander Peresvet on the Kulikovo field died.

Sergius of Radonezh blessing overexposure before Mamai’s defeat. Miniature Chronicle of Ivan the terrible, 1558-1576. Photo: Wikipedia

The story is beautiful, no doubt. Of course, the involvement of monks in military actions don’t really fit in with the Eastern Christian tradition, so can be considered: the blessing of St. Sergius has given us the only example of the Russian chivalry. That’s only if it really is a moot point.

Modern historians have suggested that the brothers-monks to tonsure may have been serving nobles – then their military experience could be useful to the Prince. On the other hand, in the XVI century in Russia is known to childbirth Elevating and Peresvetova, pointing to their origin from the legendary parties Mamay. And in the Simonov monastery, according to tradition, was preserved the tomb of Alexander Peresvet, where he was buried together with his son.

Then we can assume that in battle the monks, attended by the Prince’s servants, and became later, well, the narrator messed up a century later. Only and here is Sergius? In General, it was Lee – it was not the riddle.

The life of Epiphanius about the conversation of Dmitry Donskoy and Reverend reports much more restrained. St. Sergius here is a clear victory Prince predicts, says only: “If God help you, you will conquer.” And only later a messenger from the convent brings to the Prince the news that “God will help”.

The invisible man

What is left to us from lengthy lives? The lad, learned to read and write only by a Divine gift?

Doubting the young man, since the childhood dreaming to be a nun, but later took the vows of a brother, who to marry, and to bury the family?

Strange seeker, is available nearby monasteries retired to the thicket?

The younger brother, not daring even built them a Church to call without the advice of a senior?

The Abbot, at first, carefully avoided monastery, then at the first words of strife, who lost his brother, and in the end also carefully run the Metropolitan dignity?

The employee is not taking pay for work – sieve rotten bread sooner than is over? Digging in the garden a monk in old robes which visiting the farmer does not want to identify is known to the righteous?

The Artist Mikhail Nesterov. Proceedings of St. Sergius

The Abbot, introduced at the Holy Trinity monastery monastic Charter only after a direct blessing on the Patriarch of Constantinople?

Or Serge is the founder of several monasteries and spiritual mentor an even larger number of future abbots.

Arbiter wonders who will be the angel and which is granting the conversation, the Holy mother of God. And the divine fire descends on the altar when he serves.

Witnesses said: when the question about under which name to cut future Patriarch Alexy II, on one of the notes was drawn down the name of St. Sergius. However, the draw decided otherwise. Then one of the participants joked, they say “Holy, again lost”.

St. Sergius is inferior – that’s just, what if something happens and we run again to the monastery and ask: “Venerable father Sergius, pray unto God for us.”


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