Commemorated on August 28
The Monk Savva of
Krypetsk was tonsured at Athos, and from there he came to Pskov. He began
to asceticise on Mount Snetna at the Mother of God monastery, near Pskov, and
thereafter he went off to a more remote spot along the River Tolva, at the
monastery of the Monk Evphrosyn (Comm. 15 May). Finally, he withdrew for
complete solitude to the Krypetsk wilderness, 15 versts from the Tolva, and he
settled alone in a small cave in the impenetrable forest. For food the hermit
had bread and water, and on Wednesdays and Fridays he ate nothing. Living the
life of an hermit he was much assailed by unclean spirits, but always he
prevailed over them through prayer. And after several years in the solitary
life, those zealous for wilderness life began to gather round the Monk Savva.
They besought him to form a monastery and build a church, in honour of the
Apostle John the Theologian. The monk refused to be hegumen of the monastery
and entrusted its guidance to the monk Kassian. Many came out from Pskov to the
austere starets-elder, and he healed and admonished them, but never did he
accept gifts from them.
One time the Pskov
prince Yaroslav Vasil'evich Obolensky, who frequently visited at the monastery,
made journey with his sick wife to the saint. The Monk Savva sent off to him a
message saying: "The starets, the sinner Savva, telleth thee, prince, enter
not into the monastery with the princess; such is our rule here – women are
not to enter the monastery; if thou transgress this fatherly command, thy
princess wilt not receive healing". The prince asked forgiveness, since it
was through ignorance that he was on the point of transgressing the rule. The
Monk Savva came out through the monastery gates together with the brethren and
there served a molieben. The princess was healed. Through the mediation of the
prince, in 1487 Pskov received a grammota-deed to the lands for the monastery.
The monk taught
layfolk to watch over their purity, reminding them about the injunction of the
Apostle against the defilers of the body. He told the rich and the judges, not
to make their living at the expense of the poor and to preserve rightful truth.
He frequently reminded everyone to avoid quarrels and enmity, to preserve love
and peace and to overlook the faults of others by courtesy, even as they in
turn have forgiven us. At the monastery from the very beginning there had been
introduced a strict life-in-common. And then, when sufficient brethren and
means had been gathered, there was nothing in the cell of the monk save for two
icons, his monk's garb and the cot, upon which he lay down to take his rest. By
suchlike poverty he taught the brethren. The monk commanded them to work the
land with their own hands. He said: "For how can we call the ancient
ascetics our fathers, when we live not by their manner of life, how then can we
be accounted their children? They were homeless and poor, they spent their time
in caves and in the wilderness and for the Lord with all their strength they
subjected their flesh to spirit. And they knew respite neither by day, nor by
night. We should love the good Lord, children, not by sounds only nor by our
manner of attire for showing off our love for Him, but by deeds: by love one
for another, by tears, by fasting, by every manner of temperance, just as the
ancient fathers did this".
The grateful prince
built through the fens and the swamps a bridge to the monastery 1400 sazhen [1
sazhen = 7 feet] in length. After his death (+ 28 August 1495), the Monk Savva
did not forsake the monastery, and many a time came to its defense. At night
one time robbers approached the monastery, but they then caught sight of an
august elder, who held in hand a staff and threateningly ordered them to
repent. In the morning they learned that there was no suchlike elder at the
monastery, and they realised, that this had been the Monk Savva himself. The
leader of the robbers made his repentance to the hegumen and remained to live
at the monastery.
The Monk Savva was
tall of stature, with a beard grey as snow, roundish and thick and not very
long. In suchlike visage he appeared in the mid-XVI Century to the monk Isaiah,
in showing him where to find his undecayed relics. Thereafter, in the year
1555, at the request of the Krypetsk brethren, the Pskov priest Vasilii
compiled the life of the Monk Savva, and the feastday to him was established.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.