Sainted Ilarion, Metropolitan of Suzdal' and Yur'ev

Commemorated on December 14

      Sainted Ilarion, Metropolitan of Suzdal' and Yur'ev (in the world John), was born 13 November 1631 into the family of the lower-city priest Ananii. His father, famed for his piety and reading, was one of three candidates for the Patriarchal throne, put forth together in choice with the future Patriarch Nikon (1652-1658).
      John took vows at a monastery in 1653. In 1655 he became founder and builder of the Phlorischev wilderness monastery not far from the city of Gorokhovetsa. In the doings of a monk, the saint underwent an harsh struggle with fleshly passions. When he fell down in exhaustion before the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God and with tears besought Her for help, the Mother of God shielded him with gracious power and pacified his spirit. One time, when Saint Ilarion was serving evening song together with a monk-deacon, robbers burst into the church. They killed the monk-deacon and started to set Saint Ilarion on fire, interrogating him as to where the monastery treasure was hid. They did not believe that in the monastery there was no gold. Overcome by the pain, Saint Ilarion turned to the wonderworking icon and said: "O All-Pure Virgin Mary, Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ! If they injure me with the fire, I shall no more have the ability to always glorify Thy Son and Thee". Suddenly the robbers heard the shouts of people searching for them, and in fear they fled.
      One time, Saint Ilarion in passing by the church heard a voice: "I shalt glorify thee through all the land". He trembled, and having gone into the vestibule, he found there no people; in the portico was only the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God. The ascetic with tears fell down before the image and confessed his unworthiness.
      Later on, when the saint had set about construction of a stone church, he greatly sorrowed, that concerns about the construction and disagreements among the workers were distracting him from prayer. While making services in church with the brethren, he was preoccupied by these thoughts and began to regret beginning the work. With tears he besought the Mother of God not to abandon him and to deliver him from these worries. At the finish of the prayer Saint Ilarion remained alone in church and began again to think about the construction. And so he fell asleep. In a dream the Mother of God appeared to him and said: "Transfer My image, named the Vladimir, from this hot church and put it in the newly-made stone church, and I shalt be thine Helper there". Saint Ilarion awoke and gave the command to ring the large bell. The monks immediately assembled. All set off to the hot church and, having prayed before the icon, solemnly transferred it from the portico into the temple. After making the all-night vigil, Divine Liturgy and a molieben, the saint told the brethren about his vision. Then in procession they transferred the icon to the church under construction, where they set it amidst the woods. From that time the construction went successfully and soon was finished. The saint wanted to dedicate the temple in honour of the icon. But he had a vision in which he was made to understand, that the temple was to be consecrated in honour of the Dormition (Uspenie) of the MostHoly Mother of God.
      In the wilderness monastery he maintained a very strict community rule. In the year 1694 the saint sent a directive to the Phlorischev monastery talking of monastic rule, in which he reminisced about his own monastery rule at this monastery: "Under me, a sinner, no one possessed anything of his own, but all was put in common. And at present many of you remember about that former community in common. And they remember also that I consigned to the fire those belongings which, under me a sinner, would destroy that common-community".
      On 11 December 1681 the saint was consecrated to the dignity of Archbishop of Suzdal' and Yur'ev, and in 1682 he was elevated to the dignity of Metropolitan and remained on the Suzdal' cathedra until February 1705. The saint died peacefully on 14 December 1707 and was buried in the Suzdal' cathedral in honour of the Nativity of the MostHoly Mother of God. The saint was known for his unceasing concern for the poor. After his death they found all of three farthings of money.
      The wonderworking Icon of the Mother of God of Vladimir-Phlorischev (Comm. 26 August) was written by the reknown iconographer Ivan Andreevich Chirov in 1464 at Nizhni Novgorod under a vow of Ivan Yakovlevich Vetoshnikov.

1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.

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