The Monk Kirill (Cyril) of Novoezersk

Commemorated on February 4

      The Monk Kirill (Cyril) of Novoezersk was born into a pious family. The Lord marked him among the chosen while still in the womb of his mother. One time when Kirill's mother, having her son beneathe her heart, was praying in church during the time of Divine Liturgy, the infant within her womb thrice cried out at the reading of the Gospel, during the Cherubimic Hymn, and at the moment of the transformation of the Holy Gifts.
      From the time of his childhood the saint was fond of solitude and prayer, and he dreamt of monastic life. At fifteen years of age Kirill secretly left his parental home, intending to enter the Pskovo-Pechersk monastery. He did not know directions for the way to the monastery, and having taken along nothing from home for the journey he went his way, putting all his trust in the Lord and His All-Pure Mother. At 20 versts from the city the lad met up with a magnificent monastic-elder, who led him to the monastery and at parting blessed him with the words: "May God bless thee, my child, and grant thee the Angelic form, and may thou be a chosen vessel of the Divine Spirit". Having said this, the starets-elder became invisible. The lad perceived that this had been a messenger from God, and he gave thanks to the Lord.
      The monastery head the Monk Kornilii (Comm. 20 February) saw with his perspicacious eye the grace manifest in the lad. He provided him with much guidance and tonsured him into the monastic form with the name Kirill (Cyril). The fifteen year old monk astonished the brethren with his efforts: by fasting and prayer he emaciated the flesh, zealously he fulfilled obediences, day and night he was ready to study the Word of God; and already then he thought to finish his days in the wilderness, in solitude.
      The parents of the lad bewept him as one dead, but one time an elder of the monastery of the Monk Kornilii came to them and told them about their son and his life at the monastery. The joyful news confirmed in the mother of the Kirill her love for God. Having spoken with her husband about leaving to the monastery her portion of the inheritance, she herself left the world and assumed the monastic form with the name Elena (Helen), and then soon peacefully died. The father of the monk came to the monastery, and Hegumen Kornilii bid Kirill to meet with him. The monk was troubled, but not daring to disobey the hegumen, he fell down at the feet of his father, imploring forgiveness for having secretly left home. The father forgave his son, and he himself remained henceforth at the monastery, with the Monk Kornilii tonsuring him into monasticism with the name Varsonophii, and gave him over for instruction to his son. Three years later he peacefully died. His son continued all the more fervently to toil for the Lord, disdaining his own will in making obediences not only to the hegumen, but also to the brethren. He thirsted to go about all the Russian land, venerating its holy things and to choose for himself a wilderness place for a life in quietude. Having received the blessing of the Monk Kornilii, the Monk Kirill left the monastery, in which he had grown strong spiritually, and he went off to the seacoast regions, roaming about through the forests and the wild places, eating tree roots and forest berries. In this difficult exploit of wanderer the saint spent about twenty years, and he went about on the outskirts of Moscow, and Novgorod and Pskov, but he never entered any house nor took alms. By day he wandered, nights he spent at prayer on church porches, and did not pass up the church services.
      One time while at prayer, an heavenly light shone forth for the Monk Kirill, indicating the direction where he should found a monastery. He at once set off on his way, and having reached the Tikhvinsk monastery, he spent three days and three nights at it in incessant prayer to the MostHoly Lady Mother of God. In his sleep the Mother of God appeared to him. Showing Her approval of him, She said: "Thou pleaser of the MostHoly Trinity, My servant Kirill, go to the Eastern region of Beloozero (WhiteLake), and the Lord My Son wilt show thee the place of rest for thine old age".
      The monk proceeded on to Beloozero, with tears of humility at the miraculous vision. On the lake he caught sight of a not-large island, from which a pillar of fire rose up to the sky. There, beneathe a many-centuries old spruce tree, Blessed Kirill built himself an hut and then he set up two cells: one for himself, the other for future brethren; the hermit also erected two small churches, one in honour of the Resurrection of Christ and the other in honour of the Mother of God Hodegetria ("Way-Guide"). He underwent many a temptation here from enemies invisible and from idlers roving about, but he overcame everything by brave endurance and constant prayer. News about his holy life spread everywhere, and brethren gathered about him.
      There was many an instance of graced healing through the prayers of the monk, and the Lord granted His saint also the gift of foresight. Sensing his impending end, the monk summoned the brethren. With tears of humility the saint instructed his spiritual children one final time, until his voice gave out. For a long time then he was silent, but suddenly he cried out with loud sobbing. "I go off to the Lord into life eternal; ye however I do entrust to God the Word and His Grace, bestowing an inheritance and sanctification to all. May it help you. But I beseech ye, slacken not in fasting and prayers, guard yourself from the snares of the enemy, and the Lord in His ineffable mercy will not contemn your humility".
      Having said this, the saint gave a final kiss to the brethren, communed the Holy Divine Mysteries, signed himself with the Sign of the Cross, and with the words "Glory to God for everything!", he gave up his pure soul on 4 February 1532.

1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.

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The Monk Kirill
(Cyril) of Novoezersk

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