The Monk Paul of Komel'sk

Commemorated on January 10

      The Monk Paul of Komel'sk, a famed student of the Monk Sergei of Radonezh, was born at Moscow in the year 1317. From his youthful years he distinguished himself by his piety and kindliness towards the poor and suffering. His rich parents prepared him for a secular life, but at twenty-two years of age he secretly left his parental home and received tonsure at the Nativity monastery on the Volga (in Yaroslavsk diocese).
      From there Paul transferred to the Holy Trinity monastery to the Monk Sergei of Radonezh, spending several years with him as a cell-obedient, in everything obeying the wise guidance of the holy starets (elder). With the blessing of the Monk Sergei, he settled a way off from the monastery in a separate cell, where he spent fifteen years as an hermit. Having asked the blessing of the Monk Sergei to go off into the wilderness for a quiet and solitary life, the Monk Paul wandered about for a long while, seeking for himself the place of solitude. He went much about the wilderness, he spent time with the Monk Avraamii of Chukhlomsk (Comm. 20 July) and finally, he remained in the Komel'sk forest. At the Gryazovitsa River, in the hollow of an old linden tree, the monk made himself a small cell and dwelt there for three years in complete silence, "not giving his body rest, for which to receive future rest". Then he moved on to the River Nurma, where he built himself an hut and dug out a well. He spent his days in vigil and prayer. Five days out of the week he went without food, and only on Saturday and Sunday did he partake of some bread and water. The news spread widely about the hermit, and there begin coming to him those wishing spiritual guidance of him. Despite his love for the solitary life, the Monk Paul never refused anyone in spiritual consolation and guidance. He was visited here also by the Monk Sergei of Nuromsk, who likewise had sought solitude with the blessing of their teacher the Monk Sergei of Radonezh, and who likewise passed his ascetic life in these locales.
      With the blessing of the Monk Sergei and the agreement of Metropolitan Photii, the Monk Paul in 1414 built the Holy Trinity Church, around which grew up a monastery, receiving the name of Pavlo-Obnorsk. Having written for the brethren a strict ustav (monastic rule), the Monk Paul entrusted the guidance of the new monastery to his disciple Aleksei, while he himself continued as before to live in a solitary cell on an hill, meanwhile remaining a responsive and good counsellor for anyone needing his healing help. The Monk Paul died at 112 years of age. His final words were: "Brethren, have love one for another and keep to the rule of the monastic community".
      The Life of the saint was written in about the year 1546, and his glorification occurred in 1547.

1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.

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