The Monk Kirill (Cyril), Hegumen of Beloezersk

Commemorated on June 9

      The Monk Kirill (Cyril), Hegumen of Beloezersk, (in the world Kosma) was born in Moscow of pious parents. In his youthful years he was left an orphan and lived with his kinsman, the boyar (nobleman) Timofei Vasil'evich Vel'yaminov, in the surroundings of the court of the GreatPrince Dimitrii Donskoi (1363-1389). Secular life bored the youth. At the request of the Monk Stephan of Makhrisch (+ 1406, Comm. 14 July), Kosma was dismissed to the Simonov monastery, where he took vows under Saint Theodore (+ 1395, Comm. 28 November) with the name Kirill. The Monk Kirill fulfilled his monastic obediences under the guidance of the starets (elder) Michael, who afterwards was Bishop of Smolensk. By night the elder read the Psalter, and the Monk Kirill bowed making poklons, but at the first clang of the bell he went to matins. He asked the elder permission to partake of food every 2nd or 3rd day, but the experienced elder did not allow this, but blessed him rather to eat with the brethren, only not to the extent of being full. The Monk Kirill carried out his obedience in the bread-bakery: he carried water, chopped firewood, and distributed bread. When the Monk Sergei of Radonezh came to the Simonov monastery, he then before any others visited and affectionately conversed with the Monk Kirill. They transferred the Monk Kirill from the bread-bakery to the kitchen, and the saint told himself, gazing at the burning fire: "Beware, Kirill, lest thou fall into the fire eternal". The Monk Kirill toiled for nine years in the kitchen and he attained to such tender emotion, that he was not able to eat bread without tears, blessing the Lord. Fleeing the glory of man, the monk at times began to be a fool-for-Christ. In punishment for the transgressing of propriety, the monastery head punished him on bread and water for 40 days; the Monk Kirill underwent this punishment with joy. But the saint could not conceal his spirituality, and the experienced elders understood him and against his will they compelled him to accept the dignity of priest-monk. During free time from services, the Monk Kirill took himself a turn as novice and occupied himself with heavy work. When Saint Theodore was ordained archbishop of Rostov, the brethren in 1390 chose the Monk Kirill as archimandrite of the monastery.
      Rich and important people began to visit the monk to hear his guidance. This disturbed the humble spirit of the saint, and he despite the entreaty of the brethren would not remain head of the monastery, but rather secluded himself in his former cell. But even here frequent visitors troubled the monk, and he crossed over to old Simonovo. The soul of the Monk Kirill yearned for quietude, and he prayed the Mother of God to show him a place, conducive for salvation. One time at night, reading as always an akathist before the Hodigetria icon of the Mother of God, he heard a voice: "Go to Beloozero (White Lake), there is the place for thee".
      At the Beloezero lakeside, then desolate and sparsely populated, he long went in search of the place, which in the vision was destined for his dwelling. In the surroundings of Mount Myaura at Siversk Lake, he together with his companion the Monk Pherapont (Comm. 27 May), set up a cross and dug up the ground.
      The Monk Pherapont soon set off for another place, and the Monk Kirill pursued asceticism in his underground cell not even one year in solitude. One time Saint Kirill, troubled by a strange dream, lay down to sleep under a pine tree, but just hardly as he closed his eyes, he heard a voice: "Run, Kirill!" The Monk Kirill only just managed to jump away, as the pine tree came crashing down. From this pine tree the ascetic made a cross. Another time the Monk Kirill nearly perished from flames and smoke when it cleared away the forest, but God preserved His saint. A certain peasant attempted to burn down the cell of the monk, but as much as he tried, he did not succeed. Then having repented with tears, he confessed his sin to the Monk Kirill, who vowed him into monasticism.
      To the monk there came from Simonov monastery the monks Zevedei and Dionysii, beloved by him, and then Nathanael, afterwards steward of the monastery. Many began to come to the monk and asked to be deemed worthy of monasticism. The holy elder perceived, that his time of silence was ended. In the year 1397 he constructed a temple in honour of the Uspenie (Dormition or Repose) of the Mother of God.
      When the number of brethren had multiplied, the monk gave for the monastery an ustav (rule) of community-life, which he sanctified by the example of his own life. Thus, in church no one should make conversation, no one ought to leave from it before the end of services; and to the Gospel they came according to the eldest. At refectory meals they sat each at their own place, and in the refectory there was silence. From the refectory each went quietly to his own cell. No one was able to receive either letters or gifts, without having shown them to the Monk Kirill; without his blessing they did not write a letter. Money was kept in the monastery treasury, nor did anyone possess anything personal. Even to drink water they went to the refectory. The cells were not locked, and in them, besides icons and books, nothing was kept. In the final years of the Monk Kirill's life, the boyar (nobleman) Roman decided to gift the monastery with a village and sent off the deed of gift. The Monk Kirill discerned, that if the monastery came to possess a village, then for the brethren it would prompt concerns about the land, settlements would emerge to shatter the monastic quietude, and so he refused the gift.
      The Lord rewarded His saint with the gift of perspicacity and healing. A certain Feodor, having entered into the monastery out of love for the monk, and then so hated him, that he could not look at the saint, felt impelled to leave the monastery. He approached the cell of the Monk Kirill and, glancing at his grey hair, from shame he was not able to say a word. The monk said to him: "Sorrow not, my brother, for all are mistaken about me; thou alone knowest the truth and all my unworthiness; I am actually a worthless sinner". Then the Monk Kirill blessed Feodor, and added that he should no more be troubled by such thought. From that time Feodor lived at peace in the monastery.
      One time there was no wine for Divine Liturgy, and the sexton told the saint about this. The Monk Kirill gave commands to bring him the empty vessel, which he opened full of wine. During a time of famine the Monk Kirill distributed bread to all the needy, and he did not stop, despite that the normal reserves hardly sufficed for the brethren.
      The monk tamed a storm on the lake, which threatened the fishermen, and he predicted that none of the brethren would die until his end, despite that a plague would rage, and afterwards many would follow after him.
      The monk did his final Divine-services on the day of the Holy Trinity. Having giving final instructions to the brethren to preserve love amongst themselves, the Monk Kirill blessedly reposed in the 90th year of his life on 9 June 1427 on the same-name ("tezoimennie") day of memory with him of Saint Cyril, Archbishop of Alexandria. In the first year after the death of the monk from the 53 brethren 30 men died. The monk often appeared to the remaining in dreams with advice and guidance.
      The Monk Kirill loved spiritual enlightenment and he brought this love to his disciples. Among the works at the monastery in 1635 there were numbered more than two-thousand books, among them sixteen "of the Wonderworker Kirill". Three letters of the monk to Russian princes, existing down to our time, reveal remarkable specimens of his spiritual instruction and guidance, love, love of peace and consolation.
      The all-Russian veneration of the monk began not later than 1447-1448. The Life of Saint Kirill was written, commissioned by Metropolitan Theodosii and GreatPrince Vasilii Vasil'evich, by the priest-monk Pakhomii the Logothete, who dwelt at the Kirillov monastery in 1462 and met with many of the eye-witnesses and disciples of the Monk Kirill, in whose number was also the Monk Martinian (Comm. 12 January), at that time guiding the Ferapontov monastery.

1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.

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The Monk Kirill
(Cyril), Hegumen of Beloezersk

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