Commemorated on June 11
The Monk Varnava
(Barnabas) of Vetluzhsk was born in Great Ustiug. Before going off into the
wilderness he was a priest in one of the city churches. In 1417 the monk
settled at one of the banks of the River Vetluga at Red Hill (Krasnaya Gora),
where he asceticised in solitude over the course of 28 years, "toiling for
God in psalmody and prayer, he subsisted on grass and acorns". In the
words of the author of the Life of the saint, there came also to Saint Varnava
"wild animals, and many a bear did live nigh to his cell... He however did
walk amongst them, as though amongst cattle, watching after them and delighting
with them; rejoicing in the great God that these beasts were become tame for
In the surroundings
of Red Hill as far off as 50 versts, there was not a single human habitation.
Occasionally wilderness people would visit "for a blessing", and he
would predict to them, that after his repose on the banks of the River Vetluga
"God would multiply the human habitation, and upon the place of his
dwelling monks would live".
tradition, in 1439, before he settled at the River Unzha, the Monk Makarii
(Comm. 25 July) came hither for instruction and guidance. The Monk Varnava died
in old age on 11 June 1445. After the end of the ascetic, at the place of his
efforts there came to dwell "from various lands" many a monk and
"after them farmers" and "many people did spread all along this
river all the way to the great River Volga". At Red Hill the monks built
two churches – the one in honour of the MostHoly Trinity, and the other, over
the grave of the monk – in the name of Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker, and
they founded a common-life monastery, which received as its name "the
Varnavinsk wilderness-monastery". The Vita of Saint Varnava was written in
1639 by a monk of the Varnavinsk monastery – "the very venerable
priest-monk Iosif (Dyadkin), who was afterwards in the imperial city of Moscow
the chief director of the directory of book printing". For the
authentication and verification of the miracles, which occurred at the grave of
the monk, in that same year of 1639 there was a witnessing of the holy relics
under the direction of Patriarch Joasaph.
With the passing of
time at the place of the Varnavinsk monastery there arose the district town
Varnavin, and the chief church of the monastery became the cathedral church in
the name of the Disciple Barnabas.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.