Sainted Dionysii, Archbishop of Suzdal'

Commemorated on June 26

      Sainted Dionysii, Archbishop of Suzdal', in the world David, was tonsured at the Kievo-Pechersk monastery, from whence with a local blessing of an icon of the Mother of God from the founders Monks Antonii and Theodosii, he arrived at the Volga. Saint Dionysii dug out a cave not far from Nizhni-Novgorod and asceticised in total solitude. Brethren constantly thronged to the holy ascetic and in about the year 1335 he founded a monastery in honour of the Ascension-Voznesenie of the Lord. Among his students of Saint Dionysii were the Monks Evphymii of Suzdal' (Comm. 1 April) and Makarii of Zheltovodsk and Unzhensk (Comm. 25 July). In the year 1352 the holy elder sent twelve men from his brethren to "the upper cities and countryside, whom there God would bless" for the spiritual enlightening of the people and the organising of new monasteries. The monastery of Saint Dionysii exerted a deep charitable influence on the inhabitants of Nizhni-Novgorod. In the year 1371 the saint tonsured into monasticism the forty year old widow of prince Andrei Konstantinovich, an instance of which he accepted into monasticism "dignitaries: women, and widowers, and maidens".
      In the year 1374 Saint Dionysii was deemed worthy of the dignity of bishop, and his years of service as bishop occurred during a remarkable period Russia was rising to cast off the Mongol-Tatar Yoke. On 31 March 1375 the Tatar military-chief, having been shown to the bishop's court by the enslaved inhabitants of Nizhni-Novgorod, shot off an arrow from his bow at Saint Dionysii. But the Lord preserved his chosen one, and the arrow struck only the bishop's mantle. In 1377, through the blessing and possibly the editorship of Saint Dionysii, there was compiled the Lavrentian Chronicle by the Monk Lavrentii, inspiring Russia in the struggle for freedom.
      In 1379, preserving the integrity of the primal-bishop's cathedra, Sainted Dionysii was one of the bishops gathered in Moscow by order of the prince, and he came out against the election as metropolitan of the prince's protegee, the ill reputed archimandrite Mityaya.
      In the same year of 1379 Saint Dionysii journeyed to Constantinople with a protest against the choice of Mityaya on grounds of his complicity with the heretical Strigolniki. The saint made a strong impression upon the Greeks by his sublime spiritual frame of mind and his profound knowledge of Holy Scripture. Patriarch Nilos, having termed the saint "a warrior of God and a spiritual man", wrote that he himself viewed him "at fasting and charity, and vigil, and prayers, and tears, and every other virtue". From Constantinople Saint Dionysii sent off to a Sobor-Council at Suzdal' two copies of the Hodegetria Icon of the Mother of God. In 1382 the sainted-bishop received from the patriarch the title of archbishop. Returning to Russia, the saint travelled to Pskov and Novgorod to struggle against the heresy of the Strigolniki. He visited Constantinople a second time in 1383 for discussion with the patriarch on questions about the governance of the Russian metropolitanate. In the year 1384 Saint Dionysii was made by patriarch Nilos "metropolitan for Russia". But upon his return to Kiev the saint was arrested on orders of the Kiev prince Vladimir Ol'gerdovich and subjected to imprisonment, where he died on 15 October 1385. The burial of the saint was in "the Kiev Cave of Great Antonii". The commemoration of Saint Dionysii on 26 June is celebrated because of his name in common with the Monk David of Soluneia, this being the name he carried in the world. In the Synodikon of the 1552 Nizhni-Novgorod Pechersk monastery, Saint Dionysii is called a "wonderworking monk".

1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.

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