The Monk Innokentii of Komel'sk and Vologda

Commemorated on March 19

      The Monk Innokentii of Komel'sk and Vologda was born at Moscow, and was descended from the lineage of the Moscow princes Okhlyabinin. He became a monk in the monastery of the Monk Kirill of Belozersk (+ 9 June 1427), and was put under the guidance of the Monk Nil Sorsky (+ 1508, Comm. 7 May).
      The Monks Innokentii and Nil wandered through the East visiting Palestine, Constantinople, and spent several years at the Athos monasteries. Having returned to Rus', the saints settled not in their original Kirillo-Belozersk monastery, but within solitary cells for monastic seclusion. Out of love for wilderness-life they then withdrew into the impassable forest at the River Sora, some 15 versts from the monastery. Here they erected a cross, dug out a well, and made themselves cells separately, after the manner of the skete wilderness-monasteries. With great toil a church was built on a marshy spot. The hermits led strict lives.
      Foreseeing his own demise, the Monk Nil sent Saint Innokentii to the River Nurma and predicted to him: "God doth send thee there, and thy monastery shalt be one of life in common; my wilderness monastery after my death will remain such as it was during my life, with the brothers living separately each in his own cell".
      Upon the death of the Monk Nil, his holy disciple withdrew into the Vologda hinterland and in 1491 he built a cell at the Rivulet Eda, which flows into the River Nurma. In a short while disciples began to gather to him. And following the final command of his teacher, the Monk Innokentii did not seek any donations for it.
      The Monk Innokentii toiled for thirty years at building his monastery. On the basis of the works of the holy fathers and in particular the writings of the Monk Nil of Sorsk, he left behind an instruction for the brethren. The Monk Innokentii bid them first of all to avoid wrangling and disputes and asked them to preserve love for Christ and spiritual peace. The saint forbid young and beardless monks to be accepted and tonsured at his monastery, and he forbid entry to women at the monastery. In departing the monastery a monk lost his right to a cell, and if he returned, then he could occupy it only with the consent of the monastery head and the brethren. The monk asked that a future church be consecrated in the name of the great and holy John the Forerunner, Baptiser of the Lord, in remembrance of the Third Finding of Saint John the Baptist's Venerable Head (Comm. 25 May), since Saint John is a patron for all monks and wilderness dwellers (ultimately the monastery was called Transfiguration after its chief temple).
      The Monk Innokentii died on 19 March 1521. In accord with his last wish he was buried in a corner of the monastery near a marsh. Upon his grave was placed a stone, inscribed with the year, month and day of his repose.

1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.

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