Commemorated on November 17
The Monk Nikon,
Hegumen of Radonezh, a close student and successor of the Monk Sergei of
Radonezh (+ 1392, Comm. 25 September and 5 July), was born at Yur'ev-Pol'sk.
Having heard of the angelic life of the Radonezh Wonderworker, the lad came to
the Monk Sergei and requested to take vows into the angelic form. The Monk
Sergei discerned the purity and prudence of the lad and gave him a testing –
he sent him to his disciple Athanasii the Eminent (+ post 1401, Comm. 12
September). But the Monk Athanasii would not accept him right away. Only after
seeing the persistence of the lad did he vow him into the monastic form. The
Monk Nikon in living with him worked at prayer, studied Holy Scripture and
persevered in virtue and purity. When he reached the age of maturity, he was
ordained to the dignity of priest. After a certain while the Monk Athanasii
gave him blessing to go see the Monk Sergei. The Monk Sergei, joyfully catching
sight of him, said: "It is fine that thou art come, my child Nikon"
and happily received him. He gave orders for the Monk Nikon to serve the
brethren. The disciple passed whole days at monastic matters, and nights – in
prayerful talks with God. The Monk Sergei was comforted by his life. Having
received a special insight concerning him, the Monk Sergei bid his disciple to
dwell with him in his own cell, so that he might share in spiritual attainment.
He fondly instructed him and explained much about the essence of spiritual
life. The Monk Sergei at first assigned the Monk Nikon to the duty of assisting
the monastery head, but six months before his repose, when he had committed
himself to silence, he appointed the disciple as his successor.
After the death of
the Monk Sergei (+ 25 September 1392), he attentively attended to
everything that was directed him by the founder of the monastery. He had the
habit to make the rounds of all the monastic services, and never did he forsake
common tasks, working on a equal footing with all the brethren. But the burden
of monastic head weighed down upon the Monk Nikon. Recalling his quiet life in
the Serpukhov Visotsk monastery with the Monk Athanasii, and later with the
Monk Sergei, he gave up the governance and retired into his own cell. For six
years the monastery was guided by the Monk Savva of Storozhevsk (+ 1407, Comm.
3 December). In the year 1400 the Monk Savva founded his own monastery near
Zvenigorod, and the brethren entreated the Monk Nikon to again take over the
governance. He consented, but assigned himself a certain time each day for
silence, so as to stand alone before God.
When reports began to
spread about an invasion of the Russian land by khan Edigei (1408), the Monk
Nikon zealously prayed to God for the sparing of the monastery. In the nuance
of a dream there appeared to him the Moscow Sainted-hierarchs Peter (+ 1326,
Comm. 21 December) and Alexei (+ 1378, Comm. 12 February) together with the
Monk Sergei and said, that he should not grieve over the destruction of the
monastery, since it would not become desolate, but rather grow all the more.
The monks left the monastery, taking with them relics and cell-items, and when
they returned they saw that their beloved place had been reduced to ashes. But
the Monk Nikon did not despair, and the task of the brethren was renewed work.
First of all was built a wooden church in the Name of the MostHoly LifeCreating
Trinity and it was consecrated in the year 1411 on the day of repose of the
Monk Sergei, 25 September. The monastery was restored, and the Monk Nikon
undertook construction of a stone church over the grave of his spiritual
father, the Monk Sergei. The work-crew digging at the time for the foundations
uncovered on 5 July 1422 the undecayed relics of the Monk Sergei. Amidst
universal rejoicing they placed the relics in a new reliquary and at the
transferred-to new site a wooden church was built (now at this place is the
church in honour of the Descent of the Holy Spirit). The Monk Nikon later
erected a new stone church in the Name of the glorious God in Trinity, and in
memory and praise to his spiritual father, he transferred the holy relics into
this newly built church. For the embellishment of the temple the Monk Nikon
brought in the finest iconographers, the Monks Saint Andrei (Rublev) and Daniel
(Cherny). Then also the Monk Andrei wrote the Icon of the LifeCreating and
MostHoly Trinity, embodying in it what was revealed to the Monk Sergei. The
Monk Nikon was occupied with the construction of the Trinity church until the
end of his life. The place of his future repose together with the Monk Sergei
was revealed to him in a vision before his death. He summoned the brethren and
gave them directives. Having communed the All-Pure Body of Christ and His
Precious Blood, the Monk Nikon gave the brethren a last blessing and said:
"Let us go thither, my soul, whence it is prepared for thee to dwell; let
us proceed with joy: for Christ doth summon thee". Having made the sign of
the cross, the Monk Nikon died on 27 November 1426. He was buried near the
reliquary of the Monk Sergei. Under Sainted-hierarch Jona (1448-1461), the
priestmonk Pakhomii the Logothete wrote down the service and Life of the Monk
Nikon, and in the year 1547 there was established a generally observed
celebration to him. In the year 1548 a church in his name was built over the
grave of the Monk Nikon, and in 1623 a new one was constructed in its place, in
which the relics of the Monk Nikon rest under a crypt. In 1976 at the
Trinity-Sergeev Lavra, the 500 year anniversary of the repose of the Monk Nikon
was solemnly observed.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.