Commemorated on September 5
Athansii (Afanasii) of Bretsk was Belorussian and was born in about the
year 1597 into a pious Christian family named Philippovich. He received a
serious upbringing, and he knew the theological and historical literature, as
is evidenced in the diary of the saint, which has been preserved.
In his youthful years
Saint Athanasii for a certain while was a teacher in the houses of Polish
merchants. In the year 1627 he accepted tonsure under hegumen Joseph at the
Vilensk monastery of the Holy Spirit. The Monk Athanasii was ordained
priest-monk in the year 1632 and made head of the Duboisk (Dubovsk) monastery
near Pinsk. Saint Athanasii, with a special blessing of the Mother of God,
self-denyingly re-established Orthodoxy within the boundaries of the ancient
Russian territories that had been seized by the Polish Reche. Between the years
1638-1648 Saint Athanasii fulfilled his obedience as hegumen of the Bretsk
Simeonov monastery. The monk endured much abuse from the Uniates and illegal
persecution from the civil authorities – he thrice suffered being locked up in
prison. The saint was sent off to the authorities at Kiev to appear before a
religious tribunal, but he was acquitted, and returned again to his own
monastery. Over the course of ten years the Monk Athanasii, finding himself
amidst persons maliciously disposed towards him, led a constant struggle for
Holy Orthodoxy, – his faithfulness to which is evidenced by his sufferings.
Attempts to wear down
the spiritual endurance of the saint were to no avail. He again went to trial,
by the decision of which, for his cursing of the Unia, the monk was sentenced
to death by execution. Saint Athanasii died a martyr on the night of 4‑5 September
1648 (the Uncovering of Relics was on 20 July 1679).
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.