The Monk Antonii of Siisk
Commemorated on December 7
The Monk Antonii of Siisk, in the world Andrei, was born into a family of rich farmers in the village of Kekhta near the North Dvina river. In childhood he received a fine education, read much and learned iconography. Bereaved of his parents, Andrei set off to Novgorod and for five years worked for a boyar (nobleman) there. He later married, but his wife died after a year. Then Andrei decided to dedicate himself to monasticism. He distributed his goods to the poor and as a wanderer came to the Pakhomiev wilderness-monastery at the River Kena. The Monk Pakhomii gave him monastic vows with the name Antonii. Soon they had him ordained to the dignity of priest-monk, and the monk by himself – with the blessing of the hegumen, made the Divine-services. He went out together with the other monks of the monastery to work for the monastic needs in common. Out of love for solitude the Monk Antonii eventually left the Pakhomiev wilderness, – having chosen from the monastic brethren two companions, and he settled upon Mikhailov island, on the one side washed by the River Sii, and on the other, by encircling lakes. In this harsh frontier within the dense thickets a chapel was built by Antonii in 1520. But to clear the forest required difficult work, and the companions of Antonii began to grumble against him. And just then quite unexpectedly an unknown man began to furnish them the means of subsistence, offering even money for good measure. The Siisk monastery became reknown, and inhabitants of surrounding villages often visited it. And again the Monk Antonii, taking one disciple, withdrew to a still more remote place on Lake Palun. There, in a solitary cell, he dwelt for three years. When the hegumen Theoktist refused further to guide the Siisk monastery, the brethren tried to persuade the Monk Antonii to return to them. He finally acceded to the request of the monks, again became hegumen and piously guided the monastery until his death in the year 1556, when he was 79 years old.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.