The monk Arsenii of Komel'sk
Commemorated on August 24
The monk Arsenii
of Komel'sk was born in Moscow, and was descended from a family of
nobility, the Sakharusov. In his youth he took monastic vows at the
Trinity-Sergiev monastery, and he occupied himself there with the copying of
books: a Gospel is known of copied by him in the year 1506. In the years
1525-1527 the monk was hegumen at the Trinity-Sergiev monastery. He often
withdrew to the solitary Makrisch monastery. GreatPrince Vasilii IV (1505-1533)
– making a visit at the monastery at that time, was surprised to behold the
hegumen of a prosperous monastery in old clothes covered with patches. The
brethren explained that the Monk Arsenii wished to travel in the wilderness.
Setting out together with his own cell elder to the Komel'sk forest – located 50 versts from Vologda, the Monk Arsenii made a large wooden cross and with this cross on his shoulders he set out through the forest to pick out a spot for a future wilderness monastery. Coming to a marshy place through a swamp, the monk stumbled under the heavy cross and fell. An heavenly beam of light flashed upon the ascetic at this very moment and convinced him to establish it on this site. He set up the cross and built the first cell.
The local inhabitants, going therabouts to hunt wild animals, killed the cell-mate of the Monk Arsenii, and he himself was forced to withdraw into the Shilegonsk forest. There soon gathered at his new monastery several monks, and afterwards there settled at it fugitives from a Tatar incursion upon the surrounding populace. The Monk Arsenii, seeking after silence, desired to live in a more quiet spot. In the year 1530 GreatPrince Vasilii gave him a gramota (deed) for land in the Komel'sk forest at the Kokhtisha River. The monk began here to clear the forest together with his student Gerasim. By prayer the saint tamed the wild beasts. When several monks had gathered about him, he built a church in honour of the Placing of the Veil of the MostHoly Mother of God. Visiting the Shilegonsk monastery, the monk instructed the peasants, who had settled in the area of the monastery. He bid them reverently to observe feastdays and Sundays. One time when a peasant had heard him and started to work on a feastday, a wind suddenly arose scattering all his sheaves.
Having spent his life in fasting, prayer and constant work, the monk died on 24 August 1550. His Life was written soon after his death, but burned during the time of a conflagration in the Komel'sk monastery in 1596. In shortened form it was restored from the surviving manuscripts and added to with posthumous miracles by a monk of the monastery, John. An hundred years later after the death of the monk, the hegumen Joasaph built at the monastery a stone church in honour of the Placing of the Veil of the MostHoly Mother of God. Two chapels of this church show the spiritual bond of teacher and student. The left chapel was dedicated to the Monk Sergei of Radonezh, and the right – to the Monk Arsenii of Komel'sk.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.