The Monk Savva of Krypetsk

Commemorated on August 28

      The Monk Savva of Krypetsk was tonsured at Athos, and from there he came to Pskov. He began to asceticise on Mount Snetna at the Mother of God monastery, near Pskov, and thereafter he went off to a more remote spot along the River Tolva, at the monastery of the Monk Evphrosyn (Comm. 15 May). Finally, he withdrew for complete solitude to the Krypetsk wilderness, 15 versts from the Tolva, and he settled alone in a small cave in the impenetrable forest. For food the hermit had bread and water, and on Wednesdays and Fridays he ate nothing. Living the life of an hermit he was much assailed by unclean spirits, but always he prevailed over them through prayer. And after several years in the solitary life, those zealous for wilderness life began to gather round the Monk Savva. They besought him to form a monastery and build a church, in honour of the Apostle John the Theologian. The monk refused to be hegumen of the monastery and entrusted its guidance to the monk Kassian. Many came out from Pskov to the austere starets-elder, and he healed and admonished them, but never did he accept gifts from them.
      One time the Pskov prince Yaroslav Vasil'evich Obolensky, who frequently visited at the monastery, made journey with his sick wife to the saint. The Monk Savva sent off to him a message saying: "The starets, the sinner Savva, telleth thee, prince, enter not into the monastery with the princess; such is our rule here – women are not to enter the monastery; if thou transgress this fatherly command, thy princess wilt not receive healing". The prince asked forgiveness, since it was through ignorance that he was on the point of transgressing the rule. The Monk Savva came out through the monastery gates together with the brethren and there served a molieben. The princess was healed. Through the mediation of the prince, in 1487 Pskov received a grammota-deed to the lands for the monastery.
      The monk taught layfolk to watch over their purity, reminding them about the injunction of the Apostle against the defilers of the body. He told the rich and the judges, not to make their living at the expense of the poor and to preserve rightful truth. He frequently reminded everyone to avoid quarrels and enmity, to preserve love and peace and to overlook the faults of others by courtesy, even as they in turn have forgiven us. At the monastery from the very beginning there had been introduced a strict life-in-common. And then, when sufficient brethren and means had been gathered, there was nothing in the cell of the monk save for two icons, his monk's garb and the cot, upon which he lay down to take his rest. By suchlike poverty he taught the brethren. The monk commanded them to work the land with their own hands. He said: "For how can we call the ancient ascetics our fathers, when we live not by their manner of life, how then can we be accounted their children? They were homeless and poor, they spent their time in caves and in the wilderness and for the Lord with all their strength they subjected their flesh to spirit. And they knew respite neither by day, nor by night. We should love the good Lord, children, not by sounds only nor by our manner of attire for showing off our love for Him, but by deeds: by love one for another, by tears, by fasting, by every manner of temperance, just as the ancient fathers did this".
      The grateful prince built through the fens and the swamps a bridge to the monastery 1400 sazhen [1 sazhen = 7 feet] in length. After his death (+ 28 August 1495), the Monk Savva did not forsake the monastery, and many a time came to its defense. At night one time robbers approached the monastery, but they then caught sight of an august elder, who held in hand a staff and threateningly ordered them to repent. In the morning they learned that there was no suchlike elder at the monastery, and they realised, that this had been the Monk Savva himself. The leader of the robbers made his repentance to the hegumen and remained to live at the monastery.
      The Monk Savva was tall of stature, with a beard grey as snow, roundish and thick and not very long. In suchlike visage he appeared in the mid-XVI Century to the monk Isaiah, in showing him where to find his undecayed relics. Thereafter, in the year 1555, at the request of the Krypetsk brethren, the Pskov priest Vasilii compiled the life of the Monk Savva, and the feastday to him was established.

© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.