NobleBorn Prince Daniel of Moscow
Commemorated on August 30, March 4
Prince Daniel (Daniil) of Moscow was born at Vladimir in the year 1261. He
was the fourth son of Saint Alexander Nevsky (Comm. 30 August and
23 November) and Righteous Vassa. Two years after birth he lost his
father. The date of his mother's repose is not indicated in the chronicles; it
is known only, that she was buried in the church in honour of the Nativity of
Christ at the Vladimir Uspenie monastery (the Princess monastery), and the
people in the surroundings venerated her as "Righteous"
In 1272 holy Prince Daniel received as his allotted portion the city of Moscow with its adjacent lands. The holy prince built on the banks of the River Moskva (Moscow) a church (and alongside it a monastery) in honour of his same-name patron saint, the Monk Daniel the Pillar-Dweller (Comm. 11 December). The Moscow principality was during this period small and unobtrusive. While growing up, holy Prince Daniel strengthened and expanded it, not in manners unjust or coercive, but instead benevolent and peace-loving. In Rus' it was a time of unrest. Fratricidal strife amongst the appanage princes was rife. And often, thanks to holy Prince Daniel, and his incessant striving for unity and peace in the Russian Land, bloodshed was averted. In 1293 his brother, the Great-prince Alexander Alexandrovich, together with Tatars summoned from the Horde and headed by Diuden ("the Diudenev Host"), laid waste to Russian cities: Murom, Suzdal', Kolomna, Dmitrov, Mozhaisk, Tver'. Prince Daniel decided to adjoin them to Moscow, to save their people from perishing. There was not the strength for resistance. Together with his people, the prince braced himself for terrible destruction and pillaging. Standing up for his rights, Saint Daniel was compelled to come out against his brother near a place, called Yur'evo Tolchische ("Yur'evo Threshing-Mill"), but here also the yearning for peace won out in him, and bloodshed was averted.
In 1300, when the Ryazan prince Konstantin Romanovich, having summoned Tatars to his aid, was occupied in secret preparations for a sudden assault on the lands of the Moscow principality, Prince Daniel went with an army to Ryazan, and beating the enemy, he took captive Konstantin and destroyed a multitude of Tatars. This was a first victory over the Tatars, though not a tremendous victory, but it was noteworthy nonetheless – as a first push towards freedom. Having beaten the Ryazan prince and scattered his confederates the Tatars, holy Prince Daniel did not take advantage of his victory to seize foreign lands or take booty, as was the accepted custom during these times, but rather he displayed an example of true non-covetousness, love and fraternity. The holy prince never resorted to arms to seize the lands of others, nor did he ever snatch away the property of other princes either by force or by treachery. And for this the Lord saw fit to expand the boundaries of his princely realm. Ioann Dimitrievich, prince of Pereslavl'-Zalessk, a nephew of Daniel, was gentle and pious and benevolent towards the poor, and he esteemed and loved his uncle; dying childless in 1302, he bequeathed his principality to Saint Daniel. The Pereslavlsk lands together with Dmitrov were, after Rostov, foremost in number of inhabitants, with corresponding fortification befitting a major city. Pereslavl'-Zalessk was well protected on all sides. But the holy prince remained faithful to Moscow and did not transfer the capital of his princedom to the stronger and more significant seat of the Pereslavl' of this period. This annexation moved Moscow up to be numbered as the most significant principality. And here was set in place the principle of the unification of the Russian Land into a single powerful realm.
How wondrous over the expanse of ages was clearly manifest the Providential Will of God concerning the Russian Land and its destiny!
Grateful in remembrance of the constant Blessing of the Hodegetria ("Way-Guide Mother of God) both in his personal life, and also in the life of the Russian realm, Saint Daniel's father – Saint Alexander Nevsky, had expressed it in the words: "God is not in might, but in right!".
In 1303 Saint Daniel fell seriously ill. He assumed the monastic great-schema and commanded that he be buried at the Danilov monastery. Through deep humility he wanted to be buried not within the church, but in the common monastery cemetery. The holy prince died on 4 March.
Within the passage of less than 30 years after the repose of holy Prince Daniel, the Danilov monastery founded by him was transformed into the Moscow Kremlin, the church was transformed into a parish church, and the cemetery became non-monastic. During the time of Great-prince Ivan III (1462-1505), the Monk-prince Daniel gave reminders of himself to his forgetful descendents. As a stranger he appeared to a youth attendant on the great-prince and said: "Be not afraid of me – I was a Christian and the master of this place, my name is Daniel Prince of Moscow, and by the will of God I am here. Tell about me to Great-prince Ioann (Ivan) saying: thou delightest thyself while yet having forgotten me, but God hath not forgotten me". And after this it was that the great-prince established the singing of cathedral panikhidas for his ancestral princes. During the time tsar Ivan the Terrible, at the grave of Saint Daniel was healed the dying son of a barge merchant. The tsar, struck by the miracle, renovated the ancient Danilov monastery and established a yearly church procession, made by the metropolitan to the place of burial of the holy prince, serving there a panikhida.
In 1652 holy Monk-prince Daniel was glorified with the uncovering of his incorrupt relics, which on 30 August were transferred to the church in honour of the Holy Fathers of the Seventh OEcumenical Council.
The holy relics were placed in a reliquary "to the glorifying of the Holy Trinity and for the healing of the infirm". The Moscow metropolitan Platon (+ 1812), in the Vita of the holy prince compiled by him, writes: "This original founder laid the foundation of present-day majestic Moscow, going about this with quiet steps upon a small foot-path. And thus as with any edifice, built not with extreme haste but the rather instead with great artifice and skill, doth receive a particular solidity and doth stand indestructible for a long time; and just as a tall tree growing for many a century, and having started first of all with a small sprout, and thickeneth little by little, with its branches spreading about far around, so also was it needful for this city to grow from the small, but solid root, in order that its first glimmer not beshadow the eyes of the envious, and that initially it not be disturbed or felled early on, but rather grow up to its true height. Thus did this founder prepare the great city given him; though small, but shining uninterrupted by any wafting of the wind, he did bequeathe the great glory of its rise to his son Great-prince Ioann (Ivan) Danilovich, called Kalita".
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.