The Holy Nobleborn Prince Dovmont (Domant) of Pskov
Commemorated on May 20
The Holy Nobleborn Prince Dovmont (Domant) of Pskov, prince of Nal'shinaisk (Nal'shensk), was a native of Lithuania, and at first he zealously professed paganism. In 1265, escaping from internecine strife amongst the Lithuanian princes, he was forced to flee Lithuania and with 300 families he arrived in Pskov. The land of Pskov became his second native-country. Here, in the expression of the chronicler, "the grace of God was breathed upon him", when with all his retainers he accepted Holy Baptism with the name Timothei (Timophei) and was bestown the great gifts of the Lord. Within a year's time, the people of Pskov chose him as their prince for his bravery and his true Christian virtues. Over the course of 33 years he ruled the city and was the sole prince in all the history of Pskov who died, having lived for so long in peace and in harmony with the Pskov veche (city-council). He was just and strict in pursuing justice for others, he gave alms generously, took in the poor and strangers, piously he observed the church feasts, he was a patron for the churches and monasteries and he himself founded a monastery in honour of the Nativity of the MostHoly Mother of God. After his marriage to the daughter of GreatPrince Dimitrii, grandson of holy Prince Alexander Nevsky (Comm. 23 November and 30 August), he became related to the Russian great-princely lineage. Prince Dovmont, just like Saint Alexander Nevsky, was a glorious defender of the Russian Land. The prime importance of Prince Dovmont as a military leader and activist for the realm consists in this, that over the course of many years he firmly defended the north-west boundaries of the Russian realm from hostile incursions.
In 1268, Prince Dovmont was one of the heroes of the historic battle before Rakovor, where Russian forces gained the victory over the Danish and German armies. Before each battle, Saint Dovmont went into church, set down his sword at the steps of the holy altar and accepted blessing from the priest, who girded on the sword for him.
Saint Dovmont made the Pskov fortress impregnable. In memory of the glorious defender of the city, a stone protective wall, raised up by the holy prince alongside the Krom at the end of the XIII Century, was named the Dovmontov, and the territory enclosed by the wall, to the present say is called Dovmontov town. The "House of the Holy Trinity" of the saintly defender was yet another pious matter: in gratitude to the Lord in Whose Name he had gained victory unharmed, holy Prince Dovmont alongside the Pskov Kremlin erected a temple in honour of the feastday, on which he won the victory. Other inhabitants of Pskov also build churches there in fulfilling of vows. The not overly large territory of present day Dovmontov town was completely covered with churches (the first temple in honour of Saint Dovmont-Timothei was built in Dovmontov town in 1574).
The brave warrior-prince gained his final victory on 5 March 1299 on the banks of the River Velika, where with a small company he defeated a large German army. Meanwhile the Livonian Knights unexpectedly invaded the suburbs of Pskov, they seized the nigh to the city Snetnogorsk and Mirozhsk monasteries and burned them, cruelly murdering the inhabitants. They killed the founder of the Snetnogorsk monastery, the Monk Joasaph, together with 17 monks, and also the Monk Vasilii, Hegumen of Murozhsk (Comm. 4 March). Holy Prince Dovmont, not waiting to gather up a large Pskov force, went to engage the enemy with his retainers and he expelled the sacrilegious defilers from the bounds of the Russian Land.
Several months later, holy Prince Dovmont-Timothei died and was buried in the Trinity cathedral of Pskov. The chronicler relates, that "there was then great sadness in Pleskov for the men and woman and small children on account of their good lord noble Prince Timothei". The Pskov people remembered, how the holy prince had concerned himself over them during peaceful times and in particular, when the city was threatened by danger, how he led them into battle with the words: "Good men of Pskov! Whoso of you is old, that one is my father, whoso is young, that one is my brother. Stand fast for the Holy Trinity!"
Soon after the death of the prince there began the veneration of him as an holy intercessor before God, prayerfully guarding the land from enemies and misfortune. More than once after death did the holy prince defend Pskov. Thus, in the year 1480, when more than an hundred thousand Germans besieged the city, he appeared in a dream to a certain citizen and said: "Take my grave garb (cover), carry it three times around the city with a cross and fear not". The people of Pskov fulfilled his instructions and the Germans departed from the city. A service was established to the holy prince after this miraculous deliverance from enemies. Alongside with the relics of the saint, there was put up his battle sword (at the present time the sword is preserved at the Pskov historico-artistic and architectural preservation museum), which was thereafter handed to Pskov princes upon their elevation to the princely throne.
Holy Prince Dovmont-Timothei and his spouse, later to be the Schema-Monastic Nun Martha (+ 1300, Comm. 8 November), were granted the special honour to be depicted upon the wonderworking Murozhsk Icon of the Mother of God (Comm. 24 September): "Thou hast bestown blessing unto the all-pure image of Thine icon, O Mother of God, inscribed of visage the likeness of our in battle steadfast intercessor prince Dovmont with his pious spouse" (Sedalion of Service to holy Prince Dovmont-Timothei). During an appearance of the Mother of God to the starets-elder Dorothei (Dorophei) at the time of a siege of Pskov by the Polish on 27 August 1581, holy Prince Dovmont-Timothei was among the chosen of God, accompanying the Heavenly Protectress of Pskov (the related account about the Pskovo-Pokrov Icon of the Mother of God is located under 1 October).
The relics of holy Prince Dovmont-Timothei rest in the Pskov cathedral of the Life-Originating Trinity.
The holy Princes Vsevolod and Dovmont more than once aided Russian armies in defense of the western borders of the Fatherland. And then the hour struck, when with their sacred intrepidness they were dispatched by the Valiant Leader of the heavenly Hosts to rise up in defense of the eastern frontiers.
In the year 1640 the great national movement to the East – "the meeting of the sun" – resulted in the appearance of Russian explorers at the mouth of the Amur River and the Pacific Ocean. Rus' on these frontiers collided with pagan China. The bulwark if Orthodoxy became the Russian fortress of Albazin, famed by the wonderworking Albazinsk Icon of the Mother of God (Comm. 9 March) and the heroic "Albazinsk defense" (1685-1686).
...Summer of the year 1679, during the Peter Lent, a company of cossacks with Gavril Florov set out from Albazin on exploration in the Zea River valley. For three years the cossacks did patrol duty on the Zea, they made the rounds of the surrounding settlements, the brought under Russian rule the Tungus settlers, and they established winter quarters and a stockade. One time, cossack riders encountered in the hills two horsemen on white horses, arrayed in armour and armed with bows and swords. These were Saints Vsevolod and Dovmont. Having entered into conversation with the cossacks and learning that they were from Albazin, the holy warrior-princes predicted soon afterwards the approach of Chinese armies upon the Amur, with a difficult defense but ultimate triumph of Russian arms. "And again the Chinese wilt come, and enter into a great battle, and in these struggles we shalt aid the Russian people. And the Chinese wilt not trouble the city".
Several times during 1684-1686 the horde of Chinese advanced towards Albazin, but did not take the city. By the miraculous help of the Albazinsk Icon of the Mother of God and the holy Princes Vsevolod and Dovmont of Pskov, the enemy onslaughts were rendered powerless against the Far-Eastern Orthodox fortress.
"The Account about the Miracles of Holy Nobleborn Princes Vsevolod and Dovmont" was written by Gavril Florov at Yakutsk on 23 October 1689. The fealty of God's holy retinue did not end. New generations arise to change the face of the earth, but steadfast in sacred patrol of their fatherland stand the Russian warrior-defenders – Saints Vsevolod and Dovmont.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.