The Monk Sava of Storozhevsk and Zvenigorod

Commemorated on January 19, December 3

      The Monk Savva of Storozhevsk and Zvenigorodsk in his early youth left the world, accepting tonsure under the Monk Sergei of Radonezh, for whom he was one of the first disciples and co-ascetics.
      The Monk Savva loved the quiet life, he shunned conversing with people and he lived in constant toil, in lamentation over the poverty of his soul and remembrance of the judgement of God. The Monk Savva was a model of simplicity and humility, and he attained to such a depth of spiritual wisdom, that "in the monastery of the Monk Sergei he was a spiritual confessor to all the brethren, a venerable starets-elder and exceedingly learned". When GreatPrince Dimitrii Donskoy, in gratitude for the victory over Mamai, built the monastery of the Uspenie-Dormition of the Mother of God at the River Dubenka, Savva became its hegumen, with the blessing of the Monk Sergei. Preserving the simple manner of his ascetic lifestyle, he ate food only of plants, wore coarse clothing and slept on the ground.
      In 1392 the brethren of the Sergiev Lavra, with the departure of its hegumen Nikon into the wilderness, besought the Monk Savva to accept being hegumen at the monastery. Here he "did well shepherd the flock entrusted him, such as he could and such as the prayers of his spiritual father Blessed Sergei did aid him". Tradition imputes to his time as hegumen the finding of a spring of water beyond the Lavra walls.
      A godson of the Monk Sergei, prince Yurii Dimitrievich Zvenigorodsky, regarded the Monk Savva with great love and esteem. He chose the Monk Savva as his spiritual father and besought him to come and bestow blessing upon all his household. The monk had hoped to return to his monastery, but the prince prevailed upon him to remain and set in place a new monastery, "in his fatherland, near Zvenigorod, where the place was called Storozh". Striving after the solitary and silent life, the Monk Savva accepted the offer of the Zvenigorod prince Yurii Dimitrievich, and with tears before an icon of the Mother of God he besought Her protection for the wilderness place. On the Storozhevsk heights, where formerly was encamped a sentinel, guarding Moscow from enemies, he set up a small wooden church of the Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God, and not far off from it made a small cell for himself. And here in the year 1399 the monk established a monastery, fondly accepting all that were come for the life of solitude. The monk toiled much at the building up of his monastery. He himself dug out a well below the hill, from which on his shoulders he carried his own water; he encircled the monastery with a wooden palisade, and above it in an hollow he dug out for himself a cell for a life of solitude.
      In 1399 the Monk Savva blessed his spiritual son, prince Yurii, to go off on a military campaign, and he predicted victory over the enemy. Through the prayers of the holy elder, the forces of the prince were granted a speedy victory. Through the efforts of the Monk Savva, a stone church of the Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God was also built.
      Saint Savva died at an advanced age on 3 December 1406.
      Veneration of the monk by the local people began immediately at his death. The miraculous curative power, issuing from the grave of the monk, and his numerous appearances, convinced everyone that Hegumen Savva "is in truth an unsetting star-radiance of the Divine light, by the shining forth of his miracles illumining all". In a letter of 1539 the Monk Savva is called a wonderworker. Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich had particular esteem for him, repeatedly going on foot to venerate at the monastery of the Monk Savva. Tradition has preserved for us a remarkable account, of how the Monk Savva had saved him from a ferocious bear.
      The Life of the Monk Savva, compiled in the XVI Century, relates how at the end of the XV Century (years 1480-1490), the saint appeared to the Savvinsk monastery hegumen Dionysii and said to him: "Dionysii! Wake up and write my face upon an icon". To the question of Dionysii, as to whom he was, came the reply: "I am Savva, the founder of this place". An old starets-elder of the monastery named Avvakum, having in his youth seen the Monk Savva, described the outward appearance of the saint. And it was precisely such as the saint appeared to the hegumen Dionysii, who fulfilled the command and wrote the icon of the Monk Savva.
      The feastday of the Monk Savva was established in the year 1547 at a Moscow Sobor-Council. On 19 January 1652 the incorrupt relics of the saint were uncovered.

1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.

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The Monk Sava of
Storozhevsk and Zvenigorod

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