The Monk Paphnutii of Borovsk

Commemorated on May 1

      The Monk Paphnutii of Borovsk was born in 1394 in the village of Kudinovo, not far from Borovsk, and at Baptism he was named Parphenii. His father Ioann was the son of a baptised Tatar, a "baskak" ("tax-collector") named Martin, and his mother was named Photinia. At 20 years of age Parphenii left his parental home and in the year 1414 accepted monastic tonsure with the name Paphnutii at the Pokrov-Protection Monastery on the Heights, under its head, Markell (i.e. Marcellus). The Monk Paphnutii asceticised for many years at the monastery. When the head of the monastery died, the brethren chose him as hegumen. Sainted Photii, Metropolitan of Kiev, ordained him to the priestly dignity (in about the year 1426). The monk spent thirty years at the Pokrov monastery, wherein he was both the head and the clergy-starets (elder). At 51 years of age he fell grievously ill, gave up being the hegumen and took on the great-schema. After a restoration to health on the day of the holy GreatMartyr George the Victory-Bearer, 23 April 1444, he withdrew from the monastery and settled with one monk on the left bank of the River Protva, at the confluence into it of the River Ister'ma. Soon brethren began to gather to him at this new place. The number of the monks grew quickly. A new stone church was built in place of the former wooden one, in honour of the Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God. In the icon-frescoes there took part the finest iconographer of those times, Dionysii and his assistants. The Monk Paphnutii gave example to the brethren, leading a strict life: his cell was the poorest of all, and from food he took the worst. On Mondays and Fridays he did not eat at all, and on Wednesdays he partook only of dry foods. From the overall tasks the monk chose the most difficult: he chopped and carried fire-wood, dug up and cultivated the garden, and at the same time arrived first for church services.
      The Monk Paphnutii earned the deep respect and love not only of the brethren of his own monastery, but also of other monasteries. Through the Providence of God there was guided to the monastery to the monk a twenty year old youth, Ioann Sanin. Having put him to the test, the monk tonsured him into monasticism with the name Joseph. Later on the Monk Joseph of Volotsk firmly defended the purity of the Orthodox faith and entered into struggle against the heresy of the Judaisers, condemned at a Council of 1504. The Monk Paphnutii blessed the young man in his exploits.
      A week before his death the monk foretold his end. Having made a final prayer and blessing of the brethren, he expired to God on 1 May 1477. The Monk Paphnutii was a follower of the Monk Sergei, Hegumen of Radonezh.

1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.

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The Monk Paphnutii
of Borovsk

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