The Monk Gerasim of Boldinsk
Commemorated on May 1
The Monk Gerasim
of Boldinsk, in the world Grigorii, was born in 1490 at Pereslavl'-Zalessk.
In early childhood he frequented the church of God. Having learned about the
holy life of the Monk Daniel of Pereyaslavl', the 13 year old Grigorii with
tears besought the starets-elder to let him join him. The starets accepted the
boy as a novice and in a short while gave him monastic tonsure with the name
Gerasim. The newly-made monk zealously fulfilled the deeds of fasting and
prayer, and soon he was known about in Moscow as a strict ascetic. He was
summoned to the capital together with his teacher, where he met the tsar.
Worldly fame was a burden for the ascetic and, after his 26 year stay under the
guidance of the Monk Daniel, Saint Gerasim, having received the blessing of his
starets for hermitage life, settled not far from the city of Dorogobuzha in the
Smolensk lands, in a wild forest, inhabited by snakes and wild animals. The
saint many a time was subjected to the intrusion of brigands, but meekly and
patiently he bore all their outrages and he prayed for these malefactors.
Through a particular vision, he then went over to Mount Boldina, where at a
water-spring there stood an immense oak. The local inhabitants beat him with
canes and wanted to drown him, but having taken fright, they handed him over to
the Dorogobuzha administrator, who threw him into jail for vagrancy. The Monk
Gerasim patiently endured the ridicule, he kept quiet and he prayed. During
this while there came to the administrator an imperial emissary from Moscow.
Seeing Saint Gerasim, he bowed down to him and besought his blessing, since
earlier before he had seen the saint together with the Monk Daniel in the
presence of the tsar. The administrator became terrified, and immediately he
begged forgiveness of the saint and promised to make him an enclosure
protecting him from incursions. From this time Saint Gerasim began accepting to
himself those with a desire for monastic deeds, and having sought at Moscow the
permission to build a monastery, in 1530 he raised up a church in the Name of
the Most Holy Trinity and he built cells for the gathered brethren. Besides the
Boldina monastery, the Monk Gerasim founded yet another monastery in honour of
Saint John the Forerunner at the city of Vyaz'ma, and later on in the Bryansk
forest at the River Zhizdra, a monastery in honour of the Vvedenie-Entry into
the Temple of the Most Holy Mother of God. The disciple of the Monk Gerasim,
Peter Korostelev, was made hegumen of this monastery. Under the spiritual
guidance of the Monk Gerasim were formed strict ascetics: the Hegumen Antonii
– afterwards Sainted-hierarch of Vologda, and Arkadii, a disciple of the monk,
asceticising as an hermit and buried at the Boldina monastery.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.