The Monk Makarii of Zhabynsk, Wonderworker of Belevsk

Commemorated on September 22 and January 22

      The Monk Makarii of Zhabynsk, Wonderworker of Belevsk, was born in the year 1539. In his early years he was monasticised with the name Onuphrii, and in the year 1585 he founded the Zhabynsk Vvedensk (Entry of Mother of God into the Temple) monastery near the River Oka, not far from the city of Belev. In 1615 the monastery was completely destroyed by Polish soldiers under the command of Lisovski. Returning to the charred remains, the monk began to restore the monastery. He again gathered the brethren, and in place of the wooden one there was built a stone church in honour of the Vvedenie/Entry of the Most Holy Mother of God into the Jerusalem Temple (Comm. 21 November), with a bell-tower at the gates. The monk spent his life in austere monastic effort, suffering cold, heat, hunger and thirst, as the monastery accounts relate. He often withdrew into the thick of the forest, where he prayed to God in solitude. One time when he was going along the forest pathway, he heard a faint moaning. He looked around and saw reclining against a tree-trunk a napping Polishman, who in his weariness was resting. Beside him was rolled up his sabre. He had strayed from his detachment and had become lost in the forest. In a barely audible voice this enemy, who quite possibly had been one of the destroyers of the monastery, asked for a drink of water. Love and sympathy surged up within the monk. With a prayer to the Lord he struck his staff about in the ground, and there gushed forth a fresh spring of water, and he gave the dying man a drink.
      When the monastery had been restored both in its outward and inward life, the Monk Onuphrii withdrew from the general monastic life, and having entrusted the guidance of the brethren to one of his disciples, he took the Schema with the name Makarii. For the place of his solitude he choose a spot along the upper tributary of the River Zhabynka "the treasured Zhabynets", about one verst separating the mouth of the tributary and the banks of the River Oka.
      The schemamonk efforts of the Monk Makarii were concealed not only from the world, but also from his beloved brethren. He died in 1623 at age 84, at the night hour when the roosters start crowing, and he was buried on 22 January, the day in memory of the Disciple Timothy, opposite the gates of the monastery, where afterwards was built a church in his name.
      In the Iconographic Originals was preserved a description of the Monk Makarii in his last years: he was grayed with a small beard, and atop the monastic ryasa he wore the schema garb. Veneration of the Monk Makarii was established at the end XVII beginning XVIII Centuries. His icons were written; by tradition, his relics rested uncovered, but already in 1721 they were beneathe a crypt. In the XVIII Century the monastery became desolate. The memory about his deeds and miracles was so totally forgotten, that when during the construction of the Nikol'sk church in 1816 the undecayed relics of the monastery founder were uncovered, they began to serve a general panikhida over them. The restoration of the memory of the Monk Makarii of Belevsk is connected with the name of hegumen Jona, who was born on 22 January, the day of memory of the Monk Makarii, and who began his own monastic journey at the Optina monastery located not far from the Zhabynsk monastery. In 1875 hegumen Jona became head of the Zhabynsk monastery. His request for the restoration of the memory of the Monk Makarii was strengthened by the petition of the Belevsk people, who through the centuries had preserved faith in the sanctity of the saint. On 22 January 1888, after the long interruption, there was again made solemn veneration of the Monk Makarii of Zhabynsk. In 1889, at the place of burial of the saint, was built a church in his name. Hegumen Jona, who at that time lived peacefully at the monastery and actually participated in the construction, decided that together with the construction work, the holy relics of the Monk Makarii would be uncovered. When everything was on the point of readiness, the Monk Makarii appeared to both participants in a dream and strictly warned them that they should not proceed with their projected deed, or else there would be punishment. The memory of this appearance was reverently preserved among the monks of the monastery. A Service was compiled to the saint. The memory of the Monk Makarii of Zhabynsk is venerated, besides 22 January, also on 22 September.

1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.

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The Monk Makarii
of Zhabynsk, Wonderworker of Belevsk

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