Anthony and Theodosius
July 23 (July 10 old calendar)
Saint Anthony of the Kiev-Pechora caves was born in the beginning of the 11th century in the town of Liubeche (near Chernigov) and was baptized with the name of Antippa. From an early age he was drawn to life blessed with spirituality, and following a higher indication he decided to go to the mount Athos. In one of the Athos caves he took monastic vows and started to live in a secluded cave near the monastery. This cave is still shown to visitors. When St. Anthony became spiritually experienced the Father Superior entrusted him with the task of expanding monasticism in Russia. The year was 1051 and the country had only started to turn to Christianity at the time. Anthony obeyed.
In Kiev Venerable Anthony found several monasteries founded by Greeks upon orders by the Kiev princes, but he did not join any of these monasteries. Instead, he chose to live in a 4-yard cave dug out by presbyter Ilarion. Anthony became well known in Athos as his life there was a feat of monastic asceticism; rye bread every other day and a little water was all he ate. Before long he became famous not only in Kiev, but also in other Russian cities. Many people came to ask him for spiritual guidance and blessing. Some people were willing to join him. The first one accepted was a priest called Nikon and the second to be accepted was Venerable Theodosius.
Until that time the Venerable Theodosius lived with his parents in Kursk. From his early youth he was known as a pious and righteous person. He went to church every day and read the Bible attentively, he was modest, humble and virtuous. Having learned that liturgy was sometimes not served because of the lack of communion bread, he decided to help. He bought wheat, ground it himself and brought the baked communion bread to church. His mother loved him dearly, but she did not share his aspiration, which caused him much trouble.
At one point in church he heard the Lord's words, "He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me" (Matt. 10:37). He decided to leave his mother (his father had died by that time) and his native town for Kiev and stay with the Venerable Anthony. "You can see, my child," said Anthony, "that my cave is small and uncomfortable." "The Lord himself lead me to your place," answered Theodosius, "I will obey you in everything."
When the Venerable Anthony had 12 disciples he left his cave for a nearby mountain, dug a cave for himself and lived in seclusion there. Theodosius stayed at the former place; after some time the monastery community elected him to be their Father Superior. He started to establish the rules of community life following the code of the Constantinople's Studion monastery. The main rules of his code were: all possessions of the monks were to become common property; monks were to be working all the time; the duties were assigned according to a person's abilities by the Father Superior; every work was preceded by a prayer and an elder's blessing; and confessions were to be made to the Father Superior who was a true leader of the community on the path of salvation. The Venerable Theodosius watched the life of the monks in the cells making sure that no one had any unnecessary excess and checked what everyone was doing. He would come to the cell doors even at night and if he heard a conversation of two or three monks gathered together, he would strike his staff against the door and in the morning the violators would be reprimanded. The Venerable Father himself was an example to the community of monks by his actions. He carried water, cut wood, worked as a baker, wore simple cloths and was the first to come both to Church and to work. In addition to his asceticism, the Venerable Theodosius became distinguished for his great compassion to the poor and aspiration for spiritual enlightenment. He also tried to persuade the monks to follow this example. Not far from the monastery he set up a shelter for the destitute, the blind, the lame, and the invalids. One tenth of the monastery's income was allocated to maintain that house.
In addition, every Saturday he would send a cart full of bread for the imprisoned. The indoctrination work of the Venerable Theodosius that reached us consists of two teaching bequests to people, ten ordinances to monks, two addresses to Prince Isyaslav and two prayers.
The development of the Russian Holy Church was greatly promoted by the Kiev-Pechora monastery founded by the Venerable Anthony and established by the Venerable Theodosius. Within the walls of that cloister many famous Archbishops, zealous preachers and outstanding writers were educated. The most well known prelates and monks of the Kiev-Pechora monastery are: Saint Leontius and Isaiah (Bishops of Rostov), Niphont (bishop of Novgorod), Venerable Kuksha (preacher of the Vyatka people), and writers Nestor the Chronicler and Simon.
Troparion, Tone 4
Thou didst leave the tumult of the world to follow Christ according to the Gospel;/ thou didst lead a life equal to the Angels and reach the haven of Mount Athos./ From thence with thy fathers' blessing thou didst illumine thy fatherland at Kiev,/ where thou didst lead a multitude of monks along the path to Christ and His kingdom./ Pray to Him, O Saint Anthony, that He may save our souls.
Kontakion, Tone 8
Thou didst surrender to God, having loved Him from thy childhood,/ and follow Him with all thy heart and soul, O Saint Anthony./ Thou didst despise worldly goods and live in a cave in the earth,/ fighting the good fight against the wiles of the enemy./ Having illumined the ends of the earth thou didst fly rejoicing to heaven/ where thou dost stand among the Angels before the throne of God;/ remember us who honor thee that we may cry: Rejoice, O Anthony our Father.
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