St. Anthony of Pechersk

XI pageKyivan RusPrincely times

Anthony of Pechersk (baptismal name Antipas; ca 983, town of Liubech, now the settlement of Ripky District, Chernihiv oblast – 10.07.1073) – saint, clergyman, founder of the Kyiv-Pechersk Monastery.

According to the Kyiv-Pechersk Paterikon, St. Anthony was born in a newly-converted peasant family distinguished by great piety. Seeking after peace of mind, the youth dug a cave in the northwestern outskirts of Chernihiv in the Boyaryni Hory area, where be prayed in seclusion. From this cave the history of St. Anthony’s Monastery began. Soon he went to Mount Athos, the centre of Orthodox monasticism. There lived hermits who reached the inner harmony by fastening and praying. In one of the Athos cloisters Antipas took monastic vows and got the name of Anthony. During his ascetic feats on Mount Athos he earned prestige and respect with the monks who advised him to return home to carry God’s Word to people.

In 1013 Anthony came to Kyiv. He visited several cloisters but chose none and settled in a cave near the village of Berestove, in Kyiv suburbs. After the death of Grand Prince Volodymyr the Great, when the struggle for power began, Anthony left his abode and again went to Athos. He returned only when Prince Yaroslav the Wise got the throne and Hilarion, the first from local monks, was elected the Metropolitan. In 1051 he again settled in a cave. The fame of the ascetic monk spread through Kyiv and entire Rus. Devotees and followers came to Anthony, seeking to attain moral and religious perfection through praying and fastening.

Tired of a great number of visitors and desiring seclusion, Anthony moved to the nearby mount and dug a new cave for himself. With time, new hermits settled nearby and their number grew. At Anthony’s request the Grand Prince Iziaslav gave the mount in which the caves were located to the monastery. There with the blessing of Anthony the Dormition Church was built of wood and some cells and the area was palisaded. Thus the Kyiv-Pechersk Monastery was founded and. began to live according to the Athonite monastic tradition.

In 1069, during the uprising of Kyivites against Prince Iziaslav, Anthony moved to Chernihiv. He chose the Boldyni Hills to build there a new cave monastery. With the return of Prince Iziaslav Yaroslavych on the Kyiv throne, Anthony again came to Kyiv. He spent his last years in the Pechersk Monastery he founded, where in 1073 began to build the Dormition Cathedral of stone.

The Reverend Anthony died being almost 90. His relics rest in the cave where he performed his monastic feat in fasting and praying and which bears his name. And the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra has become the sanctuary of the Orthodox Church, being a place of pilgrimage for almost a thousand years. The Reverend Anthony was canonized at the turn of the 14 th c.