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Saint Sergius of Radonezh


© José Luiz Bernardes Ribeiro | CC BY-SA 4.0

Abbot (ca. 1315-1392)

His life

+ One of the most revered Russian saints, Sergius (who was named Bartholomew at his baptism) was born into a wealthy family in Rostov. Although he was not a particularly gifted student, he nevertheless learned to read well enough to study the Bible.

+ After his family was forced to flee Rostov because of political unrest, settled in Radonezh, Bartholomew realized his long-held dream of becoming a hermit.

+ With the help of his brother, Istvan, he built a hermitage a site that came to be known as Troike-Sergievskaya Lavra. There, Bartholomew experienced temptations and trials reminiscent of those faced by the Desert Fathers centuries before.

+ As often happens, a group of followers gathered around the hermit and a community. Now known as Sergius and having been clothed in the monastic habit, he agreed to serve as abbot of the new community.

+ Honored for his wisdom and personal holiness, Sergius was consulted by both church and civil leaders. He was asked to serve as Patriarch of Moscow more than once, but he refused the honor each time, preferring to live as a monk. Many miracles were attributed to his intercession, even during his life.

+ Saint Sergius resigned as abbot shortly before his death on September 25, 1392. His relics were enshrined in the monastery church, but were later removed to an “anti-religion” museum following the 1917 Russian Revolution. Sergius’ monastery was reopened in 1945 and his relics were restored to their original shrine. He was canonized by the Orthodox Church in 1449.

+ In 1940, the Holy See authorized a new liturgical calendar specifically with Russian Christians in union with Rome. Included in the calendar were the names of thirty Russian saints, twenty-one of whom, including Saint Sergius, had never been honored by the Latin Church. These saints are now included in the Roman Martyrology (the Church’s official listing of saints and beati).

For prayer and reflection

“God’s grace cannot be given without trials; after tribulation comes joy.”—Saint Sergius of Radonezh


Grant us, O Lord, that amid the uncertainties of this world we may cling with all our heart to the things of heaven, for through the Abbot blessed Sergius you have given us a model of evangelical perfection. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

(from The Roman Missal: Common of Holy Men and Women—For an Abbot)

Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.

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