Commemorated on June 9
The Monk Kirill
(Cyril), Hegumen of Beloezersk, (in the world Kosma) was born in Moscow of
pious parents. In his youthful years he was left an orphan and lived with his
kinsman, the boyar (nobleman) Timofei Vasil'evich Vel'yaminov, in the
surroundings of the court of the GreatPrince Dimitrii Donskoi (1363-1389).
Secular life bored the youth. At the request of the Monk Stephan of Makhrisch
(+ 1406, Comm. 14 July), Kosma was dismissed to the Simonov monastery,
where he took vows under Saint Theodore (+ 1395, Comm. 28 November) – with the
name Kirill. The Monk Kirill fulfilled his monastic obediences under the
guidance of the starets (elder) Michael, who afterwards was Bishop of Smolensk.
By night the elder read the Psalter, and the Monk Kirill bowed making poklons,
but at the first clang of the bell he went to matins. He asked the elder
permission to partake of food every 2nd or 3rd day, but the experienced elder
did not allow this, but blessed him rather to eat with the brethren, only not
to the extent of being full. The Monk Kirill carried out his obedience in the
bread-bakery: he carried water, chopped firewood, and distributed bread. When
the Monk Sergei of Radonezh came to the Simonov monastery, he then before any
others visited and affectionately conversed with the Monk Kirill. They
transferred the Monk Kirill from the bread-bakery to the kitchen, and the saint
told himself, gazing at the burning fire: "Beware, Kirill, lest thou fall
into the fire eternal". The Monk Kirill toiled for nine years in the
kitchen and he attained to such tender emotion, that he was not able to eat
bread without tears, blessing the Lord. Fleeing the glory of man, the monk at
times began to be a fool-for-Christ. In punishment for the transgressing of
propriety, the monastery head punished him on bread and water for 40 days; the
Monk Kirill underwent this punishment with joy. But the saint could not conceal
his spirituality, and the experienced elders understood him and against his
will they compelled him to accept the dignity of priest-monk. During free time
from services, the Monk Kirill took himself a turn as novice and occupied
himself with heavy work. When Saint Theodore was ordained archbishop of Rostov,
the brethren in 1390 chose the Monk Kirill as archimandrite of the monastery.
Rich and important
people began to visit the monk to hear his guidance. This disturbed the humble
spirit of the saint, and he despite the entreaty of the brethren would not
remain head of the monastery, but rather secluded himself in his former cell.
But even here frequent visitors troubled the monk, and he crossed over to old
Simonovo. The soul of the Monk Kirill yearned for quietude, and he prayed the
Mother of God to show him a place, conducive for salvation. One time at night,
reading as always an akathist before the Hodigetria icon of the Mother of God,
he heard a voice: "Go to Beloozero (White Lake), there is the place for
At the Beloezero
lakeside, then desolate and sparsely populated, he long went in search of the
place, which in the vision was destined for his dwelling. In the surroundings
of Mount Myaura at Siversk Lake, he together with his companion the Monk
Pherapont (Comm. 27 May), set up a cross and dug up the ground.
The Monk Pherapont
soon set off for another place, and the Monk Kirill pursued asceticism in his
underground cell not even one year in solitude. One time Saint Kirill, troubled
by a strange dream, lay down to sleep under a pine tree, but just hardly as he
closed his eyes, he heard a voice: "Run, Kirill!" The Monk Kirill
only just managed to jump away, as the pine tree came crashing down. From this
pine tree the ascetic made a cross. Another time the Monk Kirill nearly
perished from flames and smoke when it cleared away the forest, but God
preserved His saint. A certain peasant attempted to burn down the cell of the
monk, but as much as he tried, he did not succeed. Then having repented with
tears, he confessed his sin to the Monk Kirill, who vowed him into monasticism.
To the monk there
came from Simonov monastery the monks Zevedei and Dionysii, beloved by him, and
then Nathanael, afterwards steward of the monastery. Many began to come to the
monk and asked to be deemed worthy of monasticism. The holy elder perceived, that
his time of silence was ended. In the year 1397 he constructed a temple in
honour of the Uspenie (Dormition or Repose) of the Mother of God.
When the number of
brethren had multiplied, the monk gave for the monastery an ustav (rule) of
community-life, which he sanctified by the example of his own life. Thus, in
church no one should make conversation, no one ought to leave from it before
the end of services; and to the Gospel they came according to the eldest. At
refectory meals they sat each at their own place, and in the refectory there
was silence. From the refectory each went quietly to his own cell. No one was
able to receive either letters or gifts, without having shown them to the Monk
Kirill; without his blessing they did not write a letter. Money was kept in the
monastery treasury, nor did anyone possess anything personal. Even to drink
water they went to the refectory. The cells were not locked, and in them,
besides icons and books, nothing was kept. In the final years of the Monk
Kirill's life, the boyar (nobleman) Roman decided to gift the monastery with a
village and sent off the deed of gift. The Monk Kirill discerned, that if the
monastery came to possess a village, then for the brethren it would prompt
concerns about the land, settlements would emerge to shatter the monastic
quietude, and so he refused the gift.
The Lord rewarded His
saint with the gift of perspicacity and healing. A certain Feodor, having
entered into the monastery out of love for the monk, and then so hated him,
that he could not look at the saint, felt impelled to leave the monastery. He
approached the cell of the Monk Kirill and, glancing at his grey hair, from
shame he was not able to say a word. The monk said to him: "Sorrow not, my
brother, for all are mistaken about me; thou alone knowest the truth and all my
unworthiness; I am actually a worthless sinner". Then the Monk Kirill
blessed Feodor, and added that he should no more be troubled by such thought.
From that time Feodor lived at peace in the monastery.
One time there was no
wine for Divine Liturgy, and the sexton told the saint about this. The Monk Kirill
gave commands to bring him the empty vessel, which he opened full of wine.
During a time of famine the Monk Kirill distributed bread to all the needy, and
he did not stop, despite that the normal reserves hardly sufficed for the
The monk tamed a
storm on the lake, which threatened the fishermen, and he predicted that none
of the brethren would die until his end, despite that a plague would rage, and
afterwards many would follow after him.
The monk did his
final Divine-services on the day of the Holy Trinity. Having giving final
instructions to the brethren to preserve love amongst themselves, the Monk
Kirill blessedly reposed in the 90th year of his life on 9 June 1427 – on the
same-name ("tezoimennie") day of memory with him of Saint Cyril,
Archbishop of Alexandria. In the first year after the death of the monk – from
the 53 brethren 30 men died. The monk often appeared to the remaining in dreams
with advice and guidance.
The Monk Kirill loved
spiritual enlightenment and he brought this love to his disciples. Among the
works at the monastery in 1635 there were numbered more than two-thousand
books, among them sixteen "of the Wonderworker Kirill". Three letters
of the monk to Russian princes, existing down to our time, reveal remarkable
specimens of his spiritual instruction and guidance, love, love of peace and
veneration of the monk began not later than 1447-1448. The Life of Saint Kirill
was written, commissioned by Metropolitan Theodosii and GreatPrince Vasilii
Vasil'evich, by the priest-monk Pakhomii the Logothete, who dwelt at the
Kirillov monastery in 1462 and met with many of the eye-witnesses and disciples
of the Monk Kirill, in whose number was also the Monk Martinian (Comm. 12
January), at that time guiding the Ferapontov monastery.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.