Commemorated on March 19
Innokentii of Komel'sk and Vologda was born at Moscow, and was descended
from the lineage of the Moscow princes Okhlyabinin. He became a monk in the
monastery of the Monk Kirill of Belozersk (+ 9 June 1427), and was put under
the guidance of the Monk Nil Sorsky (+ 1508, Comm. 7 May).
The Monks Innokentii
and Nil wandered through the East visiting Palestine, Constantinople, and spent
several years at the Athos monasteries. Having returned to Rus', the saints
settled not in their original Kirillo-Belozersk monastery, but within solitary
cells for monastic seclusion. Out of love for wilderness-life they then
withdrew into the impassable forest at the River Sora, some 15 versts from the
monastery. Here they erected a cross, dug out a well, and made themselves cells
separately, after the manner of the skete wilderness-monasteries. With great
toil a church was built on a marshy spot. The hermits led strict lives.
Foreseeing his own
demise, the Monk Nil sent Saint Innokentii to the River Nurma and predicted to
him: "God doth send thee there, and thy monastery shalt be one of life in
common; my wilderness monastery after my death will remain such as it was
during my life, with the brothers living separately each in his own cell".
Upon the death of the
Monk Nil, his holy disciple withdrew into the Vologda hinterland and in 1491 he
built a cell at the Rivulet Eda, which flows into the River Nurma. In a short
while disciples began to gather to him. And following the final command of his
teacher, the Monk Innokentii did not seek any donations for it.
The Monk Innokentii
toiled for thirty years at building his monastery. On the basis of the works of
the holy fathers and in particular the writings of the Monk Nil of Sorsk, he
left behind an instruction for the brethren. The Monk Innokentii bid them first
of all to avoid wrangling and disputes and asked them to preserve love for
Christ and spiritual peace. The saint forbid young and beardless monks to be
accepted and tonsured at his monastery, and he forbid entry to women at the
monastery. In departing the monastery a monk lost his right to a cell, and if
he returned, then he could occupy it only with the consent of the monastery
head and the brethren. The monk asked that a future church be consecrated in
the name of the great and holy John the Forerunner, Baptiser of the Lord, in
remembrance of the Third Finding of Saint John the Baptist's Venerable Head
(Comm. 25 May), since Saint John – is a patron for all monks and wilderness
dwellers (ultimately the monastery was called Transfiguration after its chief
The Monk Innokentii
died on 19 March 1521. In accord with his last wish he was buried in a corner
of the monastery near a marsh. Upon his grave was placed a stone, inscribed
with the year, month and day of his repose.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.