The Monk Nikon, Hegumen of Radonezh

Commemorated on November 17

      The Monk Nikon, Hegumen of Radonezh, a close student and successor of the Monk Sergei of Radonezh (+ 1392, Comm. 25 September and 5 July), was born at Yur'ev-Pol'sk. Having heard of the angelic life of the Radonezh Wonderworker, the lad came to the Monk Sergei and requested to take vows into the angelic form. The Monk Sergei discerned the purity and prudence of the lad and gave him a testing he sent him to his disciple Athanasii the Eminent (+ post 1401, Comm. 12 September). But the Monk Athanasii would not accept him right away. Only after seeing the persistence of the lad did he vow him into the monastic form. The Monk Nikon in living with him worked at prayer, studied Holy Scripture and persevered in virtue and purity. When he reached the age of maturity, he was ordained to the dignity of priest. After a certain while the Monk Athanasii gave him blessing to go see the Monk Sergei. The Monk Sergei, joyfully catching sight of him, said: "It is fine that thou art come, my child Nikon" and happily received him. He gave orders for the Monk Nikon to serve the brethren. The disciple passed whole days at monastic matters, and nights in prayerful talks with God. The Monk Sergei was comforted by his life. Having received a special insight concerning him, the Monk Sergei bid his disciple to dwell with him in his own cell, so that he might share in spiritual attainment. He fondly instructed him and explained much about the essence of spiritual life. The Monk Sergei at first assigned the Monk Nikon to the duty of assisting the monastery head, but six months before his repose, when he had committed himself to silence, he appointed the disciple as his successor.
      After the death of the Monk Sergei (+ 25 September 1392), he attentively attended to everything that was directed him by the founder of the monastery. He had the habit to make the rounds of all the monastic services, and never did he forsake common tasks, working on a equal footing with all the brethren. But the burden of monastic head weighed down upon the Monk Nikon. Recalling his quiet life in the Serpukhov Visotsk monastery with the Monk Athanasii, and later with the Monk Sergei, he gave up the governance and retired into his own cell. For six years the monastery was guided by the Monk Savva of Storozhevsk (+ 1407, Comm. 3 December). In the year 1400 the Monk Savva founded his own monastery near Zvenigorod, and the brethren entreated the Monk Nikon to again take over the governance. He consented, but assigned himself a certain time each day for silence, so as to stand alone before God.
      When reports began to spread about an invasion of the Russian land by khan Edigei (1408), the Monk Nikon zealously prayed to God for the sparing of the monastery. In the nuance of a dream there appeared to him the Moscow Sainted-hierarchs Peter (+ 1326, Comm. 21 December) and Alexei (+ 1378, Comm. 12 February) together with the Monk Sergei and said, that he should not grieve over the destruction of the monastery, since it would not become desolate, but rather grow all the more. The monks left the monastery, taking with them relics and cell-items, and when they returned they saw that their beloved place had been reduced to ashes. But the Monk Nikon did not despair, and the task of the brethren was renewed work. First of all was built a wooden church in the Name of the MostHoly LifeCreating Trinity and it was consecrated in the year 1411 on the day of repose of the Monk Sergei, 25 September. The monastery was restored, and the Monk Nikon undertook construction of a stone church over the grave of his spiritual father, the Monk Sergei. The work-crew digging at the time for the foundations uncovered on 5 July 1422 the undecayed relics of the Monk Sergei. Amidst universal rejoicing they placed the relics in a new reliquary and at the transferred-to new site a wooden church was built (now at this place is the church in honour of the Descent of the Holy Spirit). The Monk Nikon later erected a new stone church in the Name of the glorious God in Trinity, and in memory and praise to his spiritual father, he transferred the holy relics into this newly built church. For the embellishment of the temple the Monk Nikon brought in the finest iconographers, the Monks Saint Andrei (Rublev) and Daniel (Cherny). Then also the Monk Andrei wrote the Icon of the LifeCreating and MostHoly Trinity, embodying in it what was revealed to the Monk Sergei. The Monk Nikon was occupied with the construction of the Trinity church until the end of his life. The place of his future repose together with the Monk Sergei was revealed to him in a vision before his death. He summoned the brethren and gave them directives. Having communed the All-Pure Body of Christ and His Precious Blood, the Monk Nikon gave the brethren a last blessing and said: "Let us go thither, my soul, whence it is prepared for thee to dwell; let us proceed with joy: for Christ doth summon thee". Having made the sign of the cross, the Monk Nikon died on 27 November 1426. He was buried near the reliquary of the Monk Sergei. Under Sainted-hierarch Jona (1448-1461), the priestmonk Pakhomii the Logothete wrote down the service and Life of the Monk Nikon, and in the year 1547 there was established a generally observed celebration to him. In the year 1548 a church in his name was built over the grave of the Monk Nikon, and in 1623 a new one was constructed in its place, in which the relics of the Monk Nikon rest under a crypt. In 1976 at the Trinity-Sergeev Lavra, the 500 year anniversary of the repose of the Monk Nikon was solemnly observed.

1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.

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The Monk Nikon,
Hegumen of Radonezh


















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