Sophronius of Irkutsk

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'''Saint Sophronius, Bishop of Irkutsk and Wonderworker of all Siberia''' is a Russian saint from 19th century.
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Our father among the [[saint]]s '''Sophronius of Irkutsk''', the [[Wonderworker]] of all Siberia, is a Russian saint from eighteenth century. His [[feast day]] is on [[March 30]], and the [[Translation (relics)|translation]] of his [[relics]] is commemorated on [[June 30]].
  
== Life ==
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==Life==
He was born in Malorussia in the Chernigov region in 1704. His father, Nazarius, was "a common man in his affairs, and the saint was named Stephen, in honor of the protomartyr [[Apostle Stephen the Protomartyr|St. Stephen]]. He had two brothers and a sister, Pelagia. The name of one brother was Paul. The name of the other older brother is unknown, but it is said that he was head of the Krasnogorsk Zolotonosh monastery.
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Stephen Kristalevsky was born into the family of Nazarius Kristalevsky in Malorussia in the Chernigov region in 1704, the youngest son of three brothers and a daughter. Stephen spent his childhood in the village of Berezan of the Pereyaslaval district of the Poltava governance. As he reach maturity, Stephen entered the [[Kiev Theological Academy]].
  
Stephen's childhood years were spent in the settlement of Berezan in the Pereyaslavl district of the Poltava governance, where the family settled after the father was discharged from service. When he came of age, Stephen entered the Kiev Theological Academy, where two other future hierarchs were studying: [[Joasaph of Belgorod|Joasaph, Bishop of Belgorod]] (September 4 and December 10), and [[Paul of Tobolsk|Paul, Metropolitan of Tobolsk]] (June 10 and November 4).
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After completing his religious education Stephen entered the Krasnogorsk Transfiguration Monastery at which one of his brothers labored in [[asceticism]]. The [[monastery]] was later renamed the Protection Monastery. On [[April 23]], 1730, Stephen was [[tonsure]]d a [[monk]] and given the name Sophronius, in honor of St. [[Sophronius I of Jerusalem|Sophronius of Jerusalem]]. During the night after his tonsure, Sophronius heard a voice in the Protection church predict his future service in the Church: ''When you become bishop, build a church dedicated to All Saints".
  
After completing his religious education, Stephen entered the Krasnogorsk Transfiguration monastery (later renamed the Protection monastery, in 1789, it was transformed into a women's [monastery]), where his elder brother already labored in [asceticism]. On April 23, 1730 he received [[tonsure|monastic tonsure]] with the name of Sophronius, in honor of [[Sophronius of Jerusalem|St. Sophronius of Jerusalem]] (March 11).
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In 1732, he was called back to Kiev where he was [[ordination|ordained]] a [[deacon]] and then a [[hieromonk]]. In 1734, Fr. Sophronius was named the treasurer of the Zolotonosh monastery. After serving for two years, Sophronius was assigned by [[Bishop]] Arsenius (Berlov) of Pereyaslaval to serve as the [[archbishop]]'s steward, a position he held for eight years. During these years, Fr. Sophronius maintained his connection with the Protection Monastery, visiting often for a day of contemplation and work and thus served as an example to the brethren.
  
On the night after his monastic tonsure, St Sophronius heard a Voice in the Protection church predicting his future service: "When you become bishop, build a church dedicated to [[All Saints]]."
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In his duties for his bishop, Fr. Sophronius traveled often to the [[Holy Synod]] in St. Petersburg where he became well known. In 1742, Fr. Sophronius was transferred to St. Petersburg and assigned to the St. [[Alexander Nevsky Lavra]]. In a year he was appointed treasurer of the monastery, then in 1746 he was appointed the Superior of the [[Lavra]]. Soon, Fr. Sophronius called a friend hieromonk Sibesios (Ivanoff) to St. Petersburg and installed him as [[igumen]] of the Lavra's dependency, the St. Sergius Hermitage. Through the following years they formed a strong pastoral bond that continued until their repose.
  
In 1732, he was summoned to Kiev. There he was ordained [[hierodeacon]], and then [[hieromonk]] in the cathedral of Holy Wisdom. After St Sophronius had been a monk for two years, he became [[treasurer]] of the Zolotonosh monastery for two years, and then His Grace Bishop Arsenius (Berlov) of the Pereyaslavl diocese sent him into the house of his archbishop, where he was steward for eight years.
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During his years managing the Lavra, Fr. Sophronius also improved the instruction at the St. Petersburg Seminary and, with Archbishop Theodosius, greatly expanded the library at the monastery. During this time, he also built a two story stone [[church]] at the Lavra in which the upper church was dedicated to St. [[Alexander Nevsky]] and the lower church to St. [[John Chrysostom]].  
  
These facts testify to the connections of the saint with his original Protection monastery. During his obedience under the presiding hierarch at Pereyaslavl, he often visited his monastery, spending the day in quiet contemplation and work, serving as an example to the brethren.
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On [[February 23]], 1753, the empress Elizabeth recommended Igumen Sophronius to fill the six year vacancy in the [[missionary]] Eparchy of Irkutsk, following the death of Bp. Innocent II (Nerunovich) of Irkutsk in 1747. On [[April 18]], 1753, Fr. Sophronius was [[consecration of a bishop|consecrated]] Bishop of Irkutsk and Nerchinsk. Foreseeing the difficult service on the Siberian frontier, Bp. Sophronius gathered educated and spiritually experienced co-workers, including his friend the hieromonk Sinesios, to aid him in his new responsibility.
  
When Hieromonk Sophronius traveled to the Holy Synod on behalf of his bishop, they paid close attention to him. In January 1742, the future saint was transferred to the St. Alexander Nevsky Lavra in St Peterburg, the foremost monastery of the capital. A year later he was appointed treasurer of the monastery, and in 1746 he was appointed as [[hegumen|Superior]] of the monastery.
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Bp. Sophronius arrived in Irkutsk on [[March 20]], 1754 where he visited the residence of his predecessor, Bp. Innocent and prayed, asking his predecessor's blessing as he began his work in Siberia. Bp. Sophronius quickly gave attention to the century old monastery community of his [[diocese]] that had been the heart of the mission in Siberia. In 1754, Bp. Sophronius elevated hieromonk Sinesios to [[archimandrite]] of Ascension Monastery, a position he would hold for thirty-three years until his repose.  
  
He summoned his fellow countryman, the hieromonk Sinesios (Ivanoff), a native of the city of Priluki, and made him hegumen of the St Sergius Hermitage, a dependancy of St. Alexander Nevsky Lavra. From this time the friendship of the two ascetics, hieromonk Sophronius and hieromonk Sinesios, was strengthened by their joint pastoral effort, and they were inseparable until they died in Siberia.
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By September 1754, Bp. Sophronius had set standards for education, including that for the children of the [[clergy]]. In his sermons, conversations, and actions Bp. Sophronius called for a higher moral ideal and for the reverent and correct performance of the divine services. Bp. Sophronius recognized that it was his duty to enlighten the Christians of the area as well as to teach and [[conversion|convert]] the idol-worshippers.
  
During these years St Sophronius worked hard at managing the monastery and improvement of teaching at the [[seminary]] located nearby. He and Archbishop Theodosius made it their task to acquire more books for the monastic library.
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As his health deteriorated, Bp. Sophronius asked to be retired, an action that took some time as it was difficult to find a worthy successor. In the final days of his life, he continued in his asceticism and prayer. Bp. Sophronius reposed on [[March 30]], 1771.  
  
St. Sophronius built a two storey [[church]]: the upper church was dedicated to St. Theodore, the older brother of [[Aleksander Nevsky|St. Alexander Nevsky]]; and the lower to [[John Chrysostom|St. John Chrysostom]].
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St. Sophronius was [[glorification|glorified]] on [[April 23]], 1918 by the [[All-Russian Church Council of 1917-1918|Local Council]] of the Russian Orthodox Church.
  
Bishop Innocent II (Nerunovich) of Irkutsk died in 1747. For six years afterwards, the Irkutsk diocese remained without a spiritual head.
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{{start box}}
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{{succession|
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before=?|
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title=Bishop of Irkutsk|
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years=1753—1771|
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after=?}}
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{{end box}}
  
Finally, on February 23, 1753, the empress Elizabeth (1741-1761) recommended the pious Hegumen Sophronius of the Alexander Nevsky monastery to the Holy Synod as "a person, not only worthy of episcopal rank, but also someone completely able to fulfill the wishes and the hopes of the state and the Synod, and take up the burden of episcopal service on the far frontier and satisfy the needs of his flock in that harsh land, among wild primitives and lawless people."
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==Sources==
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*[http://ocafs.oca.org/FeastSaintsViewer.asp?FSID=100944 OCA: St Sophronius the Bishop of Irkutsk]
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*[http://ocafs.oca.org/FeastSaintsViewer.asp?SID=4&ID=1&FSID=101857  OCA: Translation of the relics of St Sophronius the Bishop of Irkutsk]
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*[http://molonlabe70.blogspot.com/2010/03/st-sophronius-bishop-of-irkutsk.html  St Sophronius the Bishop of Irkutsk]
  
On April 18, 1753, [[Sunday of St. Thomas|Thomas Sunday]], Hieromonk Sophronius was [[consecration|consecrated]] Bishop of Irkutsk and Nerchinsk in the Dormition cathedral.
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==External links==
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*[http://www.holytrinityorthodox.com/calendar/los/March/30-04.htm Sainted Sophronii, Bishop of Irkutsk and WonderWorker of all Siberia]
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*[http://www.stjohndc.org/Russian/saints/e_0306_Sophrony.htm St. Sophronius the Wonderworker, Bishop of Irkutsk and all Siberia]
  
Foreseeing difficult service on the distant Siberian frontier, the new bishop did not immediately travel to the Irkutsk eparchy, but rather began to gather educated and spiritually experienced co-workers. During this period St. Sophronius visited at his original Krasnogorsk monastery. At the holy places of Kiev, he also sought the blessings of the Kiev Caves Saints for his service. The constant companion of the saint, as had been before, was the hieromonk Sinesios, sharing in his friend's work.
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[[Category:Saints]]
 
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[[Category:Bishops]]
At Moscow, Archbishop Platon of Moscow and Sevsk provided him with further assistance. He gave him fatherly advice for his task, since he was quite familiar with the peculiarities of the Siberian religious life. He forewarned him about the self-willed local authorities, and advised him to surround himself with trustworthy helpers.
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[[Category:Bishops of Irkutsk]]
 
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[[Category:18th-century bishops]]
On March 20, 1754 the saint arrived at Irkutsk. He went first to the Ascension monastery, his predecessor's residence, and prayed at the grave of Bishop Innocent (Kulchitz), asking his blessing as he took up his assignment.
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[[Category:Russian Saints]]
 
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[[Category:Wonderworkers]]
Familiarizing himself with the state of affairs in the diocese, the saint began the reorganization of the Spiritual consistory, monasteries and parishes, and appealed to the Holy Synod to send worthy men to the Irkutsk eparchy for [[priest|priestly service]].
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[[Category:18th-century saints]]
 
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Before the arrival of St Sophronius, the Irkutsk monasteries had already a century-old history. The founders of these monasteries were motivated by a fervent desire for [[monsaticism|monastic life]]. The wise hierarch appointed people of piety, wisdom, virtue, and with great experience both of life and spiritual matters as heads of the monastic communities. In 1754, Bishop Sophronius elevated his friend and companion Hieromonk Sinesios to be Archimandrite of Ascension monastery. He served the monastery for thirty-three years until his blessed repose.
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In September 1754, the bishop issued a decree in which he expressed concern for the education and upbringing of the children of the clergy. He wanted them to learn the [[Horologion]], the [[Psalter]], singing and letters, and this instruction "ought to be conducted with all industriousness and the utmost diligence, so that the children might be able to fulfill the responsibilities of sacristan and deacon."
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Studying both people and circumstances, the bishop in his sermons and conversations exhorted all to a higher moral ideal. He devoted particular attention to the reverent and correct performance of the divine services and the [[Holy Mysteries]], and he also looked after the moral purity of laymen. He was concerned about the position of women in the family, and defended them against their unjust inequality. The bishop attempted to set straight the Rule of divine services, and so he summoned priests, [[deacon]]s, [[subdeacon]]s and [[sacristan]]s, and those who sang in the choir during services.
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Traveling about the diocese, the saint noticed that censing and the ringing of bells were not being done properly in all places, and therefore he issued a decree restoring the proper way of censing and bell-ringing.
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Called to apostolic service in this frontier region, St. Sophronius realized that his duty was to enlighten the Christians of the area, and also to convert the idol-worshippers, who were very numerous in Siberia.
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It was difficult to bring pagans to the Church of Christ, especially because sometimes there was no one to serve in the churches, and to borrow priests for missionary activity only made matters worse. Knowing that the Church services would have a salutary effect on non-Russians, the saint not only served with reverence himself, but also required it of all his clergy.
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St. Sophronius also contributed to the development of a stable culture among the local people. He offered them monastic lands for settlements and in every way he endeavored to isolate them from the influence of paganism. A constant throng of visitors came from faraway places for his blessing.
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Even with his many cares, he did not forget his own spiritual life and eternity. He also led an ascetical life. His cell-attendant said that the saint "used simple food in small quantities. He served often, spent the greater part of the night at prayer, sleeping on the floor under a sheepskin or a fur, a deerskin or bear hide, and a small simple pillow".
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The spirit of his ascetic life fit in with the general uplifting of the Christian spirit in Russia after the glorification of [[Dimitri of Rostov|St. Demetrius of Rostov]] (September 21), [[Theodosius of Chernigov]] (September 9), and the uncovering of the incorrupt relics of his predecessor, [[Innocent of Irkutsk|St. Innocent of Irkutsk]] (February 9). This event inspired St. Sophronius to greater efforts and encouraged him to ask for the help of St. Innocent in his task of building up the diocese.
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Until the end of his days St Sophronius kept his love for the Krasnogor Zolotonosh monastery, which had nurtured him in the days of his youth. He constantly contributed support for its upkeep, sending the necessary means for this.
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Noticing a deterioration in his health, St. Sophronius petitioned the Holy Synod to let him retire. The answer from Peterburg did not come right away, since it was difficult to choose a worthy successor.
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The final days of St Sophronius' s life were spent in asceticism and [[prayer]].
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The light, which shone on the good deeds of St Sophronius, continues to the present time to testify to the glory of the Heavenly Father, "Who mercifully strengthens His saints." Now the holy memory of St. Sophronius is reverently preserved not only in Siberia at the place of his final deeds, but also at the place of his first deeds.
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St Sophronius is also commemorated on June 30 (his glorification in 1918).
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== Source ==
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*[http://ocafs.oca.org/FeastSaintsViewer.asp?FSID=100944 Saint Sophronius the Bishop or Irkutsk] ([[OCA]])
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[[Category: Saints]]
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[[Category: Bishops]]
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Latest revision as of 12:35, November 25, 2012

Our father among the saints Sophronius of Irkutsk, the Wonderworker of all Siberia, is a Russian saint from eighteenth century. His feast day is on March 30, and the translation of his relics is commemorated on June 30.

Life

Stephen Kristalevsky was born into the family of Nazarius Kristalevsky in Malorussia in the Chernigov region in 1704, the youngest son of three brothers and a daughter. Stephen spent his childhood in the village of Berezan of the Pereyaslaval district of the Poltava governance. As he reach maturity, Stephen entered the Kiev Theological Academy.

After completing his religious education Stephen entered the Krasnogorsk Transfiguration Monastery at which one of his brothers labored in asceticism. The monastery was later renamed the Protection Monastery. On April 23, 1730, Stephen was tonsured a monk and given the name Sophronius, in honor of St. Sophronius of Jerusalem. During the night after his tonsure, Sophronius heard a voice in the Protection church predict his future service in the Church: When you become bishop, build a church dedicated to All Saints".

In 1732, he was called back to Kiev where he was ordained a deacon and then a hieromonk. In 1734, Fr. Sophronius was named the treasurer of the Zolotonosh monastery. After serving for two years, Sophronius was assigned by Bishop Arsenius (Berlov) of Pereyaslaval to serve as the archbishop's steward, a position he held for eight years. During these years, Fr. Sophronius maintained his connection with the Protection Monastery, visiting often for a day of contemplation and work and thus served as an example to the brethren.

In his duties for his bishop, Fr. Sophronius traveled often to the Holy Synod in St. Petersburg where he became well known. In 1742, Fr. Sophronius was transferred to St. Petersburg and assigned to the St. Alexander Nevsky Lavra. In a year he was appointed treasurer of the monastery, then in 1746 he was appointed the Superior of the Lavra. Soon, Fr. Sophronius called a friend hieromonk Sibesios (Ivanoff) to St. Petersburg and installed him as igumen of the Lavra's dependency, the St. Sergius Hermitage. Through the following years they formed a strong pastoral bond that continued until their repose.

During his years managing the Lavra, Fr. Sophronius also improved the instruction at the St. Petersburg Seminary and, with Archbishop Theodosius, greatly expanded the library at the monastery. During this time, he also built a two story stone church at the Lavra in which the upper church was dedicated to St. Alexander Nevsky and the lower church to St. John Chrysostom.

On February 23, 1753, the empress Elizabeth recommended Igumen Sophronius to fill the six year vacancy in the missionary Eparchy of Irkutsk, following the death of Bp. Innocent II (Nerunovich) of Irkutsk in 1747. On April 18, 1753, Fr. Sophronius was consecrated Bishop of Irkutsk and Nerchinsk. Foreseeing the difficult service on the Siberian frontier, Bp. Sophronius gathered educated and spiritually experienced co-workers, including his friend the hieromonk Sinesios, to aid him in his new responsibility.

Bp. Sophronius arrived in Irkutsk on March 20, 1754 where he visited the residence of his predecessor, Bp. Innocent and prayed, asking his predecessor's blessing as he began his work in Siberia. Bp. Sophronius quickly gave attention to the century old monastery community of his diocese that had been the heart of the mission in Siberia. In 1754, Bp. Sophronius elevated hieromonk Sinesios to archimandrite of Ascension Monastery, a position he would hold for thirty-three years until his repose.

By September 1754, Bp. Sophronius had set standards for education, including that for the children of the clergy. In his sermons, conversations, and actions Bp. Sophronius called for a higher moral ideal and for the reverent and correct performance of the divine services. Bp. Sophronius recognized that it was his duty to enlighten the Christians of the area as well as to teach and convert the idol-worshippers.

As his health deteriorated, Bp. Sophronius asked to be retired, an action that took some time as it was difficult to find a worthy successor. In the final days of his life, he continued in his asceticism and prayer. Bp. Sophronius reposed on March 30, 1771.

St. Sophronius was glorified on April 23, 1918 by the Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Succession box:
Sophronius of Irkutsk
Preceded by:
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Bishop of Irkutsk
1753—1771
Succeeded by:
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