Macarius of Kanev

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Hieromartyr Macarius of Kanev was an Orthodox monastic who lived during the seventeenth century in the area of the Unia in what is present day Belarus and Ukraine. He was noted for his spiritual struggles and virtuous life. He was martyred, defending the Kanev Monastery against an attacking Tatar/Turkish army. Hieromartyr Macarius is remembered on September 7, the day of his repose, and on May 13, the day of transfer of the his relics.


Macarius was born in 1605 into the Tokarevsky family in the city of Ovrucha in Volynia. In 1614, he began studies in the Monastery of Dormition of the Mother of God of Ovrucha, where prayer and reading the works of the Holy Fathers were his favorite activity. After the repose of his parents he was tonsured a monk with the name Macarius.

In 1625, Bishop Abraham of Pinsk sent Mnk. Macarius to the Kupiatits monastery in Pinsk. At Kupiatits monastery, Macarius was ordained a hierodeacon in 1630 by Bishop Lazarus (Baranovitch), and then again in 1632, to the dignity of hieromonk. Soon, the monastic reputation of Fr, Macarius spread beyond the monastery. In 1637, the brethren of the Monastery of Bretsk Simonovsk asked Ilarion (Denisevich), the Igumen of Kupiatits, to send Fr. Macarius as their abbot. But, Igumen Ilarion had other plans for Fr. Macarius, as he sent Fr. Macarius, as a courier, to Metropolitan Peter Mogila of Kiev with money collected by the brethren for the reconstruction of the Cathedral of St. Sophia in Kiev. He was also asked to solicit help for the construction and repair of the damaged churches of Kupiatits Monastery.

Recognizing the talents of Fr. Macarius, Metr. Peter issued to Fr. Macarius a universal certificate authorizing his collecting of offerings. Then in 1638, Metr. Peter appointed Fr. Macarius abbot of the Kamenets Monastery of the Resurrection (Voskresenie) in the Grodnensky district of present day Belarus. Fr. Macarius guided the monastics of the monastery until 1656, when the partisans of the Unia pillaged and seized the monastery. At this time the monastic community of Kupiatits monastery asked Fr. Macarius to return and, as rector, lead them again. Which he did from 1656 to 1659. In 1660, raised to the dignity of archimandrite, Fr. Macarius returned to lead the brethren on the Monastery of the Dormition in his native Ovrucha.

The following ten years were passed in an incessant struggle for the Orthodox Christians in Ovrucha and western Russia as the Latins of Poland attempted to force the Unia upon the Orthodox people. Archim. Macarius and the brethren held fast in their monastery in the face of pillaging and thrashing of moveable property and the expropriation by the Dominicans of the farm-lands belonging to the monastery. It was only in 1671, after Ovrucha and the monastery were devastation by the Poles, and all the monks were gone, that Archim. Macarius left the monastery for the Kiev Pechersk Lavra where he spent two years.

In 1672, Metr. Joseph (Neliubovitch-Tukalsky) of Kiev appointed Archim. Macarius abbot of the Kaneva Monastery where he again was on the front lines of battle for the Orthodox faith. Among the people, he soon became known for his spiritual counsel and healing, including healing of the blind.

As the result of the collapse of a cossack-Turkish alliance, on September 4, 1678, an Ottoman-Turk force descended on Little Russia and Kaneva Monastery. Archim. Macarius, a cross in hand, met the aggressors at the entrance of the monastery church. Responding to the demands of the Turks for the monastery's treasure, Archim. Macarius replied "My gold is in heaven and not on earth". Furious, they then hanged the resolute Macarius hand and foot between two posts. Then, after two days they beheaded him on September 7, 1678.

Witnesses, who were hidden in the monastery church and saw Archim. Macarius die, carried his body to church. Then, the Turks returned, placed firewood around the church, and burned everything hidden in the temple. When the survivors of Kanev began removing the bodies of those who perished, they found only one body that was whole, as though alive. This body was that of the martyred monk Macarius, attired in a hairshirt, with a cross on the breast and another cross in the hand. His was buried in the temple beneath the altar on September 8, 1678.

In 1688, the grave of the martyred Macarius was opened during renovation of the church and his relics were found incorrupt, as of a saint. In view of the continuing threat of invasion of Kanevsk monastery, Macarius' relics were transferred on May 13, 1688 to the Church of the Resurrection in Pereyaslavl. In 1713, under the initiative of Bishop Zakhary (Kornilovich), the relics of the saint were transferred, first, to a newly built temple at the Monastery of the Archangel Michael in Pereyaslavl, and then, in 1786, to the Monastery of the Ascension in Pereyaslavl.

In 1942, his relics were transferred to the Trinity church in the city of Cherkas, before again being transferred, in 1965, to the Church of the Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God in Cherkas. On September 20, 2008, a monument to St. Marcarius was unveiled near the Dormition Cathedral in Kanev.

Hieromartyr Macarius is commemorated twice: on September 7, the day of his repose, and on May 13, the day of transfer of the his relics.