Moses of Optina

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Our venerable father Moses (Putilov) of Optina was a starets and schema archimandrite among the group of monastics of Optina Monastery in the nineteenth century who were known as the Optina Elders. The Elder Moses is venerated on June 16 and with all the Optina Elders on October 11.


The Elder Moses was one of five children in the family of John Putilov in the town of Borisogleb in Yaroslavl province in Russia. He was born on January 15, 1782 and was baptized Timothy. As a youth he received the blessing of St. Seraphim to enter the monastic life. In 1811, he joined the Roslavl forest ascetics and came under the spiritual guidance of Elder Athanasius, a disciple of St. Paisius Velichkovsky. In time, he was tonsured a monk by Fr. Anthanasius. On January 15, 1816, he was joined by his younger brother Alexander, the future Elder Anthony. During these times Moses forged ties with Elder Leonid, a future elder of Optina. For fourteen years Moses exercised himself in spiritual warfare and inner concentration under the tutelage of the disciples of the Elder Paisius Velichkovsky. He was a strict keeper of the fast and ascetic life.

During those times some of Paisius' disciples had started a revival of the Monastery of Optina, Moses made a visit to the monastery in 1821. The brethren persuaded him to stay and to take part in building a skete nearby that Bishop Philaret of Kaluga had proposed. On July 6, 1822, Moses joined in the building project with his younger brother Anthony and two other monks. A year later, they had completed the church for skete, of which Moses was elected Igumen.

Also during 1822, Bp. Philaret suggested that Moses be ordained. Initially, objecting, Moses finally agreed, and he was ordained a deacon on December 22, 1822 and a priest on December 25. At the same time, he was appointed Father Confessor for the whole Optina Monastery.

In 1826, Fr. Moses was elected Superior of Optina Monastery, and Fr. Anthony took his placed in charge of the skete. Fr. Moses greatly expanded the hermitage. Under his direction the St. Mary of Egypt refectory church was built and additional cells for the brethren. He also added stables, a kiln, a large library, and an apiary to a growing heritage as well as adding extensive fruit orchards and vegetable gardens.

In 1829, Fr. Moses invited Fr. Leonid to come to Optina. With Fr Leonid's arrival with five disciples the monastics joined together in introducing the ancient monastic tradition of eldership at the skete and monastery. Moses himself set an example of utmost obedience and meekness. Over the years after the Elder Leonid arrived, Elder Moses did nothing without his blessing. His love and gentleness attracted many pilgrims.

Elder Moses reposed on June 16, 1862. He was buried in the side altar of the monastery's cathedral.


Elder Moses of Optina was glorified with all the Elders of Optina by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia in 1990. The feast day for St. Moses of Optina is June 16.

The local veneration of the Elders of Optina was authorized by the Patriarchate of Moscow on June 13, 1996. Glorification of the Elders of Optina for universal veneration occurred on August 7, 2000.