On [[September 23]], 1896, Sergei Symeonovich Sakharov was born to Orthodox parents in Russia. As a child, Sergei would pray daily, later recalling that he would pray for 45 minutes without stress. Even as a child, Sergei experienced the Uncreated Light. He read widely, including such Russian greats as
Gogl, Turgenev, Tolstoy, [[Fyodor Dostoevsky|Dostoyevsky]] and Pushkin.
Due to great artistic talent, Sergei studied at the Academy of Arts between 1915 and 1917 and then at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture between 1920 and 1921. Sergei used art as a "quasi-mystical" means "to discover eternal beauty", "breaking through present reality...into new horizons of being." Later, this would help him to differentiate between human intellectual light and God's Uncreated Light.
Sergei arrived at Mt Athos in 1926, where he entered the [[St. Panteleimon's Monastery (Athos)|Russian Orthodox Monastery of St. Panteleimon]] with the intent of learning how to pray and to have the right attitude towards God. He was [[tonsure]]d with the name of Sophrony. In 1930, Fr Sophrony was ordained to the [[diaconate]] by St [[Nikolai Velimirovic|Nicolai (Velimirovic) of Zicha]], and he became a disciple of St [[Silouan the Athonite]], who would prove to be Fr Sophrony's greatest and life-long influence. St Silouan had no formal system of theology, being largely uneducated, but his life exuded theology. This is what taught Fr Sophrony, and what Fr Sophrony would later systematize.
Between 1932 and 1946, Fr Sophrony exchanged letters with Fr David Balfour, a [[Roman Catholic|Catholic]] who converted to Orthodoxy. These letters revealed Fr Sophrony's knowledge of many [[Holy Fathers|Fathers of the Church]], and they forced Fr Sophrony to articulate his theological thought and to demonstrate the differences between Western and Eastern thought. Many of Fr Sophrony's later thoughts would arise out of the same topics addressed in this correspondence.
In 1938, St Silouan [[September 24
|reposed]]. Following the saint's instructions, Fr Sophrony left the monastery grounds to reside in the Athonite desert: first at Karoulia, then at a cave near St Paul's Monastery. His residence in this desert lasted World War II's duration, 1939-1945, and it proved to be a time of such intense prayer that Fr Sophrony's health was affected. This taught him the interdependence of all humanity. In 1941, Elder Sophrony was ordained to the priesthood. He became a [[Geronta|spiritual father]] to many Athonite monks.
By 1958, Elder Sophrony had a number of people living near him, seeking the monastic life. A property at Tolleshunt Knights, Maldon, Essex, England was inspected, and the next year the Community of St John the Baptist was formed at this site, under the [[omophorion]] of Metropolitan [[Anthony (Bloom) of Sourozh]]. The monastery had both monks and nuns, something that has continued to the present, and originally had six members. In 1965, the monastery would move under the omophorion of the [[Church of Constantinople|Ecumenical Patriarchate]], adding the title '
[[Patriarchal ]]' to its name. Later, the Ecumenical Patriarchate elevated the monastery to '[[Stavropegic]]'.
In 1973, a more complete translation of the life of St Silouan, under the title ''Monk of Mt Athos'', was published, followed by the publication of ''Wisdom of Mt Athos'', the writings of St Silouan. Elder Sophrony seemed to move to his own works after this, publishing ''His Life is Mine'' in 1977 and ''We Shall see Him As He Is'' in 1985. This last book, a very frank, open spiritual autobiography, was published to mixed reviews: where the West generally enjoyed the book, the Russians generally criticized it. Some of the criticism was so stinging that it, along with increasing illness, discouraged Elder Sophrony from writing again.
===Events of and after his repose===
The monastery had been informed that the only way that it could bury people on its property was to build an underground crypt, which it proceeded to build, and to which Elder Sophrony said that he would not repose until the crypt was ready. Then, having been told of the expected completion date of 12 July, Elder Sophrony stated that he "would be ready". On the 11th, Elder Sophrony reposed; and on the 14th was his funeral and burial, attended by monastics from around the world. At the time of Fr Sophrony's repose, there are 25 monastics in the monastery, a number that has remained steady since then.[[Image:Reposed_Elder_Sophrony.jpg|thumb|Repose of Elser Sophrony - 11th July 1993]]
Mother Elizabeth, the eldest nun, reposed soon after, on the 24th. This was in accordance with Elder Sophrony's words that he would repose first, and she would repose soon after.