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Euphrosynus of Pskov

The Venerable Euphrosynus Abbot and Wonderworker of Pskov was an ascetic of the Church of Russia who was known for his piety and as founder of Spaso-Yelizarovsky Monastery of Pskov that bears his baptismal name. He was the original Pskov wilderness-dweller.


Eleazar was born in 1386 in the village of Videlebo, near the ancient city of Pskov. While his parents looked to his marrying, Eleazar quietly withdrew to the Snetogorsk monastery on the Snyatni hill, now in Pskov itself, to take-up the life of a monastic. There Eleazar accepted tonsure as a monk with the name Euphrosynus. As his prayer life at the monastery matured, Euphrosynus looked to devote himself more intensely to prayer. About the year 1425, he felt the need to find an isolated place where he might devote himself more deeply to prayer.

Receiving the abbot's blessing, Euphrosynus moved to a solitary cell at the River Tolva, not far from Pskov. But, being sensitive to the salvation of his neighbors, Euphrosynus soon found it necessary to abandon his isolation and began to receive everyone who was in need of an experienced Elder and guide. Saint Euphrosynus blessed all those who came to him to live according to a skete rule that he compiled. His Rule presents advice in a generalized manner for monks proceeding on a path to monasticism, that is, "how it befits monks to dwell." He did not address strictly the regulation of all aspects of monastic life, as did, for example, the Rule of St. Joseph of Volokolamsk, such as, there is nothing in Euphrosynus' Rule concerning the order of divine services.

In time, the brethren of his community requested of Euphrosynus a church. So, in 1447, the sainted abbot built a wooden church dedicated to the Three Holy Hierarchs Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom, who appeared to him, and also to St. Onuphrius the Great, a desert ascetic of Egypt. When the monastery found the need for a formal leader, the brethren turned to Euphrosynus, but out of humility and his love for the solitary life, the saint did not wish to be igumen. Instead he nominated his disciple Ignatius in his stead. Then, he went to live in the forest near a lake.

Euphrosynus died at the advanced age of ninety-five, on May 15, 1481. He was buried in the wooden church that was built at the founding of Spaso-Yelizarovsky Monastery, as the monastery became known in his honor. St. Euphrosynus was glorified in 1551 at the Stoglavy Sobor. At the direction of Archbishop Gennadius of Novgorod an icon was placed at his crypt that had been painted by his disciple Ignatius while Euphrosynus was still alive. Also preserved was the last testament of the saint to the brethren, on a piece of parchment, stamped with the lead seal of Archbishop Theophilus of Novgorod. This is one of very few surviving wills written by an ascetic in his own hand.


St. Euphrosynus was the originator of Pskov wilderness life. He taught many famed disciples, who also established monasteries, and planted the seeds of monasticism throughout the Pskov area. Among his disciples were the skete Elders Sava of Krypetsk, St. Dositheus of Verkhneostrov, St. Onuphrius of Malsk, St. Joachim of Opochsk, St. Hilarion of Gdovsk, St. Chariton of Kudinsk founder and igumen of a monastery at Lake Kudina near Toroptsa, and the locally venerated brothers from Pskov, Ignatius, Charalampos, and Pamphilius, who were buried at the Spaso-Eleazar Monastery, as the monastery is also known.