A saint who has the title Fool-for-Christ is one who is known for his apparent, yet holy, insanity. This title in Russian is Yurodivyi.
Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. (1 Corinthians 3:18-19 KJV)
One form of the ascetic Christian life is called foolishness for the sake of Christ. The fool-for-Christ set for himself the task of battling within himself the root of all sin, pride. In order to accomplish this he took on an unusual style of life, appearing as someone bereft of his mental faculties, thus bringing upon himself the ridicule of others. In addition he exposed the evil in the world through metaphorical and symbolic words and actions. He took this ascetic endeavor upon himself in order to humble himself and to also more effectively influence others, since most people respond to the usual ordinary sermon with indifference. The spiritual feat of foolishness for Christ was especially widespread in Russia. --(Excerpted from The Law of God, Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville, NY: 1993)
Saint Andrew of Constantinople is considered to be the first such saint, although Saint Basil of Moscow is also widely known.
List of Holy Fools-for-Christ
A list of some of the Fools-for-Christ's sake:
- Anastasia Andretevna, Fool-for-Christ (March 1)
- Blessed Andrew the Fool-for-Christ of Constantinople (October 2) (d. 936)
- Blessed Andrew of Totma, the Fool-for-Christ (October 10)
- Blessed Anthony Alexseevich, Fool-for-Christ of Zadonsk (September 29 - repose of) (1851)
- Anthony Ivanovich, Fool-for-Christ of Valaam (June 7 - repose of) (1832)
- Saint Arsenius of Novgorod, Fool-for-Christ (May 8)
- Asenatha of Goritsky, Fool-for-Christ (April 19 - repose of) (1892)
- Blessed Athanasius Adrewyevich of Orel, Fool-for-Christ (April 12 - repose of) (1967)
- Blessed Basil of Moscow, Fool-for-Christ (August 2)
- Blessed Cyprian of Suzdal (October 2)
- Blessed George of Shenkursk, Fool-for-Christ (April 23)
- Saint Isidore the Fool of Tabenna in Egypt (May 10)
- Venerable Isidore the Fool-for-Christ and Wonder-worker of Rostov (May 14)
- Blessed John "the Hairy" the Fool-for-Christ at Rostov (September 3 and November 12)
- Venerable John the Ascetic and Fool-for-Christ
- Blessed John of Ustiug the Fool-for-Christ (March 14 and May 29 - repose of) (1893)
- Blessed John of Moscow, Miracle-worker and Fool-for-Christ (July 3)
- Jonah, Fool-for-Christ of Peshnosha Monastery (June 15 - repose of) (1838)
- Blessed Laurence the Fool-for-Christ at Kaluga (August 10)
- Saint Maximus Kausokalyves (Mt. Athos), (January 13)
- Blessed Maximus of Totma (Vologda), Fool-for-Christ (January 16)
- Venerable Maximus of Moscow the Fool-for-Christ (August 13 - opening of his relics)
- Venerable Michael the Fool-for-Christ of the Klops Monastery (January 11) (June 23 - translation of his relics)
- New-Martyr Michael (Misha), Fool-for-Christ (April 1) (1931)
- Blessed Michael and Thomas, Fools-for-Christ of Solvychegodsk (Vologda) (July 3)
- Blessed Nicholas of Salos of Pskov the Fool-for-Christ (February 28)
- Blessed Nicholas Kochanov, Fool-for-Christ at Novgorod (July 27)
- Blessed Paisius, Fool-for-Christ of the Kiev Caves (April 17 - repose of) (1893)
- Blessed Parasceva "Pasha of Sarov," Fool-for Christ of Diveyevo Convent (September 22) (1915)
- Saint Paul, Fool-for-Christ (November 6)
- Pelagia Ivanovna Serebrennikova
- Blessed Procopius of Vyatka, Fool-for-Christ (December 21)
- Saint Procopius the Fool-for-Christ and Wonder-worker of Ustiug (July 8)
- Righteous Procopius of Usya (Vologda), Fool-for-Christ (July 8)
- Venerable Symeon of Emesa the Fool-for-Christ (July 21)
- Blessed Simon of Yurievits, Fool-for-Christ (May 10)
- Blessed Theodore of Novgorod, Fool-for-Christ (January 19)
- Saint Theodore, Fool-for-Christ (February 25)
- New-Martyr Theoktista Michailovna of Voronezh (February 22) (1936)
- Blessed Schema-hieromonk Theophilus, Fool-for-Christ of the Kiev Caves (October 28 - repose of) (1852)
- Saint Thomas the Fool of Syria (April 24)
- Saint Xenia of St. Petersburg, Fool-for-Christ (January 24)
Orthodox Psychotherapy: Further Reading
- Kallistos (Ware) of Diokleia. “The Fool in Christ as Prophet and Apostle,” Sobornost (incorporating Eastern Churches Review) , new series 6.2 (1984), 6-28.
- Fr. Dumitru Staniloae, Prayer and Holiness. Fairacres Publications, September 1982. ISBN 0 7283 0093 1
- Dr. Donald Blais (ThD), Passion and Pathology in Teresa of Avila's Mystical Transformation: With Reference to the Transpersonal Theories of Michael Washburn. Dissertation submitted to the Faculty of Regis College and the Pastoral Department of the Toronto School of Theology, University of Toronto. Submitted August 1, 1997. Defended October 16, 1997.
- Dr.Jean-Claude Larchet, Mental Disorders and Spiritual Healing: Teachings from the Early Christian East. 1st Ed. Transl. by G. John Champoux and Rama P. Coomaraswamy. Published by Sophia Perennis, July 2005. (ISBN 1597310611) (ISBN 9781597310611)
- Reviewed in the Russian Newspaper: Ex Libris NG (Nezavisimaya Gazeta), Thursday January 17, 2008.
- French theologian and Doctor of Philosophy Jean-Claude Larche's study of modern psychiatry with respect to studying the Orthodox view of 'madness', drawing on patristic and hagiographical literature of the I-XIV centuries, recounting the experience of healing mental illness by holy fathers, who, unlike psychiatrists, examined the person, took into account the totality of the human being (spirit, soul, and body). Pays special attention to "Fools for Christ's sake" - Yurodstvo.
- Dr. John T. Chirban (Ph.D, Th.D). Holistic Healing in Byzantium. Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2009. ISBN 9781885652898
- Bishop Chrysostomos and Thomas Brecht. Jung and the mystical theology of the Eastern Orthodox Church: Comments on common ground. In: Pastoral Psychology, Volume 38, Number 4 / June, 1990. pp.197-203. ISSN 0031-2789 (Print) 1573-6679 (Online)
- Bishop Chrysostomos is Academic Director of the Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies at the St. Gregory Palamas Monastery in Etna, CA. He received his doctorate in psychology at Princeton University.
- Dr. Thomas Brecht is a psychologist in private practice with the Alabama Psychiatric Services, Birmingham AL.
External Links and Sources
- Fools for Christ
- Re: Fools for Christ scroll down for responses to Fools for Christ
- Orthodox America: Diveyevo’s Holy "Fools"
- Choir of all Blessed Fools-for-Christ's Sake and Miracle-Workers