John (Alexeev)

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John (Alexeev), an elder of Valaam, known in the world as John (Ioann) Alexeevich Alexeev, was a Schema-abbot at the Valaam and New-Valaam monasteries.


John was born on February 14, 1873 in Tver province of Russia into a family of a peasant family. He graduated from the parish school of the village of Il’inskoe.

In 1889, he entered Valaam Monastery. After spending four years in the Skete of St. Herman of Valaam, he was conscripted into the army for another four years. Released from military service, he temporarily returned home before returning, in 1901, to Valaam. John was given obedience for two years at the metochion of the Valaam monastery in St. Petersburg. Later, he wrote that the city had a bad influence on him and that he, weak in spirit, could not accommodate the urban bustle.

In 1906, John became a novice at Valaam Monastery and, on May 22, 1910, he was tonsured a monk with the name of Hyacinth.

After repeated petitions, Hyacinth returned to the monastery and lived initially in St. Elias Skete, then later in the Skete of St. John the Baptist.

On October 19, 1921, he was appointed abbot of St. Tryphon of Pechenga Monastery. Then on November 13, he was ordained a hierodeacon and on November 15 a hieromonk. At that time, the monastery was within the territory of the newly independent Finland.

In 1932, Hyacinth returned to Valaam and, in 1933, he was tonsured in Great Schema with the name John and began to live in seclusion in the Skete of St. John the Baptist. In 1938, he was elected the spiritual father of the monastery.

In 1940, Fr. John was evacuated with the other brethren to Finland during the Winter War between the Soviet Union and Finland.

The elder reposed on June 5, 1958, in the New-Valaam Monastery in Finland.


Father John carried on an extensive correspondence. Among his spiritual children were people both with higher education and simply uneducated. In the 1950s, some of his letters were published in the journal "Aamun Koitto", translated into Finnish by the chief editor Hieromonk Paul, so the readers got acquainted with the teachings of the elder and his advices. In 1956, a small collection of letters was published in Helsinki in Russian. Subsequently, in 1984 and 1990, the letters were reprinted in Finland and, in book form, were translated into English and Serbian. Many times the letters were published in Russia.