Nikon of Radonezh

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Our father among the saints, the Venerable Nikon of Radonezh, was the successor to St. Sergius of Radonezh as abbot of the Holy Trinity monastery. The monastery was founded by St. Sergius. Nikon rebuilt the monastery after it was destroyed by Tatars, and remained its abbot until his death in 1426. He is commemorated on November 17.

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Nikon was born in 1355. He was from the city of Yuriev-Polsky which was half way between the cities of Rostov and Radonezh in Russia. He came to the Holy Trinity monastery at such a very young age that St. Sergius placed his care and education under one of his disciples, St. Athanasius, who was the abbot of the Monastery of the Theotokos on the Mountain in Serpukhov. Under Athanasius, he grew in humility and selflessness, was tonsured a monk and ordained to the priesthood. He grew to be a pious and disciplined man.

Nikon returned to Holy Trinity monastery in 1375. Sergius soon recognized Nikon’s advanced spiritual state, becoming a close co-worker and cell-attendant to Sergius. During the following years Nikon worked closely with Sergius, earning his trust and esteem. About a half year before he died in 1392, Sergius named Nikon his successor as the abbot of the monastery.

Before the year 1392 was out, the monastery was attacked by Tatars and devastated. Nikon quickly worked to restore the Holy Trinity Monastery. In 1408, the monastery was again attacked by the Tatars and burned down. Once again Nikon led the reconstruction of the monastery which continued over the next several years. During the construction of the new Trinity Cathedral in 1422, Nikon came upon the relics of St. Sergius in the ruins of the earlier, destroyed church. Nikon had the relics placed in the new cathedral. Nikon also commissioned the famous iconographers of the day, Andrei Rublev and Daniel the Black, to paint the interior of the cathedral, which was finished in 1425.

Nikon died in the following year, on November 17, 1426. He was buried near the southern wall of Trinity Cathedral. Nikon was canonized in 1547. The following year, 1548, a church was built over his grave and dedicated in his name.

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