Patriarchal Stavropegic Monastery of St. John the Baptist (Maldon, Essex)
|Patriarchal Stavropegic Monastery of St. John the Baptist|
|Type||Stavropegic Double Monastery|
|Approx. size||24 monastics|
|Location||Tolleshunt Knights, Maldon, Essex, England|
|Liturgical language(s)||English, with French & Greek|
|Music used||Russian Chant|
|Feastdays celebrated||St John the Baptist|
|Official website||none advertised|
The Patriarchal Stavropegic Monastery of St John the Baptist is a monastic community for both men and women, directly under the Ecumenical Patriarchate. It is located in Tolleshunt Knights, Maldon, Essex, England.The community was founded in 1959 by Elder Sophrony (Sakharov), under the jurisdiction of His Eminence Metropolitan Anthony, Metropolitan of Sourozh and ruling Russian bishop in England, with six monastics from a number of nations; soon after, in 1965, the Monastery moved under the direct jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
The community consists of men and women living the monastic tradition of a Christ-centered prayer life for the monastic members. Currently, the majority of the community are nuns (~15-20), with a smaller number of monks. Since 2019, the abbot of the Monastery is Archimandrite Petros (Vryzas).
When founding the monastery, Elder Sophrony wanted to be sure that his community would not just have outward conformity, but have its focus on inner asceticism. The typikon of the monastery, consisting of repetition of the Jesus Prayer for approximately 4 hours per day and Divine Liturgy three or four times per week, found inspiration in Elder Sophrony's experience in the Athonite desert, and precedent in Athonite skete practise, St. Nicodemus and St. Paisius Velichkovsky.
Also, another distinctive part of this monastery is that it is a double monastery; that is, the community has both monks and nuns. This is rare, but is not unheard of, in Orthodox monasticism.
The Patriarchal Stavropegic Monastery of St John the Baptist had its beginnings largely in the person of Elder Sophrony. After his departure from Mt. Athos and his subsequent move to Paris, he was to live in a Russian old-age home, assisting the priest. Soon, two men would seek out Elder Sophrony, desiring the monastic life. They were allowed to live at the old-age home, using the repetition of the Jesus Prayer in lieu of liturgic books and eating the food that the old-age inhabitants didn't eat. There were also a few nuns living at the old-age home at this time.
In 1958, Elder Sophrony had six people living around him, seeking the monastic life. Realising that such a situation could not continue, he went to Tolleshunt Knights, Maldon, Essex, England to inspect a property; in the spring of 1959, the new Community of St John the Baptist was formed at the same property, under Metropolitan Anthony's omophorion. The monastery, from its beginnings, had both monks and nuns, due to Elder Sophrony being unable to oversee two separate communities.
The Monastery of St John the Baptist moved under the omophorion of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in 1959, becoming Patriarchal; later, the monastery would also be titled 'Stavropegic'.
Repose of Elder Sophrony
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 July 12, 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. Mother Elizabeth, the eldest nun, reposed soon after on the 24th, according to Elder Sophrony's words that he would repose first, and she would repose soon after.
Cycle of services
Saturday: 7:00am - Hours and Divine Liturgy
- 5:00-9:00pm - Vigil
Sunday: 10:15am - Hours and Divine Liturgy
- 3:00pm - Vespers and and Paraklesis, followed by talks in Greek, English
Daily: 6.00-8:30am and 5:30-8:00pm - Repetition of the Jesus Prayer
Tuesday: 7:00am - Hours and Divine Liturgy
Feastdays: Vigil on the preceding evening; Hours and Divine Liturgy in the morning.
One of the motivating factors behind Elder Sophrony's move to France was the publishing of St. Silouan's books; when Elder Sophrony moved to England, the monastery became the publisher of these works. In 1973, a more complete translation of the life of St. Silouan, titled Monk of Mt. Athos, was published; followed in 1975 by Wisdom of Mt. Athos, a collation of the writings of St. Silouan. After this, Elder Sophrony began to publish books of his own, beginning with His Life is Mine in 1977 and then We Shall See Him As He Is in 1985. In 1987, the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate glorified St. Silouan the Athonite.
Books published by the Monastery
- Monk of Mt. Athos, by Archimandrite Sophrony (Sakharov), 1973.
- Wisdom of Mt. Athos, by Archimandrite Sophrony (Sakharov), 1975.
- His Life is Mine, by Archimandrite Sophrony (Sakharov), 1977.
- We Shall See Him As He Is, by Archimandrite Sophrony (Sakharov), 1985.
- Service of Our Father among the Saints Nectarius: Bishop of Pentapolis, by Gerasimos Mikragiannaniteis
- Conversations with Children: Communicating our Faith, by Sister Magdalen, 2001.
- Archimandrite Sophrony (Sakharov), the first Abbot, 1959-1993.
- Archimandrite Symeon (Bruschweiler), spiritual son of Archimandrite Sophrony and co-founder of the Monastery in 1959. Translator of Elder Sophrony's works from Russian into French. Founder and president of the Association of Saint Silouan. Died August 20, 2009.
- Archimandrite Kyrill, second abbot, 1993-2019.
- Archimandrite Zacharias (Zacharou), disciple of Elder Sophrony for 27 years at St. Panteleimon's Monastery, Mt. Athos. 
- Archimandrite Nicholas (Sakharov), nephew of Elder Sophrony, author of I Love Therefore I Am.
- Archimandrite Raphael, disciple of Elder Sophrony since the beginnings of Essex Monastery, translator into Romanian language of Elder Sophrony' writings.
- Sister Magdalen, noted speaker, author of Children in the Church Today & Conversations with Children: Communicating our Faith. , 
- Sister Maria, mosaic iconographer. 
- I Love Therefore I Am, by Hmk Nicholas V Sakharov.
- Lee Carson and Scott McDermott's Trip to England, November 16, St. John the Baptist Monastery, Tolleshunt Knights, Essex.
- A Taste of Monastic Life, report by Dwynwen East on a pilgrimage done on 17-20 September 2003.
- CD recording of the Service of St Silouan the Athonite, chanted in Greek by Simonopetra Monastery, Mt Athos; copyrighted by St John the Baptist Monastery, Essex.