Sophrony (Sakharov)

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Archimandrite Sophrony (Sakharov), also Elder Sophrony, was best known as the biographer of St Silouan the Athonite and compiler of St Silouan's works, and as the founder of the Patriarchal Stavropegic Monastery of St. John the Baptist in Tolleshunt Knights, Maldon, Essex, England.


  • 1896 Sep 23: Sergei Symeonovich Sakharov born to Orthodox parents in Russia.
  • 1915: Studied at Academy of Arts until 1917.
  • 1920: Studied at Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture until 1921. At around this time he developed an interest in, and delves into, Oriental mystical religions based on the impersonal Absolute.
  • 1921: Left Russia, partly to continue artistic career abroad, and partly because he was not a Marxist.
  • 1922: Arrived in Paris. Artistic exhibitions attracted attention of French media.
  • 1924: Returns to Christianity on Great Saturday. Experiences Uncreated Light, distances himself from his art.
St. Sergius Orthodox Theological Institute begins. Sergei among first students.
  • 1925: Finding formal theological study to be unfulfilling, Sergei leaves the Institute and Paris for Mount Athos.
  • 1926: Fr Sophrony arrived at Mt Athos, entering St. Panteleimon Monastery.
  • 1930: Fr Sophrony ordained to the diaconate by St Nicolai of Zicha. Becomes disciple of St Silouan the Athonite.
  • 1938: St Silouan reposes. Following St Silouan's instructions, Elder Sophrony left the monastery grounds to reside in the Athonite desert; first at Karoulia, then at a cave near St Paul's Monastery.
  • 1941: Fr Sophrony ordained to the priesthood, and becomes a spiritual father.
  • 1947: Circumstances forced Elder Sophrony to move to Paris. He restarts education at St Sergius, but problems with faculty concerning differences of perception of the Moscow Patriarchate preclude this. He has a major stomach operation on an ulcer and resides in a Russian old-age home, assisting the priest and acting as father confessor.
  • 1948: Elder Sophrony produces first edition of Staretz Silouan on hand-roneo.
  • 1950: Elder Sophrony works with Vladimir Lossky on the Messager de l’Exarchat du Patriarche Russe en Europe Occidentale until 1957.
  • 1952: Elder Sophrony produces a professional second edition of Staretz Silouan. This book brought much fame to both St Silouan and Elder Sophrony.
  • 1958: Elder Sophrony had many people living near him and seeking the monastic life. A property at Tolleshunt Knights, Maldon, Essex, England was inspected.
  • 1959: Community of St John the Baptist formed at Tolleshunt Knights under Metropolitan Anthony (Bloom) of Sourozh. Monastery has both monks and nuns, and numbers six.
  • 1965: Monastery of St John the Baptist moved under the Ecumenical Patriarchate's omophorion. Later, the Ecumenical Patriarchate would upgrade the Monastery to Stavropegic.
  • 1973: Publication of a more complete translation of Monk of Mt Athos (the life of St Silouan).
  • 1975: Publication of Wisdom of Mt Athos (the writings of St Silouan).
  • 1977: His Life is Mine published.
  • 1985: We Shall See Him As He Is published, to mixed reviews: the West generally enjoyed the book, the Russians generally criticised the book. Some criticism was so stinging that it, along with illness, discouraged Elder Sophrony from writing again.
  • 1987: Ecumenical Patriarchate glorifies St Silouan the Athonite.
  • 1993 Jul 11: At Elder Sophrony's repose, there were 25 other monastics at his monastery.


  • Staretz Silouan, 1948, 1952.
  • Monk of Mt Athos, 1973.
  • Wisdom of Mt Athos, 1975.
  • His Life is Mine, 1977.
  • We Shall See Him As He Is, 1985.


  • "No one on this earth can avoid affliction; and although the afflictions which the Lord sends are not great men imagine them beyond their strength and are crushed by them. This is because they will not humble their souls and commit themselves to the will of God. But the Lord Himself guides with His grace those who are given over to God's will, and they bear all things with fortitude for the sake of God Whom they have so loved and with Whom they are glorified for ever. It is impossible to escape tribulation in this world but the man who is giver over to the will of God bears tribulation easily, seeing it but putting his trust in the Lord, and so his tribulations pass."