Spaso-Yelizarovsky Monastery

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The Spaso-Yelizarovsky Monastery, Russian: Спасо-Елеазаровский женский монастырь, also Yelizarov (Spaso-Eleazar) Monastery, is a monastery of the Church of Russia for women located north of Pskov, Russia. The monastery was founded in 1447 as a monastery for men that gained renown through its igumen Philotheus of Pskov who is credited with authorship of the Legend of the White Cowl and the Third Rome prophesy.


The monastery was founded in 1447 by a local Pskov peasant named Eleazar whose concern for his neighbor abandoned life as a solitary in a cell that he began in 1425 and received everyone who was in need of an experienced Elder and guide. As his monastery grew, Euphrosynus, his monastic name, in 1447, built a wooden church in honor of the Three Holy Hierarchs Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, and John Chrysostom, who had appeared to him.

The rule established by Euphrosynus was one of generalized advice for monks about how to proceed on the monastic path, that is, "how it befits monks to dwell." He did not address the strict regulation of all aspects of monastic life, as did, for example, the Rule of St. Joseph of Volokolamsk. In the Rule of St. Euphrosynus there is nothing concerning the order of divine services.

Euphrosynus died at the advanced age of ninety-five, on May 15, 1481. He was interred in the wooden church had was built at the founding of Spaso-Yelizarovsky Monastery, as the monastery became known in his honor. St. Euphrosynus was glorified in 1551 at the Stoglavy Sobor. At the direction of Archbishop Gennadius of Novgorod an icon was placed at his crypt that had been painted by his disciple Ignatius while Euphrosynus was still alive. Also preserved was the last testament of the saint to the brethren on a piece of parchment, stamped with the lead seal of Archbishop Theophilus of Novgorod. This is one of very few surviving wills written by an ascetic in his own hand.

During the sixteenth century the monastery was fortified heavily. It also gained a position of prominence owing to the presence of igumen Philotheus of Pskov, who is credited with authorship of the Legend of the White Cowl and the Third Rome prophesy. It was while Philotheus was igumen that the monastery became known for its school of icon-painters and its still-standing cathedral was built. Some scholars believe that the only known copy of the Lay of Igor's Campaign was created by one of monks at the request of Philotheus.

The monastery was closed down after the Bolshevik revolution of 1917 and deteriorated until the closing years of the Soviet government in Russia when it was revived as a women's monastery. In recent years the monastery has received the patronage of Lyudmila Putina, wife of the Russian president and prime minister, Vladimir Putin.