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The Monk Varlaam of Khutynsk

Com­mem­o­rat­ed on the 1st Fri­day of Apos­tles’ Fast and Novem­ber 6


The Monk Var­laam of Khutyn­sk lived in the XII Cen­tu­ry, the son of an illus­tri­ous Nov­goro­di­an, and he lived his child­hood years at Nov­gorod. With­draw­ing at an ear­ly age to the Lisich monastery near the city, the Monk Var­laam accept­ed ton­sure. Lat­er on he set­tled at a soli­tary hill below Volkhov, in a locale called Khutyn’, 10 ver­sts from Nov­gorod. In soli­tude the Monk Var­laam led a strict life, mak­ing unceas­ing prayer and keep­ing very strict fast. He was a zeal­ous ascetic in his tasks – he him­self felled tim­ber in the for­est, chopped fire­wood and tilled the soil, ful­fill­ing the words of Holy Scrip­ture: “If any shalt not work, nei­ther shalt he eat” (2 Thess. 3: 10). Cer­tain of the inhab­i­tants of Nov­gorod gath­ered to him, want­i­ng to share in monas­tic works and deeds. Instruct­ing those that came, the Monk Var­laam said: “My chil­dren, be obser­vant against all unright­eous­ness, and nei­ther envy nor slan­der. Refrain from anger, and give not mon­ey over for usury. Beware to judge unjust­ly. Do not swear false­ly giv­ing an oath, but rather ful­fill it. Be not indul­gent to the bod­i­ly appetites. Always be meek and bear all things with love. This virtue – is the begin­ning and root of all good”.

Soon there was erect­ed a church in hon­our of the Trans­fig­u­ra­tion of the Lord, and a monastery found­ed. The Lord sent down upon the monk, for his ser­vice to oth­ers, the gifts of won­der­work­ing and per­spi­cac­i­ty. When his days approached an end, by Divine Will there came from Con­stan­tino­ple the priest­monk Antonii – of the same age and a friend of the Monk Var­laam. The blessed saint, in turn­ing to him, said: “My beloved broth­er! God’s bless­ing doth rest upon this monastery. And now into thine hand I trans­fer this monastery. Watch over and take con­cern for it. I do expire to the King of Heav­en. But be not con­fused over this: while yet in the body I do leave you, still in spir­it I shalt be with you always”. Hav­ing bestown guid­ance unto the brethren, with the com­mand to pre­serve the Ortho­dox faith and dwell con­stant­ly in humil­i­ty, the Monk Var­laam reposed to the Lord on 6 Novem­ber 1192.

© 1996–2001 by trans­la­tor Fr. S. Janos.