would end that there were no liturgical calendars ready for the years following 1492, and they had to be prepared that year by Metropolitan Zosima.54
The impact of St Sergii on Russian culture was huge, and not just in terms of his ubiquitous symbolic value as the 'Builder of Russia'.55 His immense reputation ensured that he was canonised soon after his death; his relics were uncovered in 1422 and the first church built in his honour was constructed in Novgorod in 1460. The decades around 1400 have been termed the 'Sergievan' period,56 so great was his impact on society of the time, and the centre of intellectual and cultural life for much of this period was the monastery he founded, now called the Trinity-St Sergii, 70 kilometres north-east of Moscow. Sergii revitalised both the cenobitic tradition of Russian monasticism (a truly common life, with shared possessions and communal living in contrast to the more prevalent idiorrhythmic regime where monks lived separately and simply worshipped together) and the eremitic tradition, the practice of a solitary monastic life.
This eremitic tradition, through the example of St Sergii, impacted upon the social and geographical fabric of Russia in the colonisation of the northern territories. The Life of St Sergii ofRadonezh portrays the manner in which the numerous monastic houses were founded during this period. An individual monk searching for silence and solitude sets up a hermitage.57 He is joined by a small group of brothers seeking his spiritual guidance, and a new monastery develops which attracts more visitors, from which monks leave to seek a quieter place of prayer. This cycle was repeated over and over again by Sergii's disciples. Reputed to have established ten monasteries himself before his death, Sergii prepared a generation of monks who, together with their spiritual sons, subsequently founded the spectacular monasteries of the northern territories such as the Holy Dormition monastery of Kirill-Belozerskii (founded in 1397 by St Kirill, a monk of the Simonov monastery, where St Sergii of Radonezh's nephew was abbot), the Nativity of the Mother of God monastery of Ferapontov (founded in 1398) and the Saviour-Transfiguration monastery at Solovki.
54 M. S. Flier, 'Till the end oftime: the Apocalypse in Russian historical experience before 1500', in Orthodox Russia, ed. Kivelson and Greene, 127-58.
55 N. Zernov, St Sergius, builder of Russia, with the life, acts and miracles of the holy abbot Sergius ofRadonezh (London: SPCK, 1939).
56 R. Milner-Gulland, 'Russia's lost Renaissance', in Literature and western civilization, ed. D. Daiches and A. K. Thorlby (London: Aldus, 1973), 111, 435-68.
57 Zhitie SergiiaRadonezhskogo, in BibliotekaLiteratury DrevneiRusi, iv, XIV-seredinaXVveka, ed. D. S. Likhachev etal. (St Petersburg: Nauka, 1999), 256-411; M. Klimenko, The 'Vita' of St Sergii ofRadonezh (Houston, TX: Nordland, 1980).
Was this article helpful?