St Feofil of the Kiev Caves

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Re: St Feofil of the Kiev Caves

Postby Barbara » Wed 3 October 2018 3:42 am

Adding this post onto the main St Feofil thread :

Few holy figures were as vehemently opposed to smoking as Starets Feofil of the Kiev Caves. If only his approach had been widespread instead of rare, there may not have been such wild behavior during the Revolution half a century later after Feofil's time.

But not only ruffians were smoking. Even cultured members of the intelligentsia smoked, as well as members of the Imperial House such as Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna, sister of Tsar Nicholas II. See viewtopic.php?f=6&t=12637&p=74065&hilit=Grand+Duchess+Xenia#p74065 ]

Here is a marvelous story of Feofil's miracle to wake up an otherwise well-intentioned Church writer, historian and journalist :

"Aside from his love and compassion for animals and birds, Starets Feofil had other customs and habits. To begin with, he disliked smokers and could not bear the smell of tobacco.

"You see, you've become intoxicated with the devil's poison," he would sternly reproach his visitors who smoked. "You've come to the cloister to spread the tobacco infection. Of what good is it for you to approach the Holy Mysteries tomorrow with that tobacco on your breath? Go away from me! You don't have my blessings!"

Once Feofil was walking along a lane of the monastery yard with a devotee from the city and was carrying a crock of grated winter-radish in kvas, when he was approached by Viktor Ignatievich Askochensky, the editor-publisher of the journal "Domestic Discussions". He was puffing away on a cigar.

As he opened his mouth to speak, he exhaled tobacco smoke right into Feofil's food. The Blessed One said nothing but dipped his finger into the crock and sprinkled the smoker with some of the liquid.

Upon returning home, Askochensky sat down to dinner, but the dish served had an overwhelming odour of winter-radish. Askochensky did not suspect the cause of this. He only sent the serving back and asked for another. It was brought, but again, the same odour prevailed. At this point Askochensky became angry and began chastising the cook and servants. But there was no explanation for the odour. The second course was served, and again, the dish set before Askochensky reeked of winter-radish. It was the same with the third course. Askochensky became very agitated. He stormed out of the house and went to the home of a friend.

Upon being received by his friend, he was greeted with the comment that he smelled strongly of winter-radish. Nevertheless, he asked his friend for something to eat, explaining about the careless preparation of the food at home which rendered it inedible. How great was his amazement when even at his friend's table the food reeked with the odour of winter-radish. Utterly bewildered, he went to the bakery to buy some cookies. He returned home and sat down to tea and cookies,

Russian tea with tea cookies. Let's hope Viktor Ignatievich consumed ones like these which are vegan and gluten - free !

but, alas, they too bore the stench of winter-radish. For three days poor Askochensky was driven to utter despair. Everyone he met commented on how much he reeked of winter-radish.

The unfortunate man tried desperately to find the cause of this phenomenon and finally he remembered the encounter with Starets Feofil. Conscious of the impropriety of his act, he set out to Kitayev to the Blessed One. He begged forgiveness and straightway the unpleasant odour disappeared." ... art-5.html

Now, quite opposite to the vague, gossamer spider web stories spun by the creators of the Abp Luke 'the Blessed Surgeon' and 'Matrona of Moscow' legends, here we have precise testimony of Feofil's wonder-working ability. This was no novice reporter for the faraway Kamchatka Gazette, but a famous author based in Kiev itself. We have a picture of this man who suffered the winter-radish odor affliction.

and we know even today who he was and what he accomplished. Wikipedia informs us :

"Viktor Ipatyevich Askochensky (Russian: Виктор Ипатьевич Аскоченский, 13 October 1813—30 May 1879) was a Russian writer, journalist and historian.

Born in Voronezh into a clergyman's family and a Kiev Theological Academy's alumnus, Askochensky the historian is best remembered for his work on the history of the [sic] Orthodoxy in Ukraine. Much discussed was his novel The Asmodeus of Our Times (Асмодей нашего времени, 1858), a passionate paean to Orthodoxy. In 1858 Askochensky launched the magazine Domashnyaya Beseda (Home Soliloqy) which he edited for twenty years until 1877 when he became hospitalized for mental illness. He spent the rest of his days in the Peter and Paul Hospital in Saint Petersburg, where he died on 30 May 1879. He is interred in the Coastal Monastery of Saint Sergius.

Apparently, the writer Sergei Nilus was in favor of Askochensky's conservative, Church-based ideas, while Feodor Dostoevsky was opposed to them.

Therefore, we know that Askochensky made his mark on the thought of his day. He was a Slavophile ; his novel was written to counter radical ideas of the age with religious-based ideals. Thus liberals could not stand him and some historians belittle Askochensky as 'a reactionary', which sounds like Soviet terminology though the description comes from a Western author.

While the Kievan publisher's journal appeared only in 1858, while St Feofil reposed in October 1853, this discrepancy is explained by the fact that these stories were collected and compiled into a book quite some time after Feofil's death. Thus, readers at that time would have recognized Askochensky's name from the title of the publication, Domestic Discussions - as it is translated above. Wikipedia rendered this as Home Soliloquy <-- and spelled it wrong.

Moreover, Askochensky was buried in a highly prestigious cemetery :

"Some of the noblest and richest families of Imperial Russia, including the Galitzines, the Stroganovs and the Yusupovs, patronised the monastery and had their burial vaults on the grounds. The local cemetery is the burial site of a number of Russian nobles, including the Zubov brothers, Prince Alexander Gorchakov, Duke Peter Georgievich of Oldenburg... The graves of the Dukes of Oldenburg and Leuchtenberg, both closely related to the Russian imperial family, were either lost or desecrated during the Soviet period.

"It used to be one of the richest monasteries of the Russian Empire and formerly contained seven churches as well as many chapels." -

Unidentified exquisite Church at the Coastal Monastery of St Sergius, at Strelna outside St Petersburg. Postcard tellingly has translation into French rather than what it would be today [English], reminding one how the French language was used for international communications in the Western world for centuries up til the late 19th century.
Note the extra-tall klobouks on the 2 monks.

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Re: St Feofil of the Kiev Caves

Postby Barbara » Mon 8 October 2018 3:16 am

And this as well :

Eldress Magdalena of the Kiev Florovsky Convent related this rebuff by St Feofil of a smoker pilgrim which she herself witnessed :

"Once, a wealthy merchant and his wife arrived from Moscow and stopped over at the Florovsky Monastery.


Having heard our stories about Starets Feofil, the merchant became excited with a desire to visit him. He begged me to accompany him and his wife since he was not familiar with the way to the Kitayevskaya Hermitage. I agreed and we all set out. While riding through the Goloseyevo woods, the merchant desired to smoke. He felt his pockets but there were no matches. What was he to do?

As luck would have it, he saw some wayfarers sitting beside the road making porridge in a trivit. He went over to them and began to light his cigarette. But no sooner had he touched the fire than the trivit turned over, spilling out the porridge and smothering the fire.

'How strange! I didn't even touch the trivit and yet I upset the porridge.'

We went on farther. The merchant again spotted some strangers cooking gruel by the side of the road. He ran to their fire for a light, but just as he stooped towards the fire, this trivit also upset.

'What a strange occurrence! Could this be some sort of witchcraft?' the merchant laughed.

'No,' I said to him, 'Father Feofil is arranging this for you. He dislikes with a passion those who smoke.'

At last we arrived at Kitayev and went to see Starets Feofil. He met us and spoke out directly to the merchant.

'Well, my little swallow, you wanted to smoke so badly? Due to your passion, you left the hungry without food.'

Then Feofil brought him a large onion from his cell, saying:


'Here, take a bite of onion, for you have befouled the entire monastery with tobacco.'

This was the kind of visionary he was." ... art-5.html

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