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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Re: St Feofil of the Kiev Caves

Postby Barbara » Mon 19 November 2018 3:24 am

Tonight being the exact same night as the catastrophic event described here, I thought to post this example of St Feofil's prescient warning to Met Philaret of Kiev :

Soon after this, Vladika was again in Kitayev and, meeting Feofil in the monastery courtyard, stopped him and said:

"Well, mischievous one, I have not been in your cell for a long time. Today, after the liturgy, I'll drop in to your place for tea. Only see that you don't treat me with the same kind of tea as you did the last time."

"You are welcome, Your Eminence," answered the Starets, bowing to the ground before the Archpastor.

We do not know for certain whether the Metropolitan merely wanted to talk with the Blessed One or, remembering the charred log thrown under his feet [ by Feofil previously ], wanted to discover from him the significance of this act, but the fact is that after leaving the church at the end of the liturgy, Vladika went directly to Feofil.

And how did the Blessed One receive him? Upon returning to his cell, he immediately ordered his cell-mate to fill a barrel with water and then add sand to it. When a fairly good "gruel" was thus obtained, the Blessed One smeared the walls of his dwelling with the mud, also the door and door-post and then he spread the mud thickly on the floor. He then covered himself with mud and sat down on the stool in the middle of the room, solemnly awaiting his high guest.

In half an hour the door to the cell opened and the Metropolitan, having stepped in, stopped near the threshold in amazement.

Mud and disorder were everywhere and the master of the cell did not look like a monk but like someone who had just climbed out of a smoke-pipe.

"What is this?" the Archpastor asked angrily.

"Have no doubts, Your Eminence. Please. It's like this after the fire. I had a fire and I kept watering and watering it and so I became dirty."

The angered Archpastor threw a scornful glance at Feofil and retreated hastily. But just before he sat down in his carriage to depart, Feofil's cellmate, Ivan, ran up to him and presented him with three bottles of water.

"From whom is this? What is it for?" the Metropolitan asked.

"From Starets Feofil, Your Eminence. He ordered me to give this present to you and tell you that it will come in handy to pour on the charred log."

"To pour on the charred log? What is all this now? And what did he pour into these bottles? Try it!"

"Water," replied the cell-mate, "plain water, holy Vladika."

"Plain water?"

"Truly it is, Your Eminence."

"Well, place it in front of the coachman. It is evident that the culprit wanted to prophesy something."

Several weeks passed during late autumn. At twelve o'clock midnight on 18-19 November, 1844, Roman Baranov, a postulant at the Lavra, lighted the stove in the prosphora bakery, and together with the other postulants, began preparing the dough for baking prosphora. The supervisor of the prosphora bakery, Ryasaformonk Vasily Titov and the general supervisor of the bakery, Ryasaformonk Leonid Zatvorny, were preparing to partake of the Holy Mysteries and set out for matins. Upon leaving the church, they went to their cells to read the appointed prayers.

Suddenly, at three o'clock in the morning, the watchman, a postulant of the bakery, Iosif Alferov, noticed the pungent smell of smoke while walking along the corridor dividing the prosphora bakery from the main bakery. Alferov ran to investigate the back part of the courtyard where the wood was kept and where the wooden outbuildings stood, but finding nothing amiss, he glanced through the keyhole of a door which led up a ladder into the attic and saw a raging fire. He grabbed for the key but when he opened the door, the smoke hit him in the face with such force that Alferov recoiled in fear. On closer examination, it could be seen that the wooden scaffold had caught fire near the horizontal flue which led from the stove of the prosphora bakery to the smoke stack. The brothers came running with buckets and strove to extinguish the fire, but their efforts were hampered by the inconvenience of the route to the fire and because of the arrangement of the metal roof. The fire grew stronger and stronger and soon encompassed the entire prosphora bakery. To complete the misfortune, such a strong storm was raging that night that burning wood was carried all the way to Podol and even as far as the Florovsky Monastery.

On the morning of 19 November, the fire spread still farther and penetrated under the metal roof of the Lavra printing shop. The frightened Metropolitan, seeing that the fire was increasing in size and was threatening not only the remaining buildings, but the Great Lavra Church itself, no longer hoped in the weak power of humans.

Holy Dormition Cathedral, main Church of the celebrated Kiev Caves Lavra, where Met Philaret of Kiev went to pray early on Nov. 19, 1844 for the success of the firefighters in stopping the fire. [ This theme sounds familiar to our day and country ; however, never yet in the Western world has a news outlet reported a high Orthodox hierarch supplicating the Queen of Heaven via Her miracle-working Icon to end the fire -- !
Maybe this remedy should be tried today instead of applying solely practical efforts to curb fires. ]

He ordered the doors of the Great Church to be opened and he went there to pray. For a long time he knelt praying tearfully before the holy miraculous icon of the Dormition of the Mother of God, and he called to her in a loud voice, beseeching her help and intercession. After a while he arose, exhausted.

A sacristan had entered the church and stood at a respectful distance.

"Well, what is it?" the Metropolitan asked with a trembling voice.

"Glory be to God!" answered the sacristan. "By your holy prayers the Lavra is saved."

The Metropolitan crossed himself and sighed with relief. Then he walked out of the church and set out for the sight of the inferno. A large gathering of police, firemen, serfs, and armoury and garrison commands had been working together and the fire slowly began to die down. In several hours the flames in the printing shop and other buildings were completely extinguished.

The losses in buildings from the Lavra fire were quite insignificant since only the roofing had burnedwhile the walls remained intact. But when the losses of the huge storage of books and printing machines were calculated, the sum was quite significant, about 80,000 rubles (Archives of the Kievo-Pecherskaya Lavra, Matter No. 2520). ... art-8.html


Unfortunately, it was only after a long record of being right -- and this obvious warning which St Feofil gave directly to the Metropolitan himself -- that the latter finally surrendered his suspicion and trusted the wise Starets.

My belief is that Met Philaret of Kiev was too much under the influence of Schemamonk Parthenius [Parfeny] (Krasnopevtsev), the spiritual father he selected and whose counsel he prized like diamonds, to view objectively the actions of the Holy Feofil.

>>>Certainly, it would have been better if the Metropolitan had yielded earlier ; had he heeded Feofil's warning, he could quite possibly have saved the Lavra the gigantic sum of 80,000 rubles, widespread deep trauma, not to mention the costly repair bills.

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