Sts. Ferapont and Martinian. The Virgin Nativity Cathedral wall painting. Section of Central Lengthwise Nave North View

Sts. Ferapont and Martinian




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Ferapontov Monastery

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St. Ferapont of Mozhaisk (Belozero), Miracle-worker from Luzhki. c.1337-1426

The fates of St. Cyril of Belozero and St. Ferapont of Mozhaisk are intertwined hence some facts of St. Ferapont’s life can be verified in the biography of St. Cyril compiled by Pakhomy the Serb (Logofet).

St. Ferapont of Mozhaisk (Belozero), miracle-worker from Luzhki was born around 1337 in the town of Volokolamsk into a noble family of the Poskochins and was christened with the name of Fyodor. From early childhood he was brought up in an atmosphere of strong faith, piety and love which had a beneficial effect on his life.

At the mature age of 40 Fyodor Poskochin secretly left home and went to the Moscow Simonov Monastery founded by St. Theodore, a nephew of St. Sergius of Radonezh, and asked the hegumen (abbot) for a permission to become a monk. The novice was guided by an experienced elder (starets) and very soon his strict life earned the favour of his fellow monks.  In the Simonov Monastery St. Ferapont was drawn to Cyril of Belozero, with whom they shared obediences, fasting and prayer. St. Sergius of Radonezh often visited the monastery and talked about ‘spiritual worth’ with the monks out of whom he singled out St. Cyril.

Monks Cyril and Ferapont spent about 25 years in the Simonov Monastery performing various obediences. St. Ferapont’s biography describes him as “though not a saint nor advanced in reading or writing, but kind in his heart and soul and of sound mind”. Possibly, that is why the archimandrite and brothers trusted him and sent him on business to the far lands. Once, St. Ferapont was sent by the monastery to the northern Belozero region, and drawn by its austerity, he resolved to settle down there for his further exploits. When he returned to the monastery he told St. Cyril about the northern secluded lands. St. Cyril especially worshiped the Mother of God and the Theotokos appeared to him and told him to go to the north. Having received the hegumen’s blessing, Cyril and Ferapont set off for the Belozero land.

After a long search, Cyril finally found the place he had seen in the miraculous appearance. On the shore of Siverskoye Lake, a wooden cross was raised and the foundation of the St. Cyril cloister was laid. Later on, Ferapont left his spiritual brother and moved to another place of solitude.

In 1398, when Ferapont settled down 15 verts (16km) away from Cyril’s monastery he had no intention to set up another cloister, he was just looking for solitude and silence. He lived a life of a hermit. At first he suffered privations and trials in his seclusion and more than once was attacked by brigands who tried to oust or kill him but retreated ashamed and humbled.

As time went by, monks started coming to St. Ferapont asking for permission to share his labour and solitude and gradually the wilderness turned into the monastery later named after Ferapont. The saint did not agree to be the hegumen and, as we learn from his sacred biography, he called himself “the most sinful”. The monastery was headed by somebody else whose name remained anonymous while the founder did the hardest work: he chopped firewood and carried water for all monks. The cloister developed: monks worked together with their teacher and built their cells, copied books, decorated the first wooden church consecrated in the name of the Nativity of the Mother of God. A coenobitic charter was introduced and strictly observed by the monks. The fame of the saint’s deeds spread far beyond Belozero region.

St. Ferapont spent ten years in his peaceful cloister hoping to finish his days there. However, once he was visited by the governor of the Grand Prince of Mozhaisk Andrei Dmitrievich, the son of the Grand Prince Dmitry Donskoy, who was greatly impressed by the conversation with the elder and communicated it to his master. At the beginning of the 15th century, the lands of the St. Cyril and St. Ferapont monasteries belonged to the appanage of the Grand Prince of Mozhaisk Andrei Dmitrievich who welcomed the foundation of two new monasteries by disciples of the great Sergius of Radonezh. The grand prince was seized with a desire to have a similar monastery near himself and asked St. Ferapont to set up one. At first the latter declined the proposal for he did not want to come out ‘to mock people’ but upon prayerful contemplation and his brothers’ advice, he set out on his long journey.

In Mozhaisk the saint was received with great honours and shortly afterwards not far from the town in a place called Luzhki, which was a hilly right side of the Moskva River, Ferapont founded the Luzhki (Luzhetsky) Monastery with the principal Cathedral of the Virgin Nativity  similar to the Belozero cloister. The Grand Prince Andrei Dmitrievich, who esteemed the saint for his genuine resignation, generously helped the monastery in the construction and decoration. The Metropolitan of Moscow Photius blessed and bestowed the title of archimandrite on St. Ferapont.

The saint lived in the new cloister 18 years and died at an extremely old age on 27 May 1426.

Although St. Ferapont spent the end of his life in Mozhaisk lands, he is known as the Belozero miracle-worker and his name is connected with his favourite cloister, the St. Ferapont Belozero Monastery, for ever.

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Other materials:

Aristotle Fioravanti (Fioravanti del Albertini, Rudolfo)

Cost of works

Dionisy and Andrei Rublev

Dionisy’s sons Theodosius and Vladimir

Fresco technique

Genealogy of Icon Painter Dionisy

Milestones of the St. Ferapont Belozero Monastery

St. Cyril of Belozero

St. Ferapont of Mozhaisk (Belozero), Miracle-worker from Luzhki

St. Joseph, Hegumen of Volotsk

St. Martinian of Belozero

St. Paphnutius of Borovsk, Hegumen and Miracle-Worker

St. Paul Of Obnorsk and Komelsk. Vologda miracle-worker

St. Sergius of Radonezh

Team painting

The Simonov Monastery



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