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On Tuesday the Russian Orthodox commemorate St. Sergius of Radonezh - 8 October, 2002

On Tuesday the Russian Orthodox Church commemorates St. Sergius, hegumen of Radonezh, one of the most venerated saints who founded the Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra (Monastery). St. Sergius deceased on that day 610 years ago.

RIA Novosti learned from the Moscow patriarchate's foreign church relations department that this morning Patriarch Alexyi II of Moscow and all Rus will serve liturgy in the Dormition Cathedral of the Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra.

St. Sergius was born in the village of Varnitsy near Rostov into the family of noble boyards Kirill and Maria on May 3rd, 1314. He was baptized and was given the name of Varfolomei.

According to the church legend, from the first days of his life Varfolomei surprised everyone by following the fast - on Wednesdays and Fridays he refused to drink his mother's milk, and would not accept her milk on days when Maria had eaten meat.

When Varfolomei turned 7 his parents sent him to study, but in spite of making great efforts to study, he lagged behind the other children of the same age. One day Varfolomei walked on the road and met the Holy Angel in the image of an old monk and asked him: "Please, pray to God to help me in my studies." The old man prayed and the boy's wish came true.

From that day onward Varfolomei's studies came easy to him and that is why, according to Orthodox tradition, the saint is considered an assistant in studies.

Around 1328, Varfolomei and his family moved to Radonezh. After his parents' death Varfolomei, together with his brother Stefan, withdrew into the forest and built a cell which they named in honour of the Holy Trinity. Stefan did not hold out the hardships of secluded life and soon left his brother to settle in the Moscow Epiphany monastery.

Varfolomei who was not frightened by life in the forest, took the vows and adopted the name of St. Martyr Sergius. People gradually learned about St. Sergius, monks came to him looking for spiritual guidance and before long the small hermitage grew into a fraternity of 12 monks. This was the origin of the spiritual centre of Rus, the gem of Orthodoxy - the Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra.

St. Sergius soon became known for working wonders - he cured the sick and resurrected deceased people. He also actively promoted the reconciliation of warring princes.

Grand prince Dmitry Donskoi collected his army and came to St. Sergius's monastery to ask to be blessed for the forthcoming Kulikovo Battle against the Tatar-Mongols. The saint also blessed two monks from his hermitage - the legendary Andrei (Oslyabyu) and Alexander (Peresvet) - to help Dmitry Donskoi and foretold his victory.

St. Sergius reached an advanced age and died in solitude on October 8th (according to the new calendar) in the year 1392. On the previous day Sergius called the monks of his hermitage and told them the following words that were meant as his bequest: "Above all, fear God, be pure of heart and soul, and show sincere love..." The relics of St. Sergius are kept to this day in the Trinity Cathedral of the monastery he had founded.

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