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Possessors

Possessors. Party in a monastic controversy in Russian Orthodoxy. St Joseph of Volokalamsk (1439–1515) argued that monks should live lives of poverty and asceticism, but that monasteries should accumulate wealth in order to serve and support the Church. His followers were enthusiastic patrons of musicians, builders, and icon-painters. He and they were also severe against heretics. In contrast, the Non-Possessors, led by St Nil(us) Sorsky (c.1433–1508) believed that the whole Church is called to poverty, and that heretics should be treated with understanding and patience. Both were canonized by the Council of 1551, but the position of St Joseph was endorsed. However, the view of St Nil was kept alive, first by the ‘holy fool’ tradition (salos/yurodivy), along with mystical teachers and hermits, and then by the Old Believers.

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