Sergius of Radonezh, St.
SERGIUS OF RADONEZH, ST.
Russian monk and ascetical master; b. Rostov, May 3, 1314; d. Radonezh, Sergian monastery of the Trinity (near Moscow), Sept. 25, 1392. Sergius came from a once rich family, and his early years, as recorded by his biographer and disciple, Epiphanius the Wise, were filled with marvelous incidents. As a child he played truant rather than learn to read and write, until one day a mysterious monk changed his life. He then began to read the Bible, the books of the liturgy, and the Fathers, and visited the nearby monasteries. In spite of a desire for solitude, he
remained with his parents until their death (1334). He retired to the forest of Radonezh (1336), became a priest, and built a chapel in honor of the Trinity that by 1354 became a monastic center (the troitskaya laura) at the request of the patriarch of Constantinople. Austere with himself, Sergius showed great humanity toward others, and in humility refused the Patriarchate of Moscow (1378).
His reputation of sanctity based on the miracles and visions with which he was credited caused his monastery of the Trinity to become a center of religious attraction for all Russians. He went on missions of peace to the various Russian princes with the hope of consolidating Russian hegemony under the principality of Moscow against the ravages of the Tatars. On his advice Prince Dimitri resolved to repel the attack of the Mongols in 1380. While Sergius left no literary heritage, his disciples founded many monasteries and spread his teaching in such fashion that his monastery of the Trinity became a principal influence in Russian spirituality.
Feast: Sept. 25.
Bibliography: Life by epiphanius the wise in Monuments de l'ancienne littérature 58 (St. Petersburg 1885). n. zernov, Saint Sergius, Builder of Russia (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge; London 1939). p. kovalevsky, Saint Serge et la spiritualité russe (Paris 1958). l. mÜller, Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart, 7 v. (3d ed. Tübingen 1957–65) 5:1712–13. s. stasiewski, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (2d, new ed. Freiburg 1957–65) 9:689. i. kologriwof, Das andere Russland (Munich 1958) 93–123. i. smolitsch, Russisches Mönchtum (Würzburg 1953). e. benz, Russische Heiligenlegenden (Zurich 1953) 292–362.