Life of Hieroschemamonk Feofil Part 6

The life of, Fool-for-Christ's sake, blessed Hieroschemamonk, Feofil (Theophilus). Chapter 6.

Chapter 6

The pilgrims

Few people had the chance to approach Starets Feofil for his blessing. He spent entire days in the woods at prayer and would return home to the hermitage only towards vespers in order to be in time for the beginning of the Divine Service. If anyone succeeded in approaching him, the Starets would give his blessing without stopping, as if in a great hurry. In general, the Blessed One disliked having attention turned upon him and thus being distracted from his prayers.

When he noticed pilgrims waiting for him on the road, he would turn off somewhere to the side, into the bushes, or if it was in the cloister itself, he would climb to the top of a large oak growing near the hostel, or he would hide in the monastery orchard in a deep hole which he had dug for that purpose.

The Gardener

The keeper of the orchard was a "learned gardener", Ioakim Panfilych, one of the Lavra postulants, a master of his own wort and well-liked by Metropolitan Filaret. He would become very irritated with the Blessed One for hiding in the orchard while his admirers trampled through the garden searching for him. Several times Panfilych scolded the Starets and finally, irritated by his constant gentleness, the gardener struck Feofil in the face. The Blessed One was not confused by this and, as if answering with gratitude, bowed to the ground before the offender.

"Judge, O Lord, those who offend me, struggle with those who struggle with me," he whispered quietly and added, "Ioakim, do not dream that the Metropolitan likes you. You will never be a monk."

Soon the words of the Blessed One were proven true. Ioakim was transferred to the Lavra Caves and from there he was soon removed completely from the monastery because of some of his actions.

The Intellectuals

Feofil particularly disliked meeting with intellectuals and those who rose above the ranks of the common people. Most of all he disliked the so called "coach people"; that is, those who came in coaches, often for the sole purpose of looking at Feofil as some sort of oddity.

"What do you want of a smelly creature like me?" he used to ask his persistent admirers. "What are you seeking from me, a wretched, poor starets and a great sinner?"

"A kind word, Batiushka, advice, instruction, comfort," the visitor usually replied.

"Go to Schemamonk Parfeny. He will teach you, but I have nothing to say. Turn to the All-Holy Theotokos and the holy fathers of the Pecherskaya Lavra with pure faith and they will give you all that is necessary, but I have nothing."

The Worldly

Moreover, the Starets sometimes pushed away those who stood near, and quickly walked away from them. And in reality, what answers could he give them? They usually asked purely worldly questions. Some would ask for his advice for the successful outcome of their lawsuit in which a poor man would have to suffer, others tried to find out if their son would receive a prominent position with an eminent person; another wanted advice on marrying a son to a wealthy bride, or a daughter to a famous groom. Some even asked for prayers to receive great rewards or high pensions. But few even thought to get advice on the one thing that is necessary for man — the salvation of his soul.

In order to avoid similar useless receptions, and to escape from undesired, tiresome visitors, the Blessed One selected a very original means. He would spread tar or pitch on the doorstep of his cell and would thus be delivered from idle talkers.

The Pious and Simple

But if a truly pious and simple person, thirsting for a useful word should appear, the Starets willingly accepted him, although not spending too much time with him. Feofil would absolve him with a stern reproach which revealed his secret sins.

"It was strange to see," witnesses have said, "how the Blessed One heard the confessions of the people who came to him. He did not ask for their sins as spiritual fathers usually do, but having placed his saintly hands on the head of the person confessing and looking up to heaven, he himself listed all the secret and known sins. At this, not only did the penitent shed tears of emotion, but from fear and shame, even the hair of his head would stand up on end."

The Profiteer

In the town of Vasilkovo, there lived a profiteer who had made a fortune in shady business dealings. All his life had been lived in depravity, dishonesty, and evil. He had built up a large estate for his old age, but having retired to take advantage of it, he became afflicted with a gnawing conscience. He resolved to repent of his sins and seek forgiveness. He had heard many stories about the great podvizhnik, Hieroschemamonk Feofil, and he set out for Kiev in the hope of spending some time with him.

The visionary Starets, foreseeing the visit of the profiteer, decided to anticipate his arrival by meeting him before he reached the hermitage. For this purpose he set out into the woods and for days awaited the merchant on the road where the Red Tavern was located. Soon the carriage appeared with the profiteer-merchant seated importantly within. He noticed the monk walking in his direction, and he came out of the carriage and walked towards the monk.

"How do you do, Batiushka!?

"Well, and how do you do, sir merchant!"

"Is it far from here to the hermitage?"

"Which one do you want?"


"It is high unto God, far to the Tsar, but the hermitage is closest of all. What is your matter? To pray to God?"

"Something like that, but most of all I want to see the schemamonk that is called Feofil. You couldn't tell me where he lives?"

"Of what use is he to you?"

"They say that he is very holy, a visionary."

"Who, Feofil?"

"Yes, the hieroschemamonk."

"What kind of holiness is that? You have believed all that old wives' nonsense?"

"How could this be? All say..."

"You don't say! But he is such an evil-doer, such a fornicator, you couldn't find such a villain in the whole world. He ravished other women, seduced maidens, stole his neighbours horses at night, lent money to the poor at outrageous interest rates. How marry orphans he has let out into the world without any clothing, how many people he has destroyed through shady business and deception! He has grown a fat belly on other people's goods and now he has the desire to approach God. He has come to Starets Feofil with a pile of deathly sins on stolen horses. Well, repent, repent. Pray to God. The Lord is merciful. He doesn't want a sinner's death, only his change to a life for Him."

But the amazed horse-dealer had already felt in his heart that this was Feofil and had already dropped to the feet of the Starets weeping tears of repentance on them.

"Forgive me, Batiushka. Absolve me, accursed murderous swindler and villain that I am."

"God will forgive, God will forgive. Go to God's saints. Bow to them. Pray to them. They will expiate you. They will forgive everything. Your father was a righteous man and for his prayers God will have mercy on you."

"No, He will not have mercy on me. I have angered His infinite benevolence too much."

"He will forgive, He will forgive. Only don't fall into errors again through carelessness and thereby litter the beneficent sources which have cleaned the soul today by your repentance. Don't cease praying, don't give freedom to your passions. Guard your forgiveness, love and retain the fear of God. Go!"

The merchant promptly set out for the Lavra and spent many hours telling the monks of the caves about his encounter with Feofil.

The Landowner

On another occasion the Blessed One met a passing land-owner in the Kitayev woods and said:

"Where are you going?"

"Home, Batiushka!"

"And have you settled up with God?"

The landowner was puzzled but went ahead without a reply.

"You didn't settle?" said the Starets following him. "So remember, you came here well, but you will not return home healthy."

And what happened? On the return trip, right next to the town gates, the horses bolted and overturned the carriage. The landowner fell against a stone and was killed.

And here is another case.

The widow

Near the city of Kerch on the Taman there lived a colonel's widow named Alexandra Sokolova. She and her sister went to Kitayev and she asked the Starets for his blessing.

"Teach her, the silly thing," the Blessed One said to the sister, pointing at Sokolova. "Teach her better, or else she will ride horses until her death."

But Sokolova gave the words no significance. Upon returning home to her estate, she ordered a carriage to be harnessed and set out for Kerch on business. The horses became frightened of something on the road, bolted and Sokolova flew out of the carriage. She died that very day.

The Assistant Regulator

And there was another incident. Once Starets Feofil came to the Great Lavra Church and having found a place for himself at one of the stalls along the walls of the church, he began to pray. During the reading of the Kathisma, he decided to go and reverence the tombs of the saints reposing in the church and he left his Psalter at the stall and went to the tomb of Saint Feodosy. The reader and the assistant regulator noticed this and decided to play a joke on Feofil by hiding his Psalter. The Blessed One returned to the body of the church and he did not even glance at his former standing place. Instead he walked straight to the assistant regulator who had hidden the Psalter in his pocket.

"Oh elder, elder. You must die tomorrow and you want to play evil tricks today. Woe unto you."

'The prediction occurred precisely. On the next morning, the elderly monk suddenly died.

The clothing

Starets Feofil maintained a good supply of clothing in his cell as many philanthropic persons would send him all manner of garments for his charities. The Blessed One would spot a tattered person and immediately invite him to his place and feed him dumplings and give him a new shirt or even reclothe him from head to toe.

Once a worker from the Lavra brick factory, Ivan Bolshakov, came to him. He had received his monthly wages but went straight out and drank it up to the last penny. And so, ragged to the utmost, he went to the Blessed One for charity.

"Why alms for you?" the Starets asked him. "You'll drink it all just the same. But here, let me give you a new shirt. You will die today and it will not be becoming to lie in the coffin with rags on."

Ivan Bolshakov received the new shirt and thought, "Just you wait for me to die. I'll dash over to the tavern right now, sell the shirt and have a good drink to your health."

He did just as he had planned. He drank himself into a stupor and towards evening he came to the brick factory. He danced, sang songs, and played the fool. To all those present, he related how he got the shirt from Feofil and about the death prediction. Finally, he asked permission to sleep at the factory and having received it, he climbed up into the highest berth, right under the ceiling. During the night there was a sudden loud thud. The lights were put on and there was Ivan Bolshakov lying on the floor, his face all blood, not breathing. They felt his heart but there was no beat. The poor fellow was dead.

What was to be done? Bolshakov did not even have a shirt to be buried in, so the workers used anything they could find to put on him. He was given a Christian burial but the story of the shirt and the Starets' prediction are still talked about.

The noblewoman and her son

A noblewoman, Maria Kozminishna Shepeleva, often came to the Kitayevskaya Hermitage with her four year old son, and she always went to Starets Feofil for a blessing. The Blessed One liked her very much and each time he met her in the monastery yard he would look at her young son and say, "Aha! Here comes a little monk."

Once he called the child to his cell and gave him a pile of treacle-cakes. "Hold out your hands. Eat the cakes." The boy ate them up with gusto and the Starets encouraged him, "Eat, eat. When you grow up you will accept Christ, not treacle-cakes."

The Starets' prophecy came to pass. The child grew up, was sent to the Lavra printing shop for instruction, then he became postulant and later a spiritual father in the Lavrafi respected by all.

Once the Blessed One called to his cell-mate, Pantelelmon, and said:

"Bow to the feet of this boy. Kiss the hand of your spiritual father."

When the boy grew up and became a hieroschemamonk, he tonsured Panteleimon before the latter's death and then buried him.

The chief supervisor

The chief supervisor in the building of the Kiev-Vladimir-Cathedral, Kondrat Kozmich Khovalkin, wishing to spend the remainder of his days in peace and tranquility, began to build a house for himself in Kiev but grief suddenly befell him. His favourite daughter died, the single comfort and consolation of his lonely life. With sorrow in his heart, Khovalkin set out to Starets Feofil for consolation.

"Why do you grieve?" the Blessed One answered him. "Sit in a cell and say the prayer of Jesus, 'O Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.' Everything will pass." "It can hardly pass, Batiushka. In the face of the deceased one the light of my life perished for me." "The light of your life is the unsetting Sun, Jesus Christ. Buy yourself a mantle. You will soon be a monk."

Sometime later Kondrat Kozmich entered the brotherhood of the Goloseyevskaya Hermitage as a postulant, built a monastery hostel there, and began a podvig of salvation. Soon he became blind, was tonsured into monkhood with the name of Erazm and lived for several years in solitude in a small cell near the church. When he died on 15 August, 1880, he was buried several steps from the grave of the starets, Parfeny.

The middle class youth

A middle class youth of Kiev, Ferapont Dobrovolsky, felt a great desire to become a postulant at the Lavra. For three days he went with his mother to see the Starets for a blessing, but Feofil kept avoiding talks with the visitor, sending him either to the hostel or to church. On the third day when Ferapont and his mother became fairly hungry and it seemed that their visit would have to be prolonged, the youth turned to the cell-mate Ivan for help. He took pity on them and sent Ferapont to the Starets' cell.

"Why are you hanging around here, grovelling? Am I a saint?" the Starets angrily asked the youth.

In a minute he sent out a little piece of bread and soaked cabbage for Ferapont and his mother. The instant the young man tasted the food. he felt his hunger had disappeared. In half an hour the Starets again came out of his cell and Ferapont, seeing him, fell at his feet.

"Give me your blessing for the Lavra, Batiushka!"

"What kind of blessing shall I give you? You will never become a priest-monk. Go to the Lavra and live the life of a common monk. Only live well. Don't eat fish on Wednesdays or Fridays and don't ever miss the matins service."

Ferapont Dobrovolsky was accepted into the Lavra and was tonsured a monk with the name Spiridon. For fifty-one years he lived in the Lavra as a plain monk, faithfully fulfilling the directions of the Blessed One, never missing even one matins service.

The Navigator

A navigator from the city of Kerch, Andrei Gapohenko, came with his wife, daughter and a sister, on a pilgrimage to Kiev in 1851. The pilgrims spent several days in Kiev and having seen the places of interest, they set out to Kitayev to see Starets Feofil.The Blessed One came out to them from his cell and turned directly to Gapchenko's wife, Evdokiya Trifonova, asking her:

"You live near the sea?"

"Yes, near the sea. Batiushka."

"And is your estuary deep?"

"I don't know, Batiushka, I didn't measure it," Evdokiya Trifonova answered in amazement, glancing frightenedly at her relatives.

"On Wednesday and Friday buy incense and candles and give them to the Church for the salvation of your soul, for you have taken to business and sell only fish."

With these words he blessed everyone and left.

The pilgrims left and stopped for a while at Pochaev to pray, then once again came to Kiev and having left their daughter in the Florovsky Monastery in the care of the nun Angelina, they set out for Kerch alone.

Some time passed. On 28 June, on the eve of the feast day of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, Andrei Gapohenko had to leave home on a very urgent business matter. But he fell very ill and had to send his wife in his place while he remained at horne in Mitrodat. Evdokiya Trifonovna set out on the trip with her one year old daughter, Paraskeva. It was necessary to cross over the estuary by boat, but the ferries were full, so the young woman had to embark on a launch loaded with lime. Soon the launch opened its sails and sailed out into the open sea. That night there was a sudden desperate cry:

"Save yourselves we're sinking!!"

It happened that a large leak had opened up on the bottom of the launch and the vessel began to sink to the bottom. In terror, many threw themselves into the sea, others jumped into life boats, still others left themselves to the mercy of fate. Evdokiya Trifonova did not lose her presence of mind and with fervent prayers she turned to God for help. Half an hour passed. The vessel was sinking deeper and deeper. And now the deck was covered with water and Evdokiya stood in water up to her knees — implacable death came closer and closer.

"Bless, O Lord!"

With these words, Evdokiya crossed herself, tied her child to her back and courageously began to swim. With desperation the young woman struggled with the water, with ten-fold strength her arms cut through the swift waves of the deep sea and all around was darkness, continuous water. Nowhere was help to be seen. Her hands began to numb and Evdokiya strained herself to the utmost. Having turned on her back, she moved her child over to her bosom and, holding it with her teeth, she swam farther and farther, not knowing where. And the shore was far off; very far.

She seemed to see her family waiting for her return with terror.

"Farewell, my dear ones! Farewell!"

Her strength weakened and her arms could no longer move. She felt that she was slipping somewhere into coldness, into the depths and a terrifying darkness was covering her eyes.

Andrei, overcome with grief, searched for a long time for his drowned wife and God pitied him. On the third day the waves washed her corpse ashore near Taman with the imprint of terror on her face. The ill-fated companion of his life lay silently on the shore holding in her numb arms her little dead daughter pressed firmly against her maternal breast.

Having buried his deceased wife near that place where she was washed ashore, Andrei Gapchenko set out for the Kievo-Pecherskaya Lavra and there he was tonsured a monk with the name of Malachy. He died at the age of eighty-two.

The People

When leaving home, Blessed Feofil never locked his cell, not even when his cell-mate was also away, for, even in his absence, there was always a group of people, mostly women, near his cell. There was no getting rid of them. They would come to him even before going to church. They would run after him in a crowd, having waited for him for a long time at his window.

The Starets often received people clad only in his coarsely spun under robe, regardless of their rank. When he opened his door, the women vied with each other in trying to bring him some gift. One would shove a pitcher of milk, another cheese or eggs, a bottle of kvas, and so on. And dear God! What a desperate business would take place. Each one tried to give her goods into his hands. Each one wanted some attention turned to her.

In thankfulness for what was brought to him, Starets Feofil provided them with a variety of chores to do. Some brought water, others wood, or he would send some to dig in the garden or white-wash a stone. Among them were also pompous ladies. The Blessed One did not stand upon ceremony with such. He made them carry out the slops and garbage, mix dough or peel potatoes.

The married noblewoman

A married noblewoman once came to Feofil. There was a great crowd in front of the Starets' cell, so she pushed and shoved her way through. She began to call out:

"Batiushka. your blessing! Batiushka, your blessing!"

"And you came to me for a blessing?"

"To you, Batiushka, to you. I wish to speak with you."

"Very well, right now."

The Starets went into his cell and brought out a large bowl of cabbage soup.

"Hold up your hem. God will bless."

And he poured the cabbage soup into the upraised skirt. The woman was horrified. She had on a new silk dress. But the Blessed One did not give her a chance to speak and interrupted her angry thoughts.

"You are unfaithful to your husband daily. And who came to ask me for a blessing in a silk dress? I'll give you what-for, seducing young people with beauty. I'll give you what-for!"

The important landowner

Another time an important landowner came to the Blessed One. Surrounded by a whole suite of manor serfs, she stopped in her carriage in front of the residence of the Blessed One and, with a smile, began to look about in all directions through a lorgnette.

"Tell me please. Where does Feofil live here?" she haughtily asked the cell-mate who came out to her.

"There he is digging in the garden."

The curious lady glanced back and, seeing the Blessed One digging beds while wearing nothing but his under robe, she spat aside with contempt.

"Fie! What ignorance! Walking about the monastery in nothing but a long shirt!"

"In nothing but a long shirt," the Starets said, mimicking her as he came up closer. "Eh, you white-handed princess! And why have you stripped your serfs to their last shirt? And why did you let them out into the world without a piece of bread? To ruin people there is no conscience, and yet, before a humble monk shame appeared? Repent, excessive pride! Love your nearest ones or else it will be bitter for you when your sinful soul will stand in the nakedness of shameless matters before the face of God's judgment."

This outpouring so stunned the woman that she immediately leapt out of the carriage with tears of repentance and spent a whole hour in the Starets' cell, begging him for forgiveness and prayers.

The very punctilious noblewoman

And there were others. There appeared, one day, a very punctilious noblewoman. The Starets was not in the cloister at the time the admirer arrived to receive a blessing. As usual, he was out roaming in the woods. But some people who were at the top of the Kitayevskaya belfry saw the Starets returning home. He was walking with his head lowered and had dirty rags and towels hanging from him. God only knows where he got them! One of these towels was soiled beyond belief with excrement. Walking up to the noblewoman, Feofil stopped and said in a plain Little-Russian dialect:

"Oh, this is a great lady! My hands must be wiped."

And he wiped them with the soiled towel.

"Here, kiss it!" he said stretching out his hand to her.

She, you can understand, stepped back in horror.

"And such are your virtues before the Lord God," the Blessed One said sternly. "They stink, my lady, they stink!"

The devout Countess

Even the eminent philanthropist and devout Countess Anna Alexeevna Orlova-Chesmenskaya was not spared by the Starets. The Countess once came to the Blessed One on the advice of Metropolitan Filaret. When she asked for his blessing for the beginning of some important matter, the Starets did not answer a word, but gathered up a pile of fine sweepings and poured it into the skirt of her dress. Orlova was so devout and honoured the Starets so much that she left, humbly carrying the sweepings, and all the way home she contemplated about the significance of this action of the Blessed One.

Another time she came to him on the eve of the Feast of the Dormition. The Starets was in the habit of cleaning up his cell on this day. He was washing pots and dishes when Countess Orlova arrived. Seeing her, he exclaimed joyously:

"Ah, a maiden, a maiden has come! Opportunely, very opportunely. Pray, dear one, go down to the Dniepr and wash a couple of little pots for me."

He handed her an armload of dirty dishes.

Anna Alexeevna only smiled and, without any embarrassment, went down to the Dniepr where she diligently took to washing the pots, dirtied with age, with her own hands which were decorated with precious rings. Her servant stood at a respectful distance and marvelled, seeing the Countess at such menial work.

The parables

The Starets did not speak openly with everyone. With many he explained himself through parables filled with significance. Moreover, he had the custom of giving the visitor some thing, not significant in itself, but prophetically hinting at the fate awaiting him. A crock, a sliver of wood, a rotten apple, a pear, a piece of pie, a cucumber, a rag, a prosphora, a candle nub, even a handful of manure which was often found in his basket. For the Starets all this had a symbolic significance relating to a specific person.

Once he sent his cell-mate to Hieromonk Modest, the regulator of the Lavra, with some dirty foot-cloths.

"Give them to him and let him wash them," the Blessed One said to his cell-mate.

After a while the foot-cloths returned clean.

"Aha! Not so!" the Starets exclaimed. "Take them again, Let him wash them whiter."

And he sent them off to Modest for a second time. What did these dirty foot-cloths signify? They signified unclean thoughts which were confusing the regulator at that time and they were sent to him to be washed until the monk's mind was cleaned and received a flow of cleaner thoughts.

The Hierodeacon

Hierodeacon Agapit, who subsequently became igumen, was appointed recorder of the Great Lavra Church. This obedience, being very troublesome and active, was not in keeping with the personality of the hierodeacon. He had to have constant conversations with the many pilgrims who visited the Lavra. He was expected to entertain guests and satisfy the curiosity of all visitors. All this reduced his contemplation and studying time to a minimum. Despondency once fell upon the devout Agapit, and when this happened, a messenger from Father Feofil suddenly appeared with a prosphora with the instruction to eat it, at which his despondency disappeared.

The poor widow

Once the poor widow of a psalm-reader came to the Starets. She wept before him, complaining about fate. Her relatives refused to help her even though her family was large and almost dying from hunger.

The Starets looked at her attentively and with his own hand he wiped the tears rolling down the face of the widow. He then went into his cell and brought out a large bowl of cabbage soup.

"Here you are. Pray, take comfort. But once you have received, see that you don't give away to anyone. They didn't help you, now don't you give to them."

"But I haven't anything to give away, Batiushka."

"Well, well, see that you don't give. Hide everything for yourself."

The widow returned home with the cabbage soup. As soon as she arrived in the village, she received the news that a childless cousin had died and left her a large estate. Her greedy relatives who had ignored her poverty now took note of her wealth, but she gave them nothing.

The peasant

Another time a peasant came to the Blessed One with his daughter. "Why did you come?"

"Batiushka, bless my daughter to go away to a monastery. She is so good, kind, and obedient. Her mother and I long ago promised to dedicate her to God. Bless her."

"Good, yes, I'll bless her right now," said the Starets and disappeared into his cell.

The peasant waited to find out what would happen next. The Starets brought out a tallow candle and removed the wick from it.

"Here you are."

"What is this for, Batiushka?"

"It is your daughter's blessing. Now begone!"

Half a year later the "good, kind, and obedient" daughter gave birth to a child. There was no more talk of virginity or a monastery, only of a wedding.

The two peasants of Saratov province

Two peasants of Saratov province, Iona Kirillov and Demian N. set out for Holy Mount Athos. On the way there, they stopped in Kiev to pay their respects at the revered places and to visit Starets Feofil for his blessings on their journey.

"You cannot go to Athos. Stay here," the Starets replied to them. "They won't permit you to go."

The young men did not listen to him and went to Odessa. The Russian ministry would not grant them exit visas however, because of the mounting tensions with Turkey.

The friends returned to Kiev and were accepted at the Lavra as postulants. In a week's time they visited the Blessed One. Starets Feofil brought forth a three-kopeck bun and, dividing it in half, gave each one an equal sized piece.

Soon the friends were separated. Demian was sent to the Sarov cloister while Iona remained to live in the Kievo-Pecherskaya Lavra.

The widow of a wealthy landowner of Kherson

Maria Matfeevna Genzo, the widow of a wealthy landowner of Kherson, had been involved in a court action concerning land with her brothers-in-law for several years. Due to her lack of astuteness, she had lost the case and now faced complete ruin. In desperation she had appealed to the Senate for a reversal of the court's decision. Having heard of the Starets from devout friends, Genzo travelled to Kiev to seek the advice of the Blessed Visionary.

The Starets was living at the Kitayevskaya Hermitage at that time and, meeting the visitor, he brought her an enormous hot loaf of white bread. This loaf was divided into two parts. In the lower half was a depression in the soft part. Into this depression the Starets had poured so much oil that it ran over and dripped onto the floor.

"Here, here, take it. Don't be bashful. This is for you from me because of your great patience."

Genzo was confused but she took the loaf. She returned home pondering over the strange gift. Soon the matter was solved, for she received word that the Senate had ruled in her favour. Not only was she to have her land back but her oppressors were required to make full restitution for all her losses and costs.

The happy Genzo sent fifty rubles to the Starets in gratitude. He promptly distributed the money to the needy poor.

The Igumen

An igumen of one of the monasteries in the Eparchy of Kiev relates this incident.

"In 1852, I completed the course of the Kursk Ecclesiastical Seminary and felt the desire to be tonsured a monk, so I went to the Kievo-Pecherskaya Lavra on a pilgrimage. I had heard that Starets Feofil did not bless everyone equally and before going to his cell, I sent a comrade to get his blessing while I hid behind a tree to observe how the Starets would accept him. Feofil received my comrade in a friendly manner, blessed him and said some kind words to him. Approving of such a reception, I promptly came out from behind the tree and knelt, folding my hands to receive a blessing.

Blessed Hieroschemamonk Feofil

'Go away!' the Starets said to me. 'I'm not an archbishop blessing you. Go to an archbishop — he will bless you.'

I was overwhelmed. Tears choked me and I could hardly stand on my feet. My comrade noticed my condition, took me by the arm and led me from the hemitage. I don't even know how I walked to the Lavra. I only remember that my comrade was comforting me, explaining Feofil's poor reception as a happy event. I seemed to realize that this had not been an offence but some sort of test which had to be endured without a murmur and therefore I strongly relied on the intercession of the Heavenly Queen. On our return to the Lavra, we went to the Great Church, prayed there and reverenced the holy relics. Then we went out. At one entrance we saw a carriage standing with several pilgrims clustered around it. 'For whom are they waiting?' 'For Vladika. He's coming out right now.' Truly, in about five minutes the Metropolitan came out and I hurried to walk up to him for a blessing. Having explained the aim of my arrival, I expressed my desire to remain in the monastery forever. Great was my astonishment and joy when I received, at that very moment, a blessing from the Starets Vladika and he consented to my entering the Lavra brotherhood. Soon I was tonsured a monk and only then did the words of Starets Feofil become clear to me."

The Peasant and the Soup

A peasant came to Kiev to worship and appealed to the Blessed One for advice, asking for his blessing to enter a monastery. Starets Feofil listened to him and then asked:

"Do you want to eat?"

The peasant nodded his head affirmatively.

"Here you are, eat."

And he gave the youth some soup. At the bottom of the bowl was something very hard which he could not chew. The Starets was very curious to know if the young man could manage with the object at the bottom of the soup, and he watched him through the door of his cell. But certain that the podvig was beyond the young man's power, he went out to him and said:

"Well now, that is enough. Enough. Go to Holy Mikhailovsky Monastery and live there."

The youth entered the monastery and was notable for his meekness, simpleness and mental capabilities and was even appointed assistant to the cellarer. But soon a great misfortune occurred. The cellarer, Hieromonk Mikhail (of the Orlov priests) was strongly indignant with his humble assistant and sought to drive him out of the monastery. With tears in his eyes, the postulant gathered his belongings and left them in someone's care, then hurried to Starets Feofil for advice. While walking up to the Starets' door, he began to pray:

"With the prayers of our holy fathers, O Lord, Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us."

But the Starets did not allow him to finish. Opening his door, he sternly berated the unhappy postulant.

"You, Pavel, why have you come? Go home right now! Ah, you, Pavel! You Mikailovsky monk! Go home!"

The youth was totally bewildered, but set his feet towards the Mikhailovsky Monastery, thinking as he went:

"Well to be sure! They say that he is a visionary and he called me Pavel. What kind of Pavel am I when I'm not Pavel at all?"

It happened that the Vicarial Bishop in Kiev, Apollinary, was a very simple and just person who took a special interest in each monk and every postulant in his see. Vladika had heard of the injustice which had befallen the young postulant and he called Hieromonk Mikhail to himself and severely commanded him to search for the mistreated one and restore him. Messengers were sent out in all directions but before they had time to find him, the postulant returned from Feofil. Vladika was notified and the innocent youth was soon tonsured and, to his amazement, given the name prophesied by Feofil — Pavel.

The wife of a broker

Maria Dudareva, the wife of a broker, had wanted to go to Kiev for a long time. Because of the cholera epidemic of 1853, she postponed the trip. She had a fanatic concern for her health. Finally, she ventured to set out. While at the Kitayevskaya Hermitage, she decided to see Starets Feofil. As she approached his door, Feofil came out to meet her, carrying a small box with a lid.

"Hello, hello, oh wife of a broker! Here, I have prepared a little box for you. Do you like it?"

"Oh yes, Batiushka, very much."

"And if we close the lid thus — will that be all right then?"

"Why, yes, of course, Batiushka."

"Well then, here take it. But beware. Go home quickly. Do you hear? Do not stop anywhere in the city or it will be very bad."

"But I came on a pilgrimage to Kiev, Batiushka. I would like to stay for a couple of days."

"Don't even dare to think about that. Go as quickly as you can."

Maria left for home immediately and arrived in fear. But she barely had time to greet her family when she was seized by writhing and retching and had to lie down on a bed. Her face turned blue and she suffered from her cholera for only three hours; then, she yielded up her soul to God.

The two wanderers

Here is a no less interesting case. In the city of Tula there lived two wanderers, Katrina S. and her brother Ivan. They were without family or relations. Each spring they would set out for the holy places, he to the north and she to the south. With the coming of the cold, they would return home for the winter.

Thus one year Katrina came to Kiev and, as usual, stopped to see Starets Feofil. The Blessed One gave her his blessing and handed her a little clay pot tied up with paper as a souvenir.

"Here, take it. But make sure that you don't untie it before you get home."

Katrina left but on the way her curiosity began to work on her. "What could be in the pot? Probably the Starets foresaw something nice for me and put butter into the pot." Finally, she could no longer contain herself and she decided to open it in spite of the Starets' admonition not to. She untied the paper and peered into the little pot. Much to her shock, there lay a dead sparrow.

"Oh, what kind of a joker are you? Why just see what that old man has thought up. A dead sparrow," she thought.

In anger she spat and then smashed the pot against a tree.

About a month later Katrina returned home from the pilgrimage.

"What, my dear brother hasn't been home yet?"

"No, not yet," the neighbors replied, "but there is a packet here with your name on it."

It turned out to be nothing less than news that her brother had been robbed and killed on the road. Katrina then understood the significance of the dead sparrow and she broke down into bitter tears.

The wealthy cattle dealer

In Kiev there once lived a very wealthy and landed cattle dealer, A. D---ov. His wife was meek and God-fearing but D---ov himself was a coarse, cruel, and little-believing man. The wife was a regular visitor to God's temple and monasteries, liked to give alms, to receive the poor and wanderers and was very dedicated to ascetics. She was absolutely devoted to Starets Feofil and often invited him to their home. D---ov, on the other hand, was hard-hearted and dissipated and could not bear the presence of Starets Feofil in his home. He would constantly mock his wife for inviting him.

"Aren't you ashamed to spend so much time with this bigoted fool!" he asked her.

One fine morning when D---ov was not at home, Starets Feofil arrived equipped with pieces of coal. He began to draw ciphers on the wallpaper, some in tens, others in hundreds of thousands. D---ova did not dare to stop him and stood off to the side, staring in amazement at the Blessed One's activities. Her husband soon returned. He noticed Feofil's bullock standing in the yard and decided to make fun of the Starets, but when he entered the room and looked at the wall, he was horrified. The expensive wallpaper was black with ciphers written in coal.

"Who dared to do such a thing? Feofil, of course!"

And he went through the rooms to search for Feofil. Seeing him in his bedroom, he threw himself on the Starets with reproaches and swearing. But Feofil, pretending to be a fool, began silently to remove his clothing. D---ov spat, and stormed out of the house. The distraught wife, regaining her composure, began to apologize to Feofil and offered him some soaked cabbage, of which he was very fond. Instead of accepting, he gave her a stern and ambiguous answer:

"No — all is finished! God is just. I was offended, ruined, and left as a beggar. The Lord hath given and the Lord taketh away."

And he immediately set out for home.

Shortly after this, the D---ov family was beset by terrible grief. Their business began to diminish, their capital began to melt away, huge debts appeared. Soon their property was auctioned off and the haughty, rich D---ov became a beggar, dragging out his existence in some wretched hovel allotted to him by the Kiev city administration out of pity and compassion.

From: Hieroschemamonk Feofil, Fool-for-Christ's-Sake, Ascetic and Visionary of the Kiev-Caves Lavra. Compiled by Vladimir Znosko.