Our venerable father Anthony of the Kiev Caves was one of the founders of the Monastery of the Kiev Caves. His feast day is on September 2 with St. Theodosius, and on July 10, when an appearance of the Mother of God foretold of his impending death.
Anthony was born in 983 in Liubech, near Chernigov. He was named Antipas by his parents. In his youth he possessed a fear of God and dressed in monastic attire. As he matured he set off on a journey to Mount Athos, where he took to the monastic life. He received a monastic tonsure with the name Anthony, and set his life on a course of pleasing God and living an ascetic life on the path to virtue. He became known for his humility and obedience.
In time, the igumen recognized in him a great future ascetic. Inspired by God, the igumen directed that Anthony should return to his homeland where many monks would come to him. Returning to the Russian lands, Anthony visited many monasteries near Kiev, but was not able to find the strict life that drew him to Mount Athos. In time, he came upon a cave that had been dug by the priest Hilarion (later to be Metropolitan of Kiev), near the village of Berestovo. Here he began his struggle in prayer, vigil, work, and fasting, eating only a morsel a day and sometimes not eating for week.
In his ascetic life, people began to come to him for his blessing and counsel. Some who came decided to stay with him. Anthony's renown spread throughout the land, inspiring many to the monastic life. After twelve men had gathered with Anthony, the brethren dug a bigger cave, and within it made a church and cells for the monks. As the community became larger, Anthony appointed Barlaam as abbot of the monastery and then withdrew to another place to dig a new cave where he secluded himself. Nevertheless, monks began to settle around his new cave of seclusion. Thus were formed the Near and Far Caves monasteries. Later, a small wooden church, dedicated to the Dormition of the Theotokos, was built over the Far Caves.
After the great Prince Izyaslav of Kiev convinced the igumen Barlaam to move to the Dimitriev monastery, the brethren, with Anthony's blessing, chose the meek and humble Theodosius, as igumen. The community of the Near and Far Caves continued to grow, reaching a population of hundred. Then, Prince Izyaslav gave the community of monks the hill where a large church and cells were built, around which a palisade was built. Thus, the renowned Monastery of the Kiev Caves came into being, the first spiritual center in the land of the Rus', raised up through the efforts of St. Anthony, without gold but on the prayers of saints and by their tears, vigil, and fasting.
Many miraculous happening have been recorded associated with St. Anthony, including the appearance of the Mother of God before Ss. Anthony and Theodosius in the Blachernae church in Constantinople, without their leaving their own monastery, at which the Mother of God foretold the death of Anthony. He died on May 7, 1073, and his relics, through divine providence, remain concealed.
- Having departed from worldly tumults,
- In leaving the world you followed Christ according to the Gospel.
- You reached the quiet refuge of the Holy Mount Athos,
- Living there a life equal to the angels.
- Therefore, with the blessing of the Fathers,
- You came to the Kievan hills.
- There having fulfilled a life loving of labors,
- You illumined your homeland.
- And having shown a multitude of monastics
- The pathway leading to the heavenly kingdom,
- You led them to Christ.
- Beseech him, O Venerable Anthony,
- That he may save our souls!
Kontakion (Tone 8)
- From your youth you gave yourself to God whom you loved above all, O Venerable One;
- And in love you followed after him with your whole soul.
- Scorning the passing corruption of the world, you made a cave in the earth;
- And in it you struggled nobly facing the snares of the invisible enemy,
- While illumining the ends of the earth like a bright, shining sun.
- Therefore, with rejoicing you entered into the heavenly chambers.
- Standing now before the throne of the Master together with the angels,
- Remember us who honor your holy memory,
- That we may cry out to you: Rejoice, Anthony our Holy Father!
Anthony of Kiev (c. 983-1073) was a monk and the founder of the monastic tradition in the Kievan Rus'. Also called Anthony of the Caves (Russian: Антоний Печерский, Ukrainian: Антоній Печерський) he, together with Theodosius of Kiev, co-founded Kiev Pechersk Lavra (Kiev Monastery of the Caves).
He was born in Lyubech in Chernigov Principality and was baptized with the name "Antipas". He was drawn to the spiritual life from an early age and, when he was of age, left for the Greek Orthodox Esphigmenou Monastery on Mount Athos to live as a hermit. He lived in a secluded cave there overlooking the sea, which is still shown to visitors. In circa 1011, the abbot gave Anthony the job of expanding monasticism in his native Kiev, which had only recently begun its conversion to Christianity.
Anthony returned to Kiev, and founded several monasteries on the Greek model on the order of local princes. These monasteries were not as austere as Anthony was used to from his time on Mount Athos. He instead chose to live in a small four-yard cave which had been dug by the presbyter Hilarion.
In 1015, his peaceful austerity was interrupted by the death of Vladimir I of Kiev, and the subsequent fratricidal war for the throne between Vladimir's sons Yaroslav and Sviatopolk, and Anthony returned to Mount Athos. When the conflict ended, the abbot sent Anthony back to Kiev, prophesying that many monks would join him on his return.
On his return, Anthony found a small 4-yard cave which Hilarion had dug before his elevation as the first native Metropolitan of Kiev. Anthony became well known in the area for his strict asceticism. He ate rye bread every other day and drank only a little water. His fame soon spread beyond Kiev, and several people began to ask for his spiritual guidance or blessing. Soon, some people even offered to join him. Eventually, Anthony accepted the company of a few of them. The first was a priest named Nikon. The second was Theodosius of Kiev.
The new monastery enjoyed royal favor almost from the beginning, although there were occasional problems. When Iziaslav I of Kiev demanded that the son of a wealthy boyar and one of his own retainers be told to leave the monastery, Nikon said he could not take soldiers away from the King of Heaven. This did nothing to placate Iziaslav's anger, and Anthony decided that it might be expedient for him to leave. Anthony returned after Iziaslav's wife requested his return.
Shortly thereafter Anthony had gained twelve disciples. Anthony, devoted to the model of the solitary hermit set by his namesake Anthony the Great, left his cave for a nearby mountain so he could continue to live the solitary life. There he dug another cave for himself and lived in seclusion there. This cave became the first of what would later be known as the Far Caves.
In time, the first official abbot of the monastery, Barlaam of Kiev, was called by Iziaslav to head a new monastery, St. Demetrios, which had been built at the gates of the city. The monks requested Anthony to name the replacement, and he named Theodosius.
As the number of monks grew and crowding became a problem, Anthony requested that Iziaslav give them the hill in which the caves were located. He did so, and the monks built a wooden church and some cells there, encircling the area with a wooden fence. Theodosius continued to consult Anthony in the guidance of the community and, as the monastery grew, so did Anthony's reputation.
When Iziaslav and his brothers were facing a popular uprising involving the Cumans, they came to Anthony for his blessing. They did not get it. Anthony foretold that because of their sins they would be defeated, and that the brothers would be buried in a church they would build. Shortly thereafter Iziaslav left because of the rebellion. He suspected Anthony of sympathizing with the opposition and arranged to banish Anthony upon his return. Before he could do so, Iziaslav's brother, Sviatoslav, arranged for Anthony to be secretly taken to Chernigov. Anthony dug himself a cave there. The Eletsky Monastery there is said by some to be built on the site of Anthony's cave. Eventually Iziaslav was again reconciled to Anthony and asked that he return to Kiev.
On his return, Anthony and Theodosius decided to build a larger stone church to accommodate the ever increasing number of monks. Anthony himself did not live to see the church completed. He died in 1073, shortly after blessing the foundation of the new church, at 90 years old. Shortly before his death he called the monks together and consoled them about his coming death. He also asked them that his remains be hidden away forever. The monks carried out his request. He was reportedly buried in his cave, but no relics have ever been found. Many however have subsequently come to the cave to pray and many of them have reported being healed there.
St. Anthony is venerated as a saint and the founder of monasticism in Rus. His feast day falls on July 10. Since the Russian Orthodox Church follows the Julian Calendar, the day on which his feast is celebrated is currently July 23 on the modern Gregorian Calendar. Saint Anthony is also venerated by Greek Catholics and is listed in the Martyrologium Romanum of the Roman Catholic Church with a feast day of May 7.
His relics have never been found.
The Near Caves or the Caves of Saint Anthony(Ukrainian: Ближні печери, Blyzhni pechery; Russian: Ближние пещеры, Blizhnie peschery) are historic caves and a network of tunnels of the medieval cave monastery of Kiev Pechersk Lavra in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. The Near Caves have a total length of 383 metres and are 5 to 20 metres deep (see map).
The Near Caves were founded when in 1057, Saint Varlaam was appointed as the first hegumen (abbot) of the Kiev Pechersk Lavra by Saint Anthony. Monk Anthony withdrew himself from the monastery and later settled on a new hill, where he dug out a new underground cell, now called the Near Caves.
The Near Caves contain the underground Church of Saint Anthony, the Church of the Entry of the Mother of God into the Temple, and the Saint Varlaam Church. The caves also have a total of 79 surviving burials, among them being Nestor the Chronicler, the icon artists Alipy and Grigory, the doctor Agapit, the prince-ascetic Nikolai Sviatosha, the holy martyr Kuksha, as well as the remains of the epic hero Ilya Muromets. During the examination of the remains, it was established that Ilya Muromets had died from a stab wound. According to a legend, a force of angels transported him from the place where he had died to the Lavra caverns.
The Near Cave's main temple is the Church of the Elevation of the Cross (Khrestovozdvizhenska), which was constructed in the Ukrainian Baroque style from 1700-1704. The church's carved icons of 1769 have fortunately survived to this day. From the 19th century, the church served as a burial vault for the Kiev Metropolitens. The old refectory of the church is connected to the brother's cells, a Neoclassical style building with a four-column portico dating from the 1830s.
At the foot of the hill stands the Near Cave's belltower, which was designed and constructed by architect Stepan Kovnir in 1760. Also, the headstones of a number of well-known Kievans can be seen in front of the Khrestovozdvizhenska Church, namely, the headstone of the general-governor Aleksandr Bezak, which was designed by architect Mikhail Ikonnikov in 1860).
Beneath the Near Caverns, two old draw-wells were recently discovered. According to the legend one of them was dug by Saint Anthony and the other by his best-known disciple Theodosius of Kiev. Beside the draw-wells, a chapel was built, now known as the Church of the Life-Giving Spring, built in honour of the Icon of the Mother God.
Părintele nostru Antonie al Peşterilor Kievului a fost unul din fondatorii Mănăstirii Peşterilor Kievului. Prăznuirea lui se face în 2 septembrie împreună cu Sf. Teodosie şi pe 10 iulie, când Maica Domnului i s-a arătat ca să-i vestească apropiata trecere la Domnul.
Antonie s-a născut în 983 în Liubech, lângă Chernigov. A primit numele de Antipa de la părinţii săi. În tinereţe a fost cuprins de frica de Dumnezeu şi a dorinţa de a îmbrăca haina monahală. La maturitate a plecat la Muntele Athos unde a intrat în mănăstire. A fost tuns cu numele de Antonie şi şi-a închinat viaţa mulţumirii lui Dumnezeu şi ascetismului virtuţilor. A devenit cunoscut pentru umilinţa şi pentru smerenia sa.
Cu timpul, egumenul a văzut în el un mare viitor ascet. Inspirat de Dumnezeu, Egumenul l-a sfătuit pe Antonie să se întoarcă în ţinutul natal unde mulţi călugări îl vor căuta apoi. Întorcându-se pe tărâmurile ruseşti, Antonie a vizitat mai multe mănăstiri de lângă Kiev, dar nu a găsit acolo viaţa monastică similară celei din Muntele Athos. Cu timpul, a venit într-o peşteră săpată de preotul Ilarion (mai târziu Mitropolit de Kiev), lângă satul Berestovo. Aici şi-a început nevoinţa în rugăciune, veghe, muncă şi post, mâncând doar o îmbucătură pe zi şi uneori ajunând cu săptămâna.
Datorită vieţii sale aspre, oamenii au început să vină la el pentru binecuvântare şi îndrumare. Unii dintre cei veniţi au decis să rămână cu el. Faima lui Antonie s-a împrăştiat în ţinuturile înconjurătoare, făcându-i pe mulţi să aleagă calea monahală. După ce s-au strâns doisprezece oameni cu Antonie, comunitatea aceasta a săpat o peşteră şi mai mare şi în interiorul ei au amenajat o biserică şi chilii pentru călugări. Când comunitatea s-a mărit, Antonie l-a numit pe Varlaam stareţ al mănăstirii şi apoi s-a retras în alt loc unde şi-a săpat o nouă peşteră în care s-a închis. Cu toate acestea, şi aici au venit călugări care s-au stabilit pe lângă el. Astfel s-au format mănăstirile Peşterile de Aproape şi Peşterile de Departe. Mai târziu, a fost construită o mică biserică de lemn peste Peşterile de Departe închinată Adormirii Maicii Domnului.
După ce marele Prinţ Izislav de Kiev l-a convins pe stareţul Varlaam să se mute la mănăstirea Dimitriev, obştea, cu binecuvântarea lui Antonie, l-a ales pe blândul şi umilul Teodosie ca egumen. Obştea Peşterilor de Aproape şi de Departe a continuat să crească ajungând la sute de călugări. Atunci, Prinţul Izislav a dat obştii de călugări dealul pe care ei au construit o biserică mare şi numeroase chilii, înconjurate de o palisadă. Astfel, Mănăstirea Peşterilor Kievului, reînnoită, a devenit primul centru spiritual al Ţării Rusiei, ridicat prin eforturile Sfântului Antonie, fără aur, dar prin rugăciunile sfinţilor şi prin lacrimile, veghea şi postul lor.
Multe întâmplări miraculoase au fost atribuite Sfântului Antonie, inclusiv vederea Maicii Domnului de către Sfinţii Antonie şi Teodosie în Biserica Vlaherne din Constantinopol, fără ca ei să-şi părăsească propria mănăstire, şi în care Antonie şi-a aflat momentul adormirii. El a murit în 7 mai 1073 iar moaştele sale, prin pronia divină, sunt nestricate.
La pomenirea din 10 iulie:
- Din tulburările lumeşti ieşind şi cu lepădarea lumii evangheliceşte lui Hristos ai urmat şi viaţă asemenea cu a îngerilor vieţuind, în limanul cel lin al sfântului Munte al Atonului ai ajuns. De unde cu binecuvântarea părinţilor în muntele Kievului venind şi acolo cu iubirea de osteneală viaţa săvârşindu-ţi, patria ta o ai luminat şi mulţimii călugărilor calea care duce către cereasca împărăţie arătând-o, pe aceasta lui Hristos o ai dus, pe care roagă-L, Antonie preacuvioase, ca să mântuiască sufletele noastre.
Condac, glasul al 4-lea:
- Te-ai supus pe sine-ţi preaiubitului Dumnezeu din tinereţe, mai vârtos decât toţi, Cuvioase, şi Aceluia din tot sufletul cu dragoste ai urmat şi cele stricăcioase ale lumii întru nimic socotindu-le; în pământ peşteră ţi-ai făcut şi într-însa împotriva meşteşugurilor nevăzutului vrăjmaş bine nevoindu-te, ca nişte raze luminoase ale soarelui în toate marginile pământului ai strălucit, din care veselindu-te ai trecut către cămara cea cerească. Şi acum cu îngerii înaintea scaunului Stăpânului stând, adu-ţi aminte de noi cei ce cinstim pomenirea ta, ca să strigăm ţie: „Bucură-te, Antonie, părintele nostru!”