The Holy Martyr Silouan of the Lavra of Saint Sergius

The Holy Martyr Silouan of the Lavra of Saint Sergius


The Holy Martyr Silouan, the disciple and biographer of Saint Maximos the Confessor, known as ‘the Greek’, of the Holy Monastery of Vatopaidi, was a saintly monk of the Lavra of Saint Sergius. He was imbued with the same spirit as his Elder and teacher and proved to be his rival in spiritual knowledge.

He himself considered his spiritual contact with Saint Maximos to be a godsend. In admiration of the Elder’s abilities, Saint Silouan rightly called him a treasury of wisdom, for his knowledge of three languages (Greek, Latin and Russian) and as the author of heroic, elegiac poems and because he stood out amongst his contemporaries for his intelligence and perspicacity. This tribute is mentioned in the introduction of the translation of Saint John Chrysostom’s interpretation of the Gospel according to Saint Matthew, a book he wrote with the assistance of Saint Maximos in 1524. He mentions this help in a very self-effacing fashion, and attributes the translation to his Elder, even though he expended a great deal of effort over it. His disclaimer doesn’t bear scrutiny, however, since Saint Maximos the Greek didn’t, at that time, have sufficient command of Church Slavonic.

Saint Silouan fell asleep in the Lord before Saint Maximos the Confessor, and through a martyr’s death. They locked him in a chamber with poison fumes which came from the incomplete combustion of logs and he died of asphyxia. Prince Kurbskij, a contemporary of Saint Maximos, reports that Metropolitan Daniil, shortly before he was deposed, was directly responsible for the death of Saint Silouan in the metropolis in 1539. On his death Silouan received two crowns: those of saint and martyr.

Through his holy intercession, Christ our God, have mercy upon us and save us. Amen.



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Pemptousia and OCN have entered a strategic partnership to bring Orthodoxy Worldwide. Greek philosophers from Ionia considered held that there were four elements or essences (ousies) in nature: earth, water, fire and air. Aristotle added ether to this foursome, which would make it the fifth (pempto) essence, pemptousia, or quintessence. The incarnation of God the Word found fertile ground in man’s proclivity to beauty, to goodness, to truth and to the eternal. Orthodoxy has not functioned as some religion or sect. It was not the movement of the human spirit towards God but the revelation of the true God, Jesus Christ, to man. A basic precept of Orthodoxy is that of the person ­– the personhood of God and of man. Orthodoxy is not a religious philosophy or way of thinking but revelation and life standing on the foundations of divine experience; it is the transcendence of the created and the intimacy of the Uncreated. Orthodox theology is drawn to genuine beauty; it is the theology of the One “fairer than the sons of men”. So in "Pemptousia", we just want to declare this "fifth essence", the divine beaut in our life. Please note, not all Pemptousia articles have bylines. If the author is known, he or she is listed in the article above.