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Saint Ignaty (Dmitry Bryanchaninov)

Saint Ignaty (Dmitry Bryanchaninov)

theologian, publicist, member of Higher Orders of Clergy

Theologian, publicist, member of Higher Orders of Clergy (1807-1867)


On May 13th (April 30th, old style) the Church commemorates the great spiritual writer and hierarch, Saint Ignaty (in the world Dmitry Aleksandrovich Bryanchaninov).

Saint Ignaty was born on February 5, 1807 to an ancient nobleman family in the village of Pokrovskoye, the Vologda gubernia. His father was a landowner, very rough by nature. The children in the family were often punished, even whipped. Bryanchaninov's mother who also came from a noble family did not participate in the chidren's upbringing. The boy spent his childhood in the solitude of village life, and from his earliest years he was drawn to monasticism. As he grew older, his religious feelings became more and more prominent.

His father hoped to see Dmitry in a government job, and when the boy turned fifteen he took him to St. Petersburg and enrolled him in the Chief Engineering Institute. Dmitry was a brilliant student. In 1826 he graduated first in the list from the Institute. But he wanted to leave the service immediately to devote himself wholeheartedly to monastic life. Bryanchaninov sent in his papers against his parents' wishes. His claim was allowed a year later.

Having retired, Dmitry proceeded to the Alexander Svir monastery in the Olonets province to become a novice of it. The final change in his life occurred after his meeting with elder Leonid (who later became the great Optina elder Leo). Then Dmitry Bryanchaninov left the glitter and wealth of aristocratic life and, causing deep perplexity among high society, retired from the world. He lived a very hard life there. A noble by birth, Dmitry had to go through all the hardships and suffered humiliation.

After spending some time as a novice in several monasteries, he soon became a monastic under the name of Ignaty on June 28, 1831 in the Vologda Resurrection Cathedral. Afterwards Ignaty was appointed to various neglected monasteries and hermitages, which he invariably restored to their former thriving condition.

In 1833 Ignaty was installed as a prior of the Troitse-Sergieva hermitage in St.Petersburg province. The Troitse-Sergieva hermitage founded in 1732 was falling into decay at that time. State subsidies needed for repairs were scarce. Saint Ignaty ran the monastery for 24 years and turned it into a flourishing and model one.

In 1857 St. Ignaty was ordained Bishop of Caucasus and the Black Sea, but due to a severe illness (smallpox), he was able to remain in his diocese for only four years. The last years of his life Ignaty spent in the Nikolo-Babaevsky Monastery in Kostromskaya Eparchy. There he occupied himself with the writing of spiritual books, among which the best-known were his "Ascetic experiences" which is popular with the Orthodox believers at present. The fact that in 1988 Ignaty Bryanchaninov was canonized on the occasion of 1000th anniversary of christianity of Rus testifies to the contribution he made and literary merit of his works.

Saint Ignaty passed away in 1867.

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