26 July 2018

Venerable Moses Ugrin of the Kiev Pechersk Lavra

Venerable Moses of Kiev

Saint Moses of Kiev, whom we commemorate today, is one of three brothers, who all hailed from the Carpathian Mountains, who all served in the retinue of Saint Boris the Martyr-Prince of Rostov, and who all met salvific ends in Christ – but who did so along very divergent paths.

Saint Yuri of Al’ta, the youngest brother, was slain and beheaded alongside Saint Boris when the latter yielded himself without struggle into the murderous hands of his brother Svyatopolk. Venerable Efrem of Novotorzhsk was not with Saint Boris at the time, but later found Saint Yuri’s remains and buried his body before retiring from the world, leaving instructions to his fellow-monks to bury his brother’s head alongside him. The third brother, Saint Moses, had a rather more eventful life. Moses escaped the clutches of Svyatopolk and fled to Kiev where he sought refuge with the sister of Yaroslav the Wise. However, when the city was captured by the Polish King Bolesław, he was taken prisoner-of-war and made a slave.

A Polish noblewoman, seeing Moses’ tall and handsome shape and conceiving a deep lust for him, bought him, unwilling, from Bolesław and sought to make him her bed-thrall. She tempted him with her body; however, Moses refused her advances. She plied him with all sorts of delicious food, but he would not eat it. She then took him in an open carriage and showed him all of the wealthy lands of which she was mistress; however, Moses was bent upon becoming a monk, and told her that the perishable wealth of the world could not tempt him.

A mendicant monk who happened to be passing through tonsured Moses. When his Polish owner found out about it, she became furious and ordered Moses to be flung onto the ground and beaten with heavy iron rods until the ground was soaking with his blood. Then, she sought Bolesław’s permission to do with him as she pleased, and he gave her this right. She then forced him into bed with her and tried, unsuccessfully, to rape him. Frustrated and humiliated, the Polish noblewoman ordered him to be beaten every day 100 times with the lash until he bled to death.

On account of this defiance, Bolesław planned to undertake a great persecution of monks in the Polish lands, but his death prevented this order from being carried out. The Polish noblewoman was killed in a peasant uprising shortly thereafter. As for Moses himself, he escaped once again – but he had been so badly wounded and crippled from the tortures he had undergone that he had to lean on a staff whenever he walked. He made his way to the Kiev Pechersk Lavra where he took the cowl.

Saint Moses lived for ten years at the Lavra under the tutelage of Holy Father Antoniy, and was a firm support to his fellow monks there. One brother approached him, confessing that he had lustful thoughts. Moses sought the brother’s obedience, and forbade him to speak to any woman as long as he lived. Then he struck the brother on the chest with his staff, and at once the brother was relieved of his temptations. The Venerable Moses reposed in the Lord in 1043.

Venerable Moses of Kiev, for the deliverance of all slaves from their captivity, for the deliverance of us all from the passions and for the salvation of our souls, pray to Christ our God for us sinners!

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