V32 #6 Elder Nilus


Reprinted from Orthodox Life Vol 32., No. 6 November-December 1982

Blessed Elder Nilus
of the St. Nilus of Sora Hermitage
(1801 - 1870)


by Abbot Herman

The author of the "Prayers to the Most Holy Theotokos for Every Day of the Week" was a great spirit-bearing elder of the Russian Church during the nineteenth century and occupied an important place in the flood of the spiritual renaissance initiated by the holy Elder Paisius Velichkovsky, whose disciples attained, one might say, to the most abundant flowering of sanctity known to Russia.
St.Nilus (13KB)
The Blessed Elder Nilus
Commemorated July 19
The blessed Elder Nilus is known to history as the restorer of the skete of that great elder, the Venerable Nilus of Sora, who was the first to bring to the Russian people the "Rule of Skete Life" from Mount Athos. While the second Nilus did not succeed in attaining the former glory of the skete of the great Nilus, his swampy northern wilderness nevertheless brought forth abundant fruit into the world: the unknown great servants of God who lived prior to the disappearance from history of Holy Russia, like a splendid sunset with its play of light across the heavens just before the actual setting of the sun.
The blessed Elder Nilus from his childhood imbibed spirituality from the disciples of Paisius who would visit his father's house and he spent long years in working together on restoring the St. Nilus hermitage with Elder Timon, who had lived under the spiritual direction of St. Seraphim of Sarov. These two great servants of God were the grace-bearing rays who formed the future intercessor for the Russian land and candidate to sainthood.
The future Hieromonk Nilus (Prikhudalov) was born on Nov.21, 1801 to a large family in a village in the Vladimir Province. His father corresponded with the great Elder Paisius, who considered him to have "faithfully grasped the teachings of spirituality" and sent to him those with spiritual-religious questions. When the young Nicholas (the future Fr. Nilus) left the world, he entered the neighboring Florishevich Hermitage, after which he moved to Krivosersk Monastery on the Volga and from thence was appointed by the abbot of the St. Cyril of White Lake Monastery to the duty of rebuilding the St. Nilus of Sora Hermitage, where he was to spend the greater part of his life. He endured many hardships and raised the condition of the hermitage of the Venerable Nilus to an exemplary level, for which the saint thanked him and blessed him in a vison.
In the rebuilding of the run-down hermitage churches, he was greatly assisted by the Countess Anna Orlova (who secretly was a nun), whose spiritual director was the ardent defender of the purity of holy Orthodoxy (to this day still unappreciated), Archimandrite Photius of the Yuriev Monastery. This ascetic and clairvoyant passed into history as a true confessor who battled with the enemies of the Orthodox Church: the Protestants, Masons and the "ecumenists" of that time - the Bible Society.
Fr. Nilus was a fine iconographer in the traditional style and a talented composer of church prayers and hymnody.
Among the dwellers of his monastery were truly saintly persons like the brothers Sergius and Theophan, monks Elias and Nicholas. But the most note worthy was the humble novice, the crippled rasophore monk John, who posessed the gift of clairvoyance and even walked on water.
The Elder Nilus himself also manifested the gift of clairvoyance and before his end, while living in isolation on the site of the original cell of the Venerable Nilus, he more than once experienced the manifestation of the invisible spiritual world. He was a great faster and man of prayer. After his righteous and peaceful repose on July 19, 1870, Fr. Nil us appeared to one of his monks and said: "Do not grieve for me, Fr. Simeon, I have gained the mercy of God." The abbess of the Gornitsky-Resurrection Convent, Mavrilaa, after her death appeared in sleep to one of her nuns and counseled her to reveal to the sisters that she was now in a blessed dwelling place, prepared by the Elder Hieromonk Nilus." There have been healings at his grave, like those of the great canonized saints".
May the Lord assist us through the prayers of the blessed Elder Nil us of NiTo-Sorsky, in the preservation of true Orthodoxy and to the attainment of salvation in the Lord. Amen.

Translated from the Russian by Timothy Fisher.

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