Sergius of Radonezh

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Sergius of Radonezh


(also Sergii Radonezhskii; secular name, Varfolomei Kirillovich). Born circa 1321 near Rostov Velikii; died Sept. 25, 1391, in the St. Sergius Trinity Monastery, in what is now Zagorsk, Moscow Oblast. Russian church and political figure.

Sergius’ boyar family, suffering obligatory payments to the Tatars and the internecine wars of the Russian princes, resettled in the Moscow Principality and was given lands near the city of Radonezh. Sometime between 1330 and 1340, Sergius and Stefan, his older brother, founded the Trinity Monastery; Sergius became the monastery’s second abbot circa 1353, remaining in that position until 1391. He abolished the system of separate dwellings for the monks, which had existed up to that time, and introduced a system of communal quarters. The communal system, supported by the grand prince, the Russian metropolitan, and the patriarch in Constantinople, spread to other monasteries in northeastern Rus’ and proved to be an important reform that helped turn the monasteries into large feudal complexes.

Sergius had close ties with the family of Grand Prince Dmi-trii Ivanovich Donskoi (he was the godfather of lurii and Petr, Dmitrii’s sons) and with prominent boyars and high-ranking members of the church hierarchy. These ties, together with his moral authority, made it possible for him to influence the church and political affairs of his time. In 1380, Sergius helped Dmitrii prepare for the Battle of Kulikovo, and in 1385 he reconciled Dmitrii’s conflict with the Riazan’ prince, Oleg. Sergius was buried in the monastery that he founded. He was later canonized by the Russian church. The oldest life of Sergius was written by Epifanii Premudryi.


Gorev, M. Troilskaia lavra i Sergii Radonezhskii. Moscow. 1920.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.