Moscow, October 9, 2019
By decree No. 479 of October 4 of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Archimandrite Iliy (Nozdrin), perhaps the most beloved and revered elder in Russia today, was awarded the Order of Honor, reports the press service of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Elder Iliy, 87, is connected with several of the holiest sites in Russian Orthodoxy, having labored in asceticism for many decades at the Pskov Caves Monastery, St. Panteleimon’s Monastery on Mt. Athos, and Optina Monastery. Today he lives in the Moscow suburb of Peredelkino and serves as the confessor to His Holiness Patriarch Kirill.
As noted in the presidential decree, Elder Iliy received the medal “for accomplishments in the preservation and development of spiritual and cultural traditions and active work aimed at strengthening friendship between peoples.”
Elder Iliy also received the Church Order of St. Seraphim of Sarov, First Degree from Pat. Kirill in 2017, “in recognition of many years of pastoral labors and in connection with his eighty-fifth birthday.”
The same presidential decree also awarded the Order of Friendship to Vladimir Legoida, the Chairman of the Synodal Department for Relations of the Church With Society and the Media “for achieved labor successes, active public work, and long-term conscientious work.”
The Order of Honor is a civil order, established in 1994, awarded for high achievements in various sectors of the national economy. The Order of Friendship is awarded for special merits in strengthening peace, friendship, cooperation and mutual understanding between peoples, rapprochement and mutual enrichment of the cultures of nations and nationalities, and success in public and charitable activities.
Fr. Iliy was born on March 8, 1932 in the village of Stanovoy Kolodez in the Orel Region, 250 miles southwest of Moscow. He served in the army and studied in Serpukhov’s engineering college. After studying in the Leningrad Seminary and Academy and his monastic tonsure he labored in various parishes in the Leningrad Diocese. He also bore obedience in Pskov Caves Monastery for ten years.
In 1976 he was sent to the Russian St. Panteleimon’s Monastery on Mt. Athos, where, along with other brothers, he managed to preserve its monastic life and uphold its connection with Russian Orthodoxy and to prevent the monastery’s closure. He bore obedience in the monastery, hiding in the mountain gorges, and was entrusted with the spiritual fatherhood of the monastery.
At the end of the 1980s he was sent to the then-reviving Optina Pustyn Monastery to be its spiritual father, after sixty-give years of desolation. There he received the tonsure into the great schema. Over the course of twenty years he helped to revive the spiritual eldership which the monastery had always been famous for.
In 2009, he resettled in the patriarchal podvoriye of the Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra in the Peredelkino suburb of Moscow.