Kiev, May 27, 2019
Photo: wikimedia.org Ukrainian historian Sergei Shumilo, the director of the International Institute of the Athonite Heritage in Ukraine, has established new information about the life of St. Lawrence of Chernigov, a 19th-20th century saint known for the gift of prophecy.
In addition to establishing the date of the saint’s birth and Baptism, Shumilo has also discovered previously unknown archival documents that shed light on the asceticism and trials that St. Lawrence endured, Shumilo reports.
“I managed to find valuable documents in the archives about St. Lawrence (Proskur) of Chernigov, his connections with Athos, and his interrogations in the NKVD… It’s important that thanks to the discovered documents, it was possible to establish the exact dates of the birth and Baptism of Venerable Lawrence of Chernigov, which before that I hadn’t come across anywhere in any of the well-known studies of the ascetic,” Shumilo explains.
In particular, Shumilo unearthed a document that dates back to May 25, 1909, as well as documents concerning interrogations of St. Lawrence as part of the investigation of September 19, 1936 by the Soviet Union’s Interior Ministry (NKVD).
“The investigation reveals the true nature of the holiness of the ascetic, who answered as a true monk should during the interrogations, refusing to inform on or slander anyone. The NKVD charged him with participation in the activities of an anti-Soviet underground organization in Chernigov, but they couldn’t prove it,” Shumilo writes, adding that St. Lawrence, nearly 70 years old at the time, managed to avoid imprisonment, while many others involved in the case, including priests from Chernigov, unfortunately died in the concentration camps.
Shumilo also writes of a newly-discovered letter of St. Lawrence and Athonite hierodeacon Magistirion (Bugayov) about a trip to the village of Karilskoe in the Chernigov Province, the birth place of St. Lawrence, in September-October 1926. At that time, six residents from the village were laboring as ascetics on Mt. Athos in the Russian St. Panteleimon’s Monastery.
The historian also recalls that St. Lawrence dreamed of spending his entire life on Mt. Athos, but God called him to serve in Chernigov during the Soviet persecution of the faith. He also notes that he hopes to soon write a book about the saint’s connections with Mt. Athos and the NKVD interrogations.
St. Lawrence of Chernigov was born in 1868 in the village of Karilskoe in the Chernigov Governorate. He entered monasticism at the age of 45 in 1912. In 1914, he was ordained as a hierodeacon, and in 1916 as a hieromonk. He was secretly tonsured into the schema in Kiev in 1923 by Schema-Igumen Gabriel of the Kiev Caves Lavra. Schema-Archimandrite Lawrence reposed in the Lord on January 19, 1950. His relics are located at the walls of the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Chernigov.
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