Kozelsk, Russia, October 27, 2020
Yesterday, October 26, on the feast of the Iveron Icon of the Mother of God, Hierodeacon Iliodor (Gairiyants) of Optina Monastery reposed in the Lord at the age of 72.
Fr. Iliodor had labored at Optina since 1989, just a year after it was reopened.
He was affectionately known as the “voice of Optina,” and all the brethren, pilgrims, and parishioners of the monastery fondly remember Fr. Iliodor for the numerous acts of charity he carried out “seemingly without fatigue, around the clock,” writes the Optina press service.
The abbot, Bishop Leonid of Mozhaisk, writes that Fr. Iliodor reposed in the hospital early in the morning, and the first memorial service for the repose of his soul was served after the Divine Liturgy for the feast of the Iveron Icon. He suffered from complications due to the coronavirus, reports a Russian Church commission.
A memorial service for Fr. Iliodor will be served this evening in the monastery’s Church of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God. His funeral will be served after the late Liturgy tomorrow by Bp. Leonid.
May his memory be eternal!
Fr. Iliodor was born on June 23, 1947 in Baku, Azerbaijan, receiving the name George in Baptism.
He served in the Russian air force in Kaliningrad from 1966 to 1969 and then received a higher education in economics in Moscow.
He began his life of obedience at Optina in 1989. He was tonsured as a riassophore monk with the name Theophil on August 28, 1990, and as a stavrophore monk on April 7, 1994, receiving the name Iliodor. He was ordained as a hierodeacon by His Holiness Patriarch Alexei II on December 4, 1990. In 1992, he was awarded the right to wear the double orarion.
Fr. Iliodor was often the first person a pilgrim would meet at Optina. In the early years after its reopening, before the monastery’s excursion and pilgrimage services were developed, he would introduce spiritual seekers to the churches and holy relics of Optina, and would often comfort and pray together with them, and offer spiritual advice.
“For many people, Optina Monastery began with talking with Fr. Iliodor and has remained their spiritual homeland forever,” the monastery writes. “It was this first meeting that became their starting point on their way to God.”
Fr. Iliodor helped everyone: the sick, the infirm, the monastery works, he inspired benefactors to donate money to churches under construction, he helped orphanages, old folks’ homes, Orthodox schools, large families, the poor, and so on.
He is also remembered as a great man of prayer. Every day after the evening services, he remained to pray the Akathist to the Queen of Heaven with the pilgrims, and was often found in the chapel where the Optina Paschal martyrs—Hieromonk Vasily and Monks Trofim and Ferapont—are buried. And after prayer, he would give the pilgrims a spiritual word.
“For many, his voice was associated with the soul of the Optina Hermitage,” the monastery writes, and all the important dates of his life were connected with the Most Holy Theotokos. He reposed on the day of her Iveron Icon, and his 40th day will fall on the monastery’s patronal feast of the Entrance of the Most Holy Theotokos Into the Temple.
“We believe that the Queen of Heaven will take this monk, who devoted his entire life without reserve to the service of God and men, under her protection,” the monastery concludes.
Read more about Fr. Iliodor in our articles, “When You Humble Yourself, the Lord Comes and Does Everything For You,” “How Spiritual Laws Work in Our Lives,” and “The Lord Speaks to Our Souls Through the Circumstances of Our Lives.”