Get Up From Your Sick Bed—I’ll Take Your Place

On Elder Dositheos of the Roslavl Forests and Optina

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Elder Dositheos was of the Odnodvortsy1 of Dragunskaya Sloboda in the city of Karachev, Orel Governorate. He initially lived at the Ploschansk Kazan Hermitage, where he was tonsured into monasticism, and he then spent forty years as a desert ascetic in the Roslavl forests of the Smolensk Governorate with Elders Barnabas, Nikita, Iakov, Vasilisk, Zosima, Adrian, Athanasy, Arseny, and others. Also living in Ploshchansk Hermitage at the time was the novice Timothy, who would soon become Fr. Moses, the abbot of Optina Monastery .

Fr. Dositheos arrived at Optina in October 1827 and was received with joy and honor by Fr. Moses as an elder by his disciple. He was settled into the skete. The Elder was distinguished by an especial simplicity and a childlike gentleness.

A little while before the Elder’s repose, there was an incident worthy of attention and memory. The wife of the Tula landowner A. S. Voeikov, still a young woman, was suffering from a high fever. All the doctors’ efforts proved ineffective. The frightened spouse and relatives, despairing of her recovery, could do nothing but await her impending repose. Suddenly, after talking to someone quietly as it seemed to them, she rose from her bed and asked: “Where’s the monk who just came to me?” When they swore to her that no one had come in, that they hadn’t seen anyone, at that moment she felt relief from her pain and said that the one who came to her had said: “Why are you lying there? Get up and go to Optina Hermitage to serve a moleben, and I’ll lie down in your place—thus God has commanded.”

A few days later she had completely recovered, and as soon as her strength allowed, she went to Optina with her husband to give thanks to the Lord God for her recovery. Upon arrival, they got out of the carriage and walked along the path leading to the skete. At that time, all the brethren, both of the main monastery and of the skete, were at their common obedience of haying. Only Elder Dositheos remained in the skete. Strolling through the forest outside the gates, he met the visitors and with a simple-hearted greeting led them into the skete and showed them around. The encounter with Fr. Dositheos struck the former patient. She looked at the Elder with reverent joy, and barely concealing this feeling, quietly said to her husband: “This monk is strikingly similar in both appearance and simplicity of speech to the one who appeared to me in my illness.”

Soon, after an illness that lasted a while, Fr. Dositheos quietly reposed at the age of 75, having spent fifty years in monasticism. He died on December 22, 1828.

Translation by Jesse Dominick


1 A social group of the Russian gentry in the late 17th—mid-19th centuries. See:

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