Relics of 15th–16th-century Russian saint uncovered

Bolshoy Klimetsk Island, Karelia, Russia, February 9, 2024

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In June 2022, remains were found at the Holy Trinity-Klimetsk Monastery on Bolshoy Klimetsk Island in the Russian Republic of Karelia.

After in-depth study, it was determined that they belong to St. Jonah of Klimetsk, an ascetic saint of the 15th–16th century who founded the monastery. And based on a report from His Eminence Metropolitan Konstantin of Petrozavodsk and Karelia, the remains were blessed to be venerated as holy relics by His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow last month, reports the Diocese of Petrozavodsk.

A diocesan feast of the uncovering of his relics was also established for June 16/29.

The process of finding and verifying the relics of St. Jonah began in August 2020, when Met. Konstantin established a commission for that purpose. The excavation, which lasted a day and a half, began with a moleben before the start of any good work and a prayer to St. Jonah.

Eventually, the remains of an old chapel that once stood over the grave of St. Jonah were uncovered, and then the remains of the saint.

“The remains, which had lain in the ground for 486 years, were brought to the surface with care and reverence, then examined and described by a forensic expert and placed in wooden ark boxes specially prepared for this purpose.”

Half of St. Jonah’s relics were found on June 29, 2022, and the other half on August 25.

Upon completion of the archaeological work, architectural-historical, anthropological, isotopic and medical-forensic studies were carried out, by which it was established that the remains reliably belong to St. Jonah (†1534).


Photo: Photo: St. Jonah of Klimetsk, in the world John, became a monk, and founded the Klimetsk Trinity Monastery in fulfillment of a vow.

In 1490 he had been caught by a storm on Lake Onega. When there was no hope for survival, John cried out to the Lord, entreating Him to preserve his life so he might repent and serve God. The boat was thrown onto a sandbar by the waves. There he heard the voice of the Lord commanding him to found a monastery in honor of the Life-Creating Trinity.

He miraculously discovered a holy icon on a juniper tree. The saint fulfilled the will of the Lord and built a monastery with two churches, one dedicated to the Most Holy Trinity and the other in honor of St. Nicholas, protector of those who sail and those who travel.

Refusing the rank of igumen, St. Jonah remained a simple monk at the monastery. He died on June 6, 1534. A church was built over his relics, and was dedicated to Sts. Zachariah and Elizabeth.

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