Venerable John Vishensky the Athonite ranked amongst the saints

Source: Russian Athos

July 30, 2016

The eminent Athonite ascetic and Orthodox
author-polemicist Venerable John Vishenkky was glorified
with the saints on July 28 on the square by the Dormition
Cathedral of the Kiev Caves Lavra, reports a correspondent
of Russian Athos.

Services in honor of the Day of the Baptism of Kievan
Rus’ and the 1000 year anniversary of ancient
Russian monasticism on Athos during which the saint was
canonized were celebrated by His Beatitude Metropolitan
Onufry of Kiev and All Ukraine as head of the Synod of
Bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Representatives
of Local Orthodox Churches and a delegation from Holy
Mount Athos participated in the rite of glorification.

On July 29 (July 16 O.S.) the Church celebrated the memory
of Venerable John Vishensky the Athonite for the first
time.

 

The decision to glorify the saint was preceded by long and
tedious work in archives of Ukraine and Mt. Athos, the
results of which were published in the book Elder John
Vishensky: Athonite Ascetic and Orthodox
Author-Polemicist. Materials for the Biography of
“The Great Elder John Vishensky the Athonite of
Blessed Memory
,” by the director of the
International Institute of Athonite Heritage in Ukraine,
Sergei Shumilo. This work served as the basis for the
drafting of the biography of the eminent Athonite ascetic
and author.

Venerable John Vishensky (1550’s-1620’s) was
one of the greatest Russian ascetics, playing an important
role in the opposition to the expansion of Polish
Catholicism and in the revival of Orthodoxy in Ukraine in
the sixteenth century. Already during his life he enjoyed
great veneration among the monastics of Volhynia and
Galica who reverently called him “the great Elder
John Vishensky the Athonite.”

The fact of the Church’s glorification of Elder John
is even enshrined in official Synodal acts. Thus the
Church Council of the Kiev Metropolia, held in Lutsk under
the chairmanship of Metropolitan Job (Boretsky) in 1621,
in one of its documents on behalf of the whole Church
refers to Elder John as a “venerable man” and
“blessed,” “in life and theological
flowering.” Much later, already in the nineteenth
century, Panteleimon Kulish called him the “Athonite
Apostle.” Elder John was a co-ascetic of such
pillars of Orthodoxy as Venerable Job (Knyaginitsky) of
Tysmenystya and Venerable Job (Zhelizo) of Pochaev, having
exerted considerable influence on their spiritual paths.

 

The successors of the heritage and deeds of Elder John are
considered famous ascetics and fighters against the Unia:
Isaac Boriskovich, Cyprian Ostrozhanin, Isaiah Kopinsky,
Athanasy Mezhigorsky, the monk-martyr Athanasy
(Phippovich) of Brest and many others . The elder labored
on Athos for more than forty years. In particular, he
initially bore obedience and passed through spiritual
formation in the ancient Russian monastery of St.
Panteleimon (“Old Russikon”), and also in the
skete of “Ksilurgu,” founded by the holy
Equal-to-the-Apostles Prince Vladimir. At the end of his
life he withdrew to a reclusive cave not far from Zografou
Monastery. On Athos he came under the influence of the
Igumen of the “Old Russikon” Archimandrite
Matthew, visited Ukraine by the invitation of Prince V. K.
Ostrozhsky and later participated in the anti-Uniatism
Council in Brest in 1596.

The life and deeds of Elder John coincided with the tragic
events of the persecution of the Orthodox in
Rzeczpospolita, in connection with which his efforts and
messages were aimed mainly at the defense of the Orthodox
faith. Among the many merits of the ascetic, besides
jealously upholding the purity of his paternal Orthodox
faith, he also participated in the founding of the Great
Manyavsky Skete in Carpathia and the revival of Athonite
statutes in monasteries in Galicia-Volhynia in the
seventeenth century.

According to Sergei Shumilo, the works of Venerable John
lie at the foundation of a new polemical direction in
Ukrainian literature in the seventeenth century which
developed after the Brest Unia. Several generations of
authors were brought up on the works of the elder,
including ecclesial-cultural and public figures in
Ukraine. Having undergone a “new birth” and
multiple reprints in the nineteenth and twentieth
centuries, his writings even in Soviet times were found in
school textbooks and readers. Thus, thanks to the writings
of the Athonite elder-hermit of the seventeenth century,
in the twentieth century many young people in the years of
reigning atheism were first introduced to the spiritual
treasure of Orthodox and faith in God.

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