Orthodox - Day of St Maxim the Greek

Day of St Maxim the Greek

St Maxim the Greek (XV - XVI c.), being the son of the rich dignitary in the Greek city of Arta some twenty years after the Turkish capture of Constantinople, got bright education. As a young man he had traveled a lot and studied languages and sciences of European countries. He had been in Paris, Florence, and Venice. When he returned home he became a monk in the Vatopedi monastery on Mount Athos. There he studied with enthusiasm the ancient manuscripts left by Greek emperors (Andronik Paleolog and Ioan Kantakuzen). At that time Prince Vasilij Ioanovich of Moscow (1505-1533) desired to examine in Greek manuscripts and books of his mother Sophie Paleolog and addressed to Patriarch of Constantinople to send to him a learned Greek. Enoch Maxim had to go to Moscow. When he arrived he took the task to interpret into Slavonic the Psalter, the book of the Acts of the Apostles and some book of Divine service.

St Maxim heartily tried to do the work. But as Slavonic was not native for the interpreter, of course, there were some inaccuracies in the translations.

Metropolitan Varlaam of Moscow rated highly the works of St Maxim. When Metropolitan Daniil came to the throne, the attitude was changed. New metropolitan demanded from St Maxim to translate into Slavonic the church story of St Feodorit. St Maxim the Greek refused explaining that "the letters of Arius the splitter are included in this story and this can be dangerous for people". That rejection created hostility between St Maxim and the Metropolitan. In spite of squabbling St Maxim continued heartily working in the field of Russian education. He wrote letters against Muhammadans, papistry, pagans. He translated commentary of St Ioan Zlatoust into the Gospel from Matfei and Ioan and wrote several own works.

When Prince the Great intended to dissolve a marriage because of barrenness of his wife Solomonia, brave confessor Maxim sent a letter to Prince "Instructive chapters to the heads of true believers" where he proved earnestly that the position obliged Prince not to submit to animal passion. St Maxim was imprisoned. From that time it began new and long-suffering period of his life. Inaccuracies, which were found out in his translations, were imputed to St Maxim as intentional books' spoiling. He felt miserable in prison but among sufferings he gained the great God's grace. The Angel came to him and said: "Have patience, elder! With these pains you will get rid of eternal sufferings". In the prison St Maxim wrote on a wall with coal a canon to the Holy Spirit which is read up to the present time.

After six years St Maxim was released from custody and was sent under a church ban to Tver. There he lived under supervision of kindly bishop Akakii which graciously managed with the innocent. St Maxim wrote the autobiographic work "Thoughts with which sorrowful Enoch in prison consoled and strengthened himself in patience". Here are some words from this bright work: "Do not grieve, do not mourn, do not miss, dear soul for unfairness Е" Only after twenty years of residence time in Tver, St Maxim was allowed to live without supervision and was taked a church ban away. The last years of his life he spent in the Holy Trinity - Saint Sergius Lavra. He was about 70. Persecutions and works had an effect on his health but his mind was kind and he continued working. Together with his disciple Nil, St Maxim heartily translated Psalter from Greek into Slavonic. Neither persecutions nor imprisonments break St Maxim.

He passed away on January 21, 1556. St Maxim was buried at northwestern wall of the church of the Holy Spirit in the Trinity Lavra. At the end of the sixteenth century his holy relics were attested, from which many miracles were achieved, and a troparion and kondakion were composed as well as a service. St Maxim's image is often portrayed on the saints' icon of the Radonej Cathedral.

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