Mark the Grave-digger of the Kiev Caves, venerable (Near Caves)

Dates of commemoration

Jan 11

(Church calendar - Dec 29)

Mar 24

(Church calendar - Mar 11) Synaxis of all Venerable Fathers of the Kiev Caves (movable feast on the 2nd Sunday of the Great Lent)

Jul 28
(Church calendar - Jul 15) Synaxis of All Saints of Kiev
Oct 11

(Church calendar - Sep 28) Synaxis of the Saints of the Kievan Caves Monastery, venerated in the near caves of Venerable Anthony


Saints Mark the Grave-Digger, Theophilus and John are mentioned in the Kiev Caves Paterikon. Two brothers being monastics, Saints Theophilus and John, so loved each other that they prevailed upon Saint Mark to prepare a double grave so they could be buried side by side.

Many years later, the older of the two brothers was away on monastery business. During this time his brother John fell ill and died. Several days later, Saint Theophilus returned and went with the brethren to view his brother’s body. Seeing that he lay at the higher place in their common grave, he became indignant with Saint Mark and said, “Why did you put him in my place? I am older than he.”

The cave-dweller Mark, bowed humbly to Saint Theophilus and asked that he forgive him. Turning to the dead man, he said, “Arise, give this place to your older brother, and you lie down in the other place.” And the dead man moved to the lower place in the grave. Seeing this, Saint Theophilus fell down at the knees of Saint Mark begging his forgiveness. The cave-dweller Mark told Theophilus that he ought to be concerned for his own salvation, because soon he would join his brother in that place.

Hearing this, Saint Theophilus became terrified and decided that he would soon die. He gave away everything that he possessed, keeping only his mantle, and every day he awaited the hour of death. No one was able to stop his tears, nor to tempt him with tasty food. Tears were his bread by day and by night (Ps 41/42:3). God granted him several years more for repentance, which he spent in fasting and lamentation. He even went blind from continuous weeping.

Saint Mark forsaw the hour of his death and told Theophilus he would soon depart this life. Theophilus pleaded, “Father, either take me with you, or restore my sight.” Saint Mark said to Theophilus, “Do not desire death, it shall come in its own time, even if you do not wish it. Let this be the sign of your impending end: three days before you depart this world, your eyesight will return.”

The words of the saint were fulfilled. The body of Saint Theophilus was placed in the Antoniev Cave in the grave together with his brother Saint John, near the relics of Saint Mark. Their memory is celebrated also on September 28 and on the second Sunday of Great Lent.


Holy relic type

unless specified otherwise below, "holy relic" means a fragment of a bone of the saint

Holy relic

Location of the holy relic in the Cathedral:

North kliros, reliquary #5



Тропарь преподобного Марка гробокопателя, Печерского, в Ближних пещерах
глас 1
Умертвив плотския похоти многим воздержанием/ и копанием гробов святым,/ присно, аки мертв, в пещере живя,/ мертвыя повелением своим воздвизал еси,/ Марко прехвальне,/ мертви и наша мудрования плотская/ и настави нас на течение добродетелей,/ моля о нас Единаго Человеколюбца.


Кондак преподобного Марка гробокопателя, Печерского, в Ближних пещерах
глас 8
Врача изрядна и чудотворца любовию, вернии, ублажим, просяще его:/ да молитвами своими уврачует наша страсти, душевныя и телесныя,/ имать бо на сие благодать от Бога,/ и прогонит духи лукавыя от всех, верно ко гробу его притекающих и зовущих:/ радуйся, Марко, целителю немощей наших.

Address of our Cathedral

  • 4001 17th St. N.W.,
  • Washington, D.C., 20011

Phone  (202) 726-3000




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