Washington English

St. Bogolep, child schemamonk

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29 July/11 August

The venerable one was the son of the Muscovite courtiers Yakov Lukitch Umakov, and his wife Catherine. He was born in Moscow in 1660. At his baptism, he was given the name Boris, in honor of St. Boris, the righteous prince and passion-bearer.

Umakov was named governor of Chornyi Yar, 250 versts (about 166 miles) from Astrakhan. He was renowned for his fairness. From infancy Boris displayed unusual characteristics. On Wednesdays and Fridays he would not nurse at his mother’s breast. As soon as the church bells announcing the service rang out, he would immediately begin to cry; as soon as he was taken to church, his crying ceased. Whenever they did not take him to church, he would cry all day, and would refuse to eat anything.

In 1662, a deadly disease was rampant throughout Russia. The young boy became ill: the lesion broke out on his foot. Although he began to limp, he continued to attend church. His parents prayed for their son’s health and made every effort to heal him. However, as soon as one sickness abated, signs of another appeared on his face.

It happened that during his illness, the boy met a wandering youth who visited their home. His angelic habit so amazed the boy, that he immediately asked his parents to make him such a habit, and permit him to be tonsured. The saintly youth also told his parents. “You will see for yourselves that, as soon as you tonsure me and make me worthy of the Angelic image, I will be healthy.” The parents gave their assent. The boy was dressed in the schema and was given the name Bogolep (the Russian translation of the Greek name Theoprenius). The following day, the Holy Schemamonk Bogolep was entirely well, his face became clean and no trace of his illnesses remained. But on the third day, a new and fatal illness, anthrax, struck the youth. He reposed on 1 August 1667, and was buried at the left side of the wooden church of the Resurrection of Christ in Chornoyarsk. This church had been erected after the great fire which struck Chornyi Yar in 1652 on 24 July, the feast day of St. Boris. A chapel was erected over the grave of the young saint.

Because of the many miraculous healings by the prayers of Holy Schemamonk Bogolep, it was appointed that he be celebrated on July 24th, together with his patron, the Holy Righteous Prince Boris. The life of the Holy Schemamonk Bogolep was compiled in 1731-1732 by direction of the Chornoyarsk merchant Savva Tatarinov. Icons of the saint existed throughout the region of Astrakhan, as did a troparion and kontakion to the saint.

In 1750, a stone church was built to replace the wooden one; in it, in the left chapel, which was dedicated to the Holy Martyr St. John the Warrior, lay the tomb of the Holy Schema-monk. The river bank on which the Church of the Resurrection of Christ was built was always subject to flooding. In the mid-19th Century, the church became so imperiled that its holy objects were removed. The populace was hesitant to remove the coffin of their most venerated Holy Schema-monk. When, in 1851 the waters had already risen by almost five feet, the residents approached the Holy Synod to obtain permission to translate the holy relics of Schemamonk Bogolep. A little child’s coffin was found, but no sooner had the town administrator picked it up, that it slipped from his hands and together with the eroding soil, disappeared into the Volga.

This disappearance of the newly-discovered coffin was taken to be an act of God’s Providence, for the Holy Youth repeatedly appeared to many, both in dreams and in visible form, to people who walked along the shore or who had fallen down the hill. This became a source of comfort to the faithful, knowing that he would remain with them in spirit.

The simple life of the Venerable Schemamonk Bogolep, filled with the mysteries of God, shows the power of the Savior’s words regarding children: “Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter there. And he took them up into his arms, put His hands upon them, and blessed them.” (Mark 10:14-16).

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