St. Arsenius, Bishop of Tver, Feast 2 March

St. Arsenius, Bishop of Tver, Feast 2 March

according to Church tradition, was born in Tver, the exact year of his birth and his parents' names being unknown.

He was brought up in piety and the fear of God. St. Arsenius lost his parents early on, and being the only heir to their rich estate, made his house a shelter for strangers and the poor, and because of this his relatives reviled him. In despair as to how to overcome "this animosity and great struggle" the youth decided to leave the world and prayed to God to show him the way. Hearing a voice in a dream that called him to go to Kiev, he secretly left Tver and set out for the Kiev Caves Monastery, where he became a monk.

This virtuous and industrious monk, who conducted himself as Christ taught from his very youth, and was experienced in the rules of the Church, attracted the attention of St. Kiprian, the future Metropolitan of Moscow (+1406), who was living in Kiev at the time. The high priest grew fond of monk Arsenius, drew him nearer and ordained him to the rank of hierodeacon. When St. Kiprian became the Metropolitan of Moscow, he took St. Arsenius with him to Moscow ashis archdeacon. He also took care of his correspondence and everything that referred to the internal organization of the Metropolitan's diocese.

At that time, Mikhail Alexandrovich, the Prince of Tver, and Euphemius, the slandered Bishop of Tver, were at hard variance with each other. Bishop Euphemius unjustly lost his cathedra and was exiled to the Chudov Monastery in Moscow, where he died soon after (1392). Metropolitan Kiprian appointed his archdeacon Arsenius (according to the Nikon's chronicle he was a protodeacon), "a manly looking, famous and virtuous man", to replace Bishop Euphemius. St. Arsenius declined to accept the appointment for quite some time, but he could not oppose the will of Grand Prince Mikhail Alexandrovich indefinitely. St. Stephen of Perm was one of the bishops consecratied St. Arsenius on August 15,1391 at the Cathedral of the Transfiguration in Tver.

After having become bishop, St. Arsenius sought to put an end to the Prince's discords, and to bring peace and harmony to his native town. In 1403 he succeeded in reconciling Ioann Mikhailovich, the Prince of Tver, with his brother Vasily Mikhailovich, the Prince of Kashin. St. Arsenius preached God's word zealously and served as an example of a worthy archpastor in all that he did.

Feeling his time on earth coming to an end, Mikhail Alexandrovich, the Prince of Tver (+ 1399) came to St. Arsenius to ask to be tonsured. St. Arsenius, thanking God, made him a monk with the name of Matthew.

During the many years of his ministry as a bishop St. Arsenius built and consecrated cathedrals in honor of the Archangel Michael in Staritsa and Mikulino; St. Nicholas in Staritsa; renovated the stone Cathedral of the Transfiguration in Tver, and laid the foundation of its new belfry. In 1397 within 20 miles of Tver on the river Tma he founded the St. Savva monastery in honor of the Meeting of the Lord, where Sts. Savva and Barsanuphius were first monks after having been tonsured on Mt. Athos.

St. Arsenius did not forget about the Kiev Caves monastery, where he began his monastic labors. In 1394 on the river Tmak, within 4 miles of Tver, in the village of Zheltikovo, he founded a monastery, where a wooden chapel in honor of Sts. Anthony and Theodosius of the Kiev Caves was built. On August 30,1405 in the Zheltikov monastery St. Arsenius consecrated the stone church in honor of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos.

In 1406 the construction of the Zheltikov monastery was finished and according to the will of St. Arsenius the monks made a copy of the Kiev Caves Patericon (the first collection of the lives of Russian saints). It is the earliest edition of this priceless memorial to the Russian written language that has reached our times and is best known under the name of Arsenievskaya. Two manuscripts of "The Ladder" of St. John of the Ladder (of 1402 and 1404) are among the books that have been recopied according to St. Arsenius's will and preserved up to this very day.

St. Arsenius reposed in the Lord in 1409 during Great Lent. The clergy arrived in Tver as usual in time for the so-called "Synod" Sunday (the first Sunday of Great Lent, the Sunday of Orthodoxy; on that day the priests would come to their bishop to make up a diocesan council). On Tuesday St. Arsenius appealed to the pastors, blessed them and dismissed the council. He reposed in the Lord on March 2.

St. Arsenius was buried in Zheltikov monastery, in the vestibule of the right side-altar, which was dedicated to the icon of the Saviour Made-Without-Hands, in the Dormition Church, in the coffin that he had made himself. According to the chronicle, many of the sick who came there with faith were healed.

The icon-painting original contains the following description of St. Arsenius: "He looks like an old man with a long, grey beard, like as that of Sergius, dressed as a schemamonk, in his mantia, with his omophorion flung over his shoulders, his right hand blessing and the left one holding the Gospel".

The relics of St. Arsenius were found incorrupt in Zheltikov monastery in 1483. Since that year his commemoration was established in Tver according to the blessing of Bishop Vassian of Tver. Seven miracles, which St. Arsenius had performed, were depicted on his silver shrine: 1) bringing the fisherman Terentius back to life; 2) giving a son to Ioann Kartash; 3) the healing of archpriest Alexy, who suffered greatly from his legs; 4) healing a maiden, Ustinia Golovlenkova, 5) saving a man from strangulation; 6) with the shroud of the saint (when in 1606 the Poles burst into Zheltikov monastery one horseman tore off the shroud that was over the shrine of st. Arsenius and put it on his horse. It reared up and fell down together with the man and both were found dead); and 7) healing Gregory and his wife, who were both formerly insane.

St. Arsenius was canonized at the Moscow Council of 1547. In Russia he is also commemorated on the first Sunday after June 29, the commemoration date of the Synaxis of the Saints of Tver.