St. Alexius of Moscow Wonderworker of All Russia (+February 12, 1378)
Commemorated February 12
St. Alexius (also spelled Alexios, Alexy), Metropolitan of Moscow and All Russia the Wonderworker was born in 1292 at Moscow into the family of the noble Theodore Byakont, a descendant of the Chernigov princely line.
The Lord revealed to St. Alexius his destiny from early childhood. At twelve years of age, he went to a field and set nets to ensnare birds. He dozed off and suddenly he heard a voice: “Alexius! Why do you toil in vain? You are to be a catcher of people.” From that day forward, he abandoned childish games and spent much time in solitude. He frequently visited church, and when he was fifteen he decided to become a monk.
In 1320, St. Alexius entered Moscow’s Theophany monastery, where he spent more than twelve years in strict monastic struggles. Metropolitan Theognostus, who had taken notice of the virtuous life and spiritual gifts of St. Alexius, directed him to leave the monastery and manage the ecclesiastical courts. The saint fulfilled this office for twelve years. Towards the end of 1350, Metropolitan Theognostus consecrated St. Alexius as Bishop of Vladimir and he became the Metropolitan’s successor after his death in 1354.
During this time, the Russian Church was torn by great rifts and quarrels. In 1356, St. Alexius went to Constantinople to the Ecumenical Patriarch. Patriarch Callistus gave St. Alexius the right to both be called and to consider himself Archbishop of Kiev and Great Russia with the title, “All-Venerable Metropolitan and Exarch.”
On the return journey, during a storm at sea, the ship was in danger of shipwreck. St. Alexius prayed and vowed to build a temple to the saint of that day on which the ship should come to shore. The storm subsided, and the ship arrived on August 16.
In spite of pressing problems on every side, St. Alexius devoted himself to his flock. He appointed bishops, established monasteries, and brought order to Russian relations with the Khans of the Horde. He traveled more than once to the Golden Horde. In 1357 the Khan told the Great Prince that he should come to him and heal the blindness of Taidulla, his wife. “This is beyond my powers,” said St. Alexius, “but I believe that God, Who gave sight to the blind, will also aid me.” Through his prayer, and after being sprinkled with holy water, the wife of the Khan was healed.
In 1361, St. Alexius founded the Icon of the Savior Not-Made-by-Hands monastery at the Yauza in Moscow, fulfilling the vow he had made on his return journey from Constantinople, when the ship was in danger.
St. Alexius also founded the Chudov monastery in the Moscow Kremlin and restored ancient monasteries. In 1361, a women’s monastery was named for him (the Alekseev).
St. Alexius reposed on February 12, 1378 at the age of 87.