The monastery was unusual. It didn't follow the coenobitic way of life, like most monasteries in Russia. Instead, it was set up like the Athonite sketes. Taking up residence in separate cells, the monks lived by the work of their hands . . .
The Venerable Nilus of Sora
In the 15th century, a great ascetic lived in Russia. His name was Nilus. He started on the path of monasticism in the famous monastery of St. Cyrill in Belozersk. After a short time there, he traveled to various holy places in the East.
For several years he lived on the holy Mount Athos, studying the works of the holy fathers. He took them to heart, and transformed them into a practical guide for life.
Having returned to his homeland, he wished to practice greater asceticism. He settled near his monastery on the banks of the river Sora.
When the monks heard about the ascetic, they were drawn to him, and a monastery rose up in that place. But the monastery was unusual. It didn't follow the coenobitic way of life, like most Russia.
Instead, it was set up like the Athonite sketes. The monks lived by the work of their hands in separate cells. They didn't own any of the monastery's land.
He was a model to the brethren, demonstrating hard work and non-possessiveness. More than anything, he taught them to pray the Jesus prayer, instructing them in deep prayerfulness and spiritual discipline. After all, a monk's main duty is to struggle against his thoughts and passions.
As a result of this struggle, the monk's soul becomes peaceful, his mind becomes pure, and his heart is filled with contrition and love.
Having left such great works behind him, the venerable Nilus departed to the Lord. His relics have performed many miracles. The Russian Orthodox Church numbered him among the saints for his great asceticism and miracles.
The twentieth of May is the feast day of the Venerable Nilus of Sora.
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