Saint Ambrose of Optina

Saint Ambrose of Optina

Infobox Saint
name=Saint Ambrose of Optina
birth_date=5 December 1812
death_date=23 October 1891
feast_day=OldStyleDateNY|23 October|10 October (Repose)
OldStyleDateNY|10 July|27 June (Uncovering of Relics)
venerated_in=Eastern Orthodox Church

caption=Icon of St. Ambrose of Optina
birth_place=Bolshaya Lipovitsa settlement, Tambov, Russia
titles=Venerable Father
canonized_date= OldStyleDate|13 May|1990|30 April in Montreal, Canada by the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad
OldStyleDate|7 August|2000|25 July by the Moscow Patriarchate
attributes=Clothed as a monk, sometimes holding a scroll

Venerable Ambrose of Optina (Russian: преподобный Амвросий Оптинский; name at birth: Aleksandr Mikhaylovich Grenkov - Александр Михайлович Гренков, December 5, 1812, Bolshaya Lipovitsa settlement, Tambov guberniyaOctober 23, 1891) was a "starets" and a hieroschemamonk in Optina Monastery, canonized in 1988 by the Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church.


Aleksandr was born in the family of sexton Mikhail Fyodorovich Grenkov and Marfa Nikolayevna Grenkova. He was the sixth of eight children. At the age of 12 Aleksandr entered the Tambov clerical school and later the Tambov theological seminary. Then he became a teacher in the Lipetsk clerical school and in 1839 entered the Vvedensk Monastery of the Optina Monastery in Kaluga guberniya when the monastery was in its spiritual heyday. His first guide was Starets (Elder) Leonid and then later Starets Makary, whom Ambrose shared a cell with. This gave him get help in his spiritual progress.

Ambrose had a very lively humor and sociable character which conflicted with his more stoic spiritual discipline. Ambrose had many struggles with illness throughout his life building upon these struggles for insight into the human condition. Ambrose was tonsured as a monk, after only three years, in 1842. He was given the religious name Ambrose in honour of Saint Ambrose of Milan. In another three years Ambrose advanced and was ordained a hieromonk (priest).

Due to illness Ambrose was forced into semi-reclusion for several years. This seclusion allowed him to concentrate on the mastering of the Jesus Prayer or hesychasm and to experience the meaning of hesychia, the silence of the soul before God or theoria. Even though of a weak constitution Father Ambrose continued work assist Elder Makary with the translation of the Holy Fathers. Father Ambrose maintained his correspondence and counsel to pilgrims, and later as a staretz (elder) out of love for all people he counseled any who sought him.

When Elder Macarius died in September, 1860, Father Ambrosius became the superior (igumen) of the monastery. Elder Ambrose remained the principal staretz of Optina for 30 years. Ambrose was visited by countless people, and his love for his fellow man was so strong that he would even see people when he had passed the point of exhaustion being forced to lay down. Even then he would not refuse to listen to people coming to him to seek his counsel. The staretz had the gift of being able to see into men's souls where no secret could hide from him. There is abundant testimony to his clairvoyance. Known for his kindness and compassion no one's question or counsel was refused.

Saint Ambrose founded Shamordino convent in 1884. This convent, which is near Optina, opened its doors to women who were poor, sickly, or even blind. Most convents were very poor and had to rely on the incomes of women who had a certain personal wealth in order to remain open. St Ambrose made it possible for any woman who wished to become a nun. After the death of the first abbess, Mother Sophia, Father Ambrose went there in June 1890 to put the convent's affairs in order. He was unable to return to Optina due to illness, and died in the Shamordino cloister on October 10, 1891, and was buried in the Optina "desert" ("poustin"). His relics were placed in the Vvedensk Monastery.

aint Ambrose in the arts

Dostoevsky stated in Elder Ambrose he had found a living example of the Christian ideal. Elder Nektary of "The Brothers Karamazov" referred to Ambrose as "an earthly angel and a heavenly man." Saint Ambrose was seen more than once surrounded by the uncreated light. This being the definitive sign of transfiguration and citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven to come or paradise much like had been attributed to Saint Seraphim of Sarov.

Ambrose was also a subject in "Velikoe v malom i antikhrist" by Serge Nilus.


*"One should live unhypocriticaly and behave exemplarily then our cause will be right, otherwise it will be bad" (Russian: «Нужно жить нелицемерно и вести себя примерно, тогда дело наше будет верно, а иначе будет скверно»)
*"To live--do not grieve, do not judge anyone, do not vex anyone, and to everyone my regards" («Жить - не тужить, никого не осуждать, никому не досаждать, и всем мое почтение»)
*"From kindness, people see things entirely differently."
*"Do not be greatly disturbed by the arrangement of your fate. Have only the unwavering desire for salvation and, standing before God, await His help until the time comes."


* [ "Ответ благосклонным к Латинской Церкви"]
* [ "Страх Божий"]
* [ "Отечник. Христианский брак"]


ee also

*Seraphim of Sarov
*Optina Monastery

External links

* [ Venerable Ambrose of Optina] Orthodox icon and synaxarion
* [ Optina martyrs: the three monks murdered in 1993]
* [ Optina elders]
* [ Life of the blessed Starets Ambrose of Optina]
* [ Views of the monastery] ru icon

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