Orthodox America

A Catacomb Elder - Elder Feodosiy

In our last issue, we printed several incidents from the childhood of Igumen Feodosiy. We have since obtained additional biographical information about this extraordinary elder, which should be of interest to our readers.

The blessed Elder Feodosiy (Kashkin) was an ascetic greatly revered by the Catacomb Church. He possessed the gifts of wonderworking and of discernment, and he knew fourteen languages. He was granted a long life, living to be well over a hundred (by some accounts, he died at the age of 148).

Born in Imperial Russia, he was still a youth when he went to Mount Athos and entered upon the monastic path. He was ordained to the priesthood and served for many years in Jerusalem before returning to Russia, to the Stavropol region, where he became the spiritual father of a women's skete. Just as he had foretold to his nuns, he was arrested on Great Friday, 1925, and sent to the far north. When he returned to the Caucasus in the early 30s, he took upon himself the podvig of foolishness-for-Christ's-sake in order to be free to give people spiritual guidance while avoiding confrontation with the Sergianists and remaining faithful to the legacy of Patriarch Tikhon. (In 1927, Metropolitan Sergius had signed his infamous Declaration bonding the Orthodox Church to the interests of the Soviet State.) He served and received his spiritual children secretly; only a handful of people knew that he was a priest. The elder permitted his spiritual children to go occasionally to the Sergianist churches - there were icons and other sacred objects there, after all - but he did not allow them to commune there or to take a blessing from a Sergianist priest. When asked who would serve his funeral, he simply replied that the Lord would send someone. And indeed, at the time of his death, in 1948, a wanderer with an angelic countenance appeared. He buried the elder and departed, as mysteriously as he had come.

The elder's grave in Minvoda is frequented by pilgrims, not only Catacomb Christians but many simple people who have received divine aid by his prayers. At the request of the faithful, Elder Feodosiy was locally glorified by the Moscow Patriarchate in 1995. He is commemorated on the day of his repose, August 8 (OS).