St. Dimitri of Priluki (the first half of the 14th century – 1406(?)) was the founder of St. Nicholas cenobitic Monastery on the Morass in Pereslavl Zalessky and the Monastery of St. Dimitri of Priluki in Honor of the Procession of the Precious Wood of the Life-giving Cross of the Lord (Spaso-Prilutski Monastery) near Vologda was famous for austere righteous life and many miracles.
The accounts of St. Dimitri of Priluki’s life is contained in his hagiography dating back to the second half of the 15th century. According to legend recorded in the early 20th century by local historian M.I.Smirnov, St. Dimitri was born in the village of Veslevo, a few miles from Pereslavl-Zalessky. He was born into the peasant family of the Prokopaevs. His father, a merchant, made a good fortune and moved with his family to Pereslavl-Zalessky. He was tonsured a monk at the Ascension Monastery in Goritsy in the vicinity of Pereslavl-Zalessky and was ordained hegumen.
After a while the venerable Dimitri left the Goritsky Monastery. He built the Church in honor of St. Nicholas the Wonderworder near Pereslavl and founded a new monastery. Under the influence of Sergius of Radonezh he introduced the cenobitic charter in the monastery. In 1354 Dimitri of Priluki met Sergius of Radonezh who had come to Pereyaslavl to visit Bishop Athanasius. Athanasius run metropolia in the absence of the holy hierarch Alexis who had been sent to Constantinople to be ordained metropolitan. St. Dimitri was particularly respected by Grand Prince Dimitri Donskoy who had one of his son baptized by the saint.
In search of seclusion, the venerable Dimitri and his disciple Pachomius left Pereslavl for the North of Russsia. In the Avnezh region, near the influx of rivers Velikaya and Lezha, 40 km from Vologda (today’s village of Voskresenskoe, Gryazovetsky district, the Vologda region) they erected the Church of the Resurrection of Christ. But the villagers, fearing that the monastery can confiscate their lands, drove the monks away. Dimitri and Pachomius headed for Vologda. Not far from the city, at the curve of the river Vologda, on the land donated by the local citizens Ilia and Isidor nicknamed Vypryag, they founded a monastery which is believed to have been built between 1378 and 1382. The venerable Dimitri introduced a monastic rule in the monastery. The wooden church of the Procession of the Precious Wood of the Life-giving Cross of the Lord was built at the monastery.
St. Dimitri of Priluki in Honor of the Procession of the Precious Wood of the Life-giving Cross of the Lord (Spaso-Prilutski Monastery)
The saint became famous for many miracles by healing people through his prayer and having the gift of foresight.
Saint Dimitri lived to the old age. He foretold the date of his death. His hagiography reports that after the saint’s death the air in the monastery filled with sweet smell. Dimitri of Priluki was buried in the monastery, at the stone church of the Savior, under a stone crypt, his relics remain there to this day. The saint became famous for many posthumous miracles and was venerated as the patron of Vologda.
Dimitri of Priluki is commonly depicted as an old man with grey hair and a small grizzly beard, wearing monastic clothes and holding a scroll. As early as the first half of the 15th century there was a tomb icon of the saint, possibly made by the venerable Dyonisius Glushitsky who had seen the saint in his lifetime. One of the earliest surviving depictions of Dimitri of Priluki is a 1503 icon of The Venerable Dimitri of Priluki with 16 border scenes produced by Dyonisius’s icon workshop from the Vologda Museum collection. In the 16th – 17th centuries the icon of Dimitri of Priluki was included in the Dessis row of the iconostasis. One such example is a 17th century icon of The Venerable Dimitri of Priluki from the Vologda Museum collection that had been formerly placed on the Deesis tier at the Church of St. George the Victorious in Vologda. Apart from the individual images of the saint there are icons featuring Dimitri and Ignacius of Priluki. Some icons show the saints holding the Spaso-Prilutski (the Savior of Prilutsk) Monastery such as the icon Sts. Dimitri and Ignacius of Priluki with 20 border scenes of the first half of the 18th century from the Vologda Museum collection. As the holy patron of Vologda, venerable Dimitri was also depicted kneeling in prayer before the Savior’s feet. Such images of the saint are encountered in one of the iconographic variants The Savior of Smolensk and in an icon depicting him among selected saints.
Dimitri of Priluki is commemorated on February 24 (February 11, O.S.) in the third week after the Penecos in the Synaxis of the Vologda saints, July 19 (July 6, O.S.) in the Synaxis of the Radonezh saints, June 5 (May 23, O.S.) in the Synaxis of the Rostov and Yaroslavl saints.
Zhanna G. Belik,
Ph.D. in Art history, senior research fellow at the Andrei Rublyov Museum, custodian of the tempera painting collection.
Olga E. Savchenko,
research fellow at the Andrei Rublyov Museum.
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