The Venerable Alexander Svirsky (1448 – 1533) was the founder of the Holy Trinity Alexander Svirsky Monastery. He was famous for his austere pious life and many lifetime and posthumous miracles.

The accounts of the Venerable Alexander Svirsky’s life survived in his hagiography, compiled by Herodion Kochnev, the abbot of the Holy Trinity Alexander Svirsky Monastery. The hagiography was written twelve years after the saint’s death (ca. 1545 года), based on first-hand accounts of his life. Besides, Alexander Svirsky is mentioned in 16th century chronicles and documentary sources.

According to his Life, the Venerable Alexander was born into the family of pious Christians, Stephan and Vassa. The boy was given the name Amos at birth. As a young man, Amos secretly left his family and headed for the St. Valaam Monastery where he was tonsured at the age of 26. When his parents died, the Venerable Alexander came back to his native village and founded a hermitage near the river Svir. The saint had a vision of the Holy Trinity in the form of three angels and the Mother of God with the Infant Christ upon her arms.

The Venerable Alexander passed away on April 17 (O.S.) 1553 and came to be venerated soon after his death. The Venerable Alexander Svirsky was canonized by the local Council of the Russian Church in 1547.

Alexander Svirsky is depicted on icons as a middle-aged man or an old man with short hair and a small round beard, wearing clerical attire, his right hand is raised in a blessing gesture, in his left hand he holds a scroll. The earliest surviving image of the saint is The Venerable Alexander Svirsky with scenes from his life and miracles dated 1547 – 1554, now located in the Moscow Kremlin Museum. The figure of the saint is commonly depicted either frontally, or facing the Savior in a devotional pose in the upper margin of the icon, such as a 16th century icon from the Andrei Rublev Museum.

Alexander Svirsky is commemorated on April 30 (April 30, O.S.) and September 12 (August 30, O.S.).

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.


1. Архимандрит Макарий (Веретенников), Журавлева И.А., Полякова О.А. Александр Свирский // Православная энциклопедия. Том I. М., 2000. С. 536–539.

2. Иеродиакон Анфим, Соловьёва И.Д. Александров Свирский в честь Святой Троицы мужской монастырь // Православная энциклопедия. Том I. М., 2000. С. 608–610.

3. Соловьева И.Д. Житийные иконы преподобного Александра Свирского: агиографические источники и анализ иконографии // Древняя Русь. Вопросы медиевистики. 2002. № 1 (7). С. 73–81.

4. Яхонтов И.К. Жития святых северорусских подвижников Поморского края как исторический источник: составлено по рукописям Соловецкой библиотеки. Казань, 1881. С. 37–87.

5. Журавлева И.А. Образ Александра Свирского с житием и чудесами из Успенского собора Московского Кремля // Русская художественная культура ХV – ХVI веков. М., 1998. С. 118–144.