Theophan the Recluse

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Theophan the Recluse
Saint Theophan the Recluse.jpg
Born(1815-01-10)January 10, 1815
Chernavsk, Oryol Governorate, Russian Empire
DiedJanuary 6, 1894(1894-01-06) (aged 78)
Vysha Monastery, Russian Empire
Venerated inEastern Orthodox Church
Canonized6 June 1988, Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius by 1988 Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church, (Patriarch Pimen I of Moscow)
Feast29 June
19 January
23 January[1]

Theophan the Recluse, also known as Theophan Zatvornik or Theophanes the Recluse (Russian: Святитель Феофан Затворник Вышенский, епископ Тамбовский;[2] January 10, 1815 – January 6, 1894), is a well-known saint in the Russian Orthodox Church.

Early life[edit]

Theophan the Recluse, also known as Theophan Zatvornik or Theophanes the Recluse or (in the Library of Congress Name Authority File, and therefore in many library catalogs) as "Ḟeofan, Saint, Bishop of Tambov and Shatsk, 1815–1894", was born on January 10, 1815 as Georgy Vasilievich Govorov (Георгий Васильевич Говоров), in the village of Chernavsk, in the Oryol Governorate of the Russian Empire. His father was a Russian Orthodox priest. He was educated in the seminaries at Livny, Oryol and Kyiv.


In 1841 he was ordained, became a monk, and adopted the name Theophan. He later became the Bishop of Tambov.

He is especially well-known today through the many books he wrote concerning the spiritual life, especially on the subjects of the Christian life and the training of youth in the faith. He also played an important role in translating the Philokalia from Church Slavonic into Russian. The Philokalia is a classic of orthodox spirituality, composed of the collected works of a number of church fathers which were edited and placed in a four volume set in the 17th and 18th centuries. A persistent theme is developing an interior life of continuous prayer,[3] learning to "pray without ceasing" as St. Paul teaches in his first letter to the Thessalonians.


He died on January 6, 1894 and lay in state for three days in his church. Even after that length of time there was no sign of decay in his unembalmed body. Theophan the Recluse was buried in the Kazan church of the Vysha Monastery.[4]

The Spiritual Life and How to Be Attuned To It[edit]

The Spiritual Life and How to Be Attuned To It was originally written in response to Theophan's encounter with a young woman. While at a ball, this upper class Moscow woman began having irrational thoughts about the meaning of life and the immortality of man. After contacting Theophan, the two began corresponding through letters, the lady writing on her spiritual difficulties and Theophan responding with spiritual advice. This correspondence had a significant impact on the woman; she later became a nun.[5] The Saint Herman Press, the publisher of the illustrated edition of The Spiritual Life and How to Be Attuned to It, notes that it was of great importance to Theophan that the young woman should "be able to keenly hear the right 'tone' of spiritual life".[6]

Veneration as a saint[edit]

Theophan was canonized by the Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church of 1988. The act of canonization declared that his "deep theological understanding of the Christian teaching, as well as its performance in practice, and, as a consequence of this, the loftiness and holiness of the life of the sviatitel' allow for his writings to be regarded as a development of the teaching of the Holy Fathers, preserving the same Orthodox purity and Divine enlightenment." His feast day is celebrated January 6 or January 10.


  • "He who believes in God, but does not confess Him as the Father of the Son, does not believe in a god that is the true God, but in some personal invention."[7]
  • "You ask, will the heterodox be saved... Why do you worry about them? They have a Saviour Who desires the salvation of every human being. He will take care of them. You and I should not be burdened with such a concern. Study yourself and your own sins... I will tell you one thing, however: should you, being Orthodox and possessing the Truth in its fullness, betray Orthodoxy, and enter a different faith, you will lose your soul forever."[8]
  • "Where there is no prayer and fasting there are the demons."

Books in English translation[edit]

  • Theophan the Recluse (1995). The Spiritual Life and How to Be Attuned To It. St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood. ISBN 9780938635369.}.
  • Theofan the Recluse. The Path to Salvation: A Manual of Spiritual Transformation. Holy Trinity Orthodox School. Retrieved 1 February 2017.
  • Turning the Heart to God (Partial translation of The Path to Salvation)
  • Theophan the Recluse (1994). Kindling the divine spark : teachings on how to preserve spiritual zeal. St. Xenia Skete Press. ISBN 9780938635444.}.
  • Theophan the Recluse. Four Homilies on Prayer. Retrieved 1 February 2017.
  • Theophan the Recluse. Psalm 118: A Commentary by Saint Theophan the Recluse. ISBN 978-1-928920-87-8.}
  • Theophan the Recluse (1992). Amis, Robin; Williams, Esther (eds.). The Heart of Salvation: The Life and Teachings of Russia's Saint Theophian the Recluse. Praxis Institute. ISBN 978-1872292021.
  • Theophan the Recluse (1989). Raising Them Right: A Saint's Advice on Raising Children. Conciliar Press. ISBN 0-9622713-0-6.}. This book consists of excerpts from his "The Path of Salvation"

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Святитель Феофа́н Затворник Вышенский, епископ Тамбовский". (in Russian). Retrieved 2021-05-04.
  2. ^ "Святитель Феофа́н Затворник Вышенский, епископ Тамбовский". (in Russian). Retrieved 2021-05-04.
  3. ^ A Prayer Rule by St. Theophan the Recluse
  4. ^ "St Theophan the Recluse: The Bishop of Tambov biography (Orthodox Church in America website)".
  5. ^ "Spiritual Life - And How to be Attuned to it". Writings of St. Theophan the Recluse. Retrieved 20 November 2012.
  6. ^ The Spiritual Life: And How to be Attuned to it. 1995. ISBN 0938635360.
  7. ^ Thoughts for Each Day of the Year according to the Daily Church Readings from the Word of God By St. Theophan the Recluse
  8. ^ "Will the Heterodox Be Saved". Retrieved 5 January 2014.

External links[edit]