Science of the Saints, 31 January, Hierarch Nikita of Novgorod


Sainted Nikita, Bishop of Novgorod, in his youth entered the Kievo-Pechersk monastery and soon wished to become a hermit. The hegumen cautioned him that such an exploit for a young monk was premature, but he trusting in his own strength would not take heed.

In the hermitage Saint Nikita fell into temptation. The devil appeared to him in the guise of an angel, and the inexperienced ascetic bowed down to him. The devil gave him advice, as it were to one having attained to perfection: “Bother not to pray, but only read and study other things, and I shall pray in place of thee,” and he stood about the hermit, giving the appearance of seeming to pray for him.

The seduced monk Nikita came to surpass everyone in knowledge of the Books of the Old Testament, but about the Gospel he would not speak, nor wanted to hear it.

The Kievo-Pechersk elders went to the seduced monk, and having prayed, they drove out the devil from him.

After this the Monk Nikita, remaining an hermit with the blessing of the elders, lived in strict fasting and prayer, more than anyone else practising obedience and humility. Through the prayer of the holy elders, the Merciful Lord brought him up from the depths of his fall to an high degree of spiritual perfection.

Afterwards he was made bishop in Novgorod and for his holy life he was rewarded of God with a gift of wonderworking. Once during a time of drought by his prayer he brought down rain from the heavens, and another time by his prayer he stopped a conflagration in the city. Saint Nikita guided the Novgorod flock for thirteen years and he died peacefully in 1109.

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