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Sunday, July 19, A.D. 2009
Monk and Wolf

On the Deconstruct website, I found a story about a young Serbian monk who provides pastoral assistance to scattered villages in the Serbian countryside. People from these villages bring him orphaned wild animals, and the monk has accepted this rather unusual ministry in addition to his regular duties.

The connection between monks and wild animals goes back to the early centuries of Christian monasticism—and even earlier. Consider the prophet Elijah and his relations to animals. Biblical stories and Christian history are full of examples where the normal separation between man and beast is interrupted; therein, one sees an image of Adam in paradise, keeper of the kingdom.

Even if you do not understand Serbian, you can more or less follow the news story about the monk.

Part I:

Part II:

I also found a relevant article on the relationship between the saints and the animals on the website of the Pantocrator Monastery in Thessaloniki, Greece. The awkwardly translated article offers the following story about Saint Paul of Obnaras:

As a crowning over all the wonderful cases in the relations of the Saints with animals, it is perhaps worth mentioning the description from the “Thebaid of the North.” Someone visited Saint Paul of Obnaras who lived in a remote area of the Russian forests. When he saw him he became witness to the following: “A great number of birds surrounded the Saint. The smaller ones even climbed in his shoulders and head and he would feed them with his hands. Close to him was a bear that waited to be fed. Foxes, hares and other animals would mingle without any aggression between them. It was a wonderful picture of the first created innocent Adam in the garden of Eden.

Solitude in a forest may not be paradise, but I can imagine therein a monk’s glimpse of the world unfallen. Are we not all called to see such?

Posted by Joseph on Sunday, July 19, A.D. 2009
Religion | OrthodoxyPermalink
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