This famous Russian saint lived in the fourteenth century. He was given the name of Bartholomew when he was baptized. He was not as bright as his two brothers, but he did learn to read and write. This made him very happy because he greatly desired to read the Bible. Bartholomew's parents were nobles. While he was still a boy, the family had to flee from enemies. They had to go to work as peasants. After his parents died, Sergius and his brother Stephen went off to live as hermits. They built a little church from trees they had cut down. The church was dedicated to the Most Holy Trinity.
When his brother went to Moscow to enter a monastery, Bartholomew lived alone. He wore the habit of a monk and took the name Sergius. He was a tall, husky young man. He was strong enough to stand the biting cold and fierce winds of his forest home. He was happy praying to God and loving him with all his heart. He called fire and light his companions, and even made friends with bears.
Before too long, other young men came to share St. Sergius's holy life. They asked him to be their abbot and he did. He was ordained a priest and ruled his monastery very wisely. Once when some of the monks together with his own brother Stephen-who had come back-disagreed with Sergius, he went away so as to keep peace. Four years later, he was asked to return. The monks were so happy to see him that they kissed his hands, his feet and even his robe. Powerful rulers often went to ask St. Sergius for advice. He became so famous that he was asked to become bishop of the greatest Russian diocese. But he was too humble to accept. The prince of Moscow was not sure if he should try to fight the terrible pagan Tartars. St. Sergius said, "Do not fear, sir. Go forward with faith against the foe. God will be with you." And the Russians were victorious.
It was not great learning that made people trust and love St. Sergius. It was his confidence in God and his desire to help everybody. St. Sergius died in 1392.
Let us pray today for the Eastern Churches.