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Motives for Donations to the Trinity-Sergius Monastery, 1392-1605: Gender Matters

Motives for Donations to the Trinity-Sergius Monastery, 1392-1605: Gender Matters

Miller, David B.

Abstract

In the 1350s Sergius of Radonezh founded a hermitage eighty kilometers northeast of Moscow. By the mid-1370s, having attracted many disciples, Sergius instituted a rule of common life and dedicated the monastery to the veneration of the Trinity. When he died in 1392, he was famous throughout Rus’. In 1422 Abbot Nikon and the monks of Trinity testified to the miraculous powers of Sergius’s relics and began to celebrate his sanctity. The earliest records of memorial donations by Muscovy’s landed elite to Trinity and other cult centers are coincident with these events. About 1448 the Russian Orthodox Church recognized Sergius as a saint, most notably because he was said to have solicited the intervention of the Mother of God to bring victory over the Mongols in 1380. In the 1400s the Trinity-Sergius Monastery became the foremost cult center in the expanding Muscovite state, and its monks figured prominently in the great wave of rural monastic foundings in Muscovy. In the 1500s Russia’s rulers and their wives made regular pilgrimages to Trinity, and monastic scribes recorded subsidies from important families to underwrite feasts and celebrations.

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