Elder Leonid of Optina (1768-1841)

Elder Leonid of Optina

Elder Leonid began a long line of eldership in Optina Monastery. He lived on Valaam and later in Svir, learning from his elder Theodore, the Paisian disciple, the joy of obedience and self-accusing humility based on patristic wisdom. Christ endowed him with humor, simplicity and boundless love, which brought flocks of spiritual children to him, to open their hearts and gain real help on the path to salvation. Because of the westernization of Russia in the 18th century, strict adherence to the ancient Orthodox Christian ways was regarded with suspicion. Leonid was persecuted for following the Paisian model, but overcame all difficulties and became a spiritual leader, influencing pre-revolutionary Russia for over a century. Recently canonized as a saint, he is now regarded as a modern-day Church Father, together with the lineage of holy Optina Elders that followed him. The editor of the second edition of the Elder's biography, himself a convert from Lutheranism, Fr. Clement Sederholm, included the letters of Fr. Leonid, which in their tenor are equal to the classics of patristic literature, and undoubtedly will contribute to a future volume of the Little Russian Philokalia.

Text from Valaam Patericon Book of Days
(St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, Platina California)

Back to table of contents.