Senior monk dies in pandemic on 76th birthday


Credo.Press, 11 May 2020


Yet another elderly resident of the Saint Sergius Holy Trinity lavra of the RPTsMP, Archimandrite Ilian, has died from the coronavirus infection. This was reported to a correspondent for the Credo.Press portal by Father Ilian's spiritual children. They were unable to provide documentary confirmation of this fact, so the information is of a preliminary nature.


It was reported on the website of the Moscow patriarchate that in Holy Week of 2014, Patriarch Kirill elevated Father Ilian to the rank of archimandrite. His biography has not been published on official church websites.


Commenting on the death of Fr Ilian from coronavirus, his spiritual children called attention to the widespread nature of the infection of priests and monks of the RPTsMP from this disease, but they are still inclined to associate it with "external" causes, principally with "machinations of enemies of the church."


Earlier, our portal reported that in the period since 1 May, Archimandrite Nikodim, Hegumen Ignaty, Hegumen Tikhon, Monastic Deacon Kallist, and Archimandrite Lavrenty have died in the Holy Trinity lavra. In the case of only two of them has the diagnosis of "coronavirus" been officially established, although it is presumed that all of the deceased were infected with it, but some of them had other serious illnesses, including cancer.


According to information as of 1 May, symptoms of coronavirus infection have been manifested in 150 of the approximately 170 residents of the lavra, many of whom are in extremely serious condition. Until recently, the personnel of the medical facility of the lavra worked with coronavirus patients without protective equipment, which led to the rapid spread of the virus. (tr. by PDS, posted 11 May 2020)



Website of Saint Sergius Holy Trinity lavra, 11 May 2020


Archimandrite Ilian (secular name, Nikolai Nikolaevich Plemeniuk) was born 10 May 1944 in the city of Viazemsky, in Khabarovsk territory. When Nikolai was six years old, his parents, in complete secrecy, summoned to the home a priest, who baptized the child. In 1965, at the age of 21, he was drafted into the ranks of the Soviet Army.


In 1972, Nikolai visited the Saint Sergius Holy Trinity lavra for the first time. Like the sainted Abbot Sergius, he was "stung by love for Christ," and unable to bear any more worldly fuss he wished to retire to Sergius' cloister. Nikolai remained as an employee of the monastery. After two years of his labor, he successfully passed the entrance exams for the Moscow Ecclesiastical Seminary.


While Nikolai was a second-year student at the Moscow Ecclesiastical Seminary, the abbot of the lavra, Archimandrite Ieronim, tonsured him a monk in the Trinity cathedral, with the name of Ilian, in honor of the martyr Ilian, one of the 40 martyrs of Sebaste [A.D. 320].


On 8 August 1976, Archbishop of Dmitrov Vladimir ordained the monk Ilian a monastic deacon, in the church of the Protection in the Moscow Ecclesiastical Academy. Two years later, on 5 May 1978, on Good Friday, Vladyka Vladimir consecrated Monastic Deacon Ilian a hieromonk.


In 1987, His Holiness Patriarch Pimen promoted the batushka to the rank of hegumen.


Father Ilian's first assignments in the lavra were performed in the icon store, behind the candle box, and in the Trinity cathedral. When the work was begun for restoration of the lavra's skete of the Protection in the village of Saburovo, Hegumen Ilian was blessed to fulfill an assignment in the newly formed skete.


In 2004, His Holiness Patriarch Alexis II, in consideration for his labors to the benefit of the sacred cloister, awarded Hegumen Ilian a patriarchal commendation.


Batushka tried to perform unstintingly all assignments entrusted to him. For a long time, Father Ilian's principal assignment was commemorating the synodics and notes in the cavities of the prosphora. Each day the batushka entered the chapel of the holy great martyr Irina and commemorated at the throne of God the names of the living and the dead.


In Holy Week of 2014, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill promoted Hegumen Ilian to the rank of archimandrite. In the same year, in consideration of his labors for the good of the holy church, and in connection with the 700th anniversary of the birthday of Saint Sergius, by order of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill Archimandrite Ilian was awarded the patriarchal emblem "700th anniversary of Saint Sergius of Radonezh."


The name Ilian is derived from the Greek adjective "sunny," and this name applied to Fr Ilian like none other. The batushka was a sincere, noble, joyous, and judicious man. He illuminated everybody who came to him for help with warm rays emanating from his loving heart. All his life, Archimandrite Ilian pointed to the necessity for us, who are seeking Christ, to conquer the cold of temptations and to warm the spirit from the sinful cold, and, most importantly, to console the souls of our neighbors with internal light, the light that he received from the source of light, God.


Like the holy martyr, in honor of whom he received his name during tonsuring, he suffered for Christ, mortifying his flesh by fasting and prayer. Instead of the cold of Lake Sebaste, he perceived the cold of numerous temptations sent by the enemy of the human race, who tries to turn everybody from the path leading to Christ. Like the martyr, he bore all temptations confidently and steadfastly, without deviating from devout faith in Jesus Christ.


Over the course of many years, from the day of his becoming a clergyman, Fr Ilian fulfilled his assigned duties with amazing modesty, about which we were told by the loving brotherhood, which received with great sorrow the news about the loss of the great candlestick, like the sun in every way. Like Saint Sergius, in whose cloister the memorable archimandrite spent his long life, he shone "like the bright sun" by his amazing modesty, kindness, and a life filled with virtue.


The brothers of the monastery, recalling the residence of Father Ilian in the lavra, note that there was not a single day when the batushka would arrive late for the liturgy. On a day when he had some assignment, he arrived at the appointed place long before the designated time, always recalling the words of Christ: "be alert, because you do not know either the day or hour in which the Son of Man will come" (Mt. 25.13).


Alert in spirit, but weakened by the incapacity of the body, he accepted a blessed death on 11 May 2020 from complications caused by the coronavirus infection.


Preserving in memory the good achievement of Father Ilian, let us pray to the Almighty Lord that he will give rest to his servant in the heavenly kingdom, where the light of Christ shines in full measure in his god-like soul. (tr. by PDS, posted 11 May 2020)

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