In 1873 Ivan Alekseyevich
Alekseyev was born to a good peasant couple living in a Tver village north of
Moscow. After a simple education learned from visitors to his home, the young
Ivan began searching for a monastery in which to live a life dedicated to God.
At sixteen he entered Valamo Monastery. After four years at Valamo he had to
leave to fulfil 'his four years' term of military service in a rifle battalion.
He then lived again with his family for a couple of years before returning to
Valamo Monastery in 1900. Seven years later he became a member of the
brotherhood; in 1910 he was accepted as a monk, being given the name Yakinf
(Hyacynthos - the Greek martyr). During the next eleven years he served in
various capacities at the main monastery at Valamo, in the hermitages of the
prophet Elijah and of St Herman as well as in Valamo's filial monastery in
In 1921 within a period of two weeks, monk Yakinf was ordained
monk-deacon, then priest-monk, and sent to serve as Superior at St Tryphon
Monastery in Petsamo on the Arctic coast. Eleven years later, at his own
returned to Valamo to head a small monastic community living on
John the Baptist island. There he was consecrated to the great schema and
was named John.
In 1938, on the eve of the Finnish-Russian winter
war, schema-monk John was chosen by the monks to be their Father
Confessor. During the war the famous old monastery at Valamo had to be hastily
abandoned. The monks established a modest New Valamo at Heinavesi in Finland
where schema-monk John lived until he died peacefully in his cell in 1958.
New Valamo still has a few Russian monks living in it but is now becoming a
(Based on an introduction by Tito Colliander to
the Finnish translation published by Werner Soderstrom in 1976.) "
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