Saint Paphnutius of Borovsk
Religious Fables, Folklore, Legends, and Stories
From All Creatures Articles Archive

Submitted by: Yuri Klitsenko

In 2005 I was nearly persuaded by some English Christians that my ideas about hares are symptom of my mental problems. So I was pleased to discover that my hares idea have been developed by "Khalkidon" web-site (Khalkidon is the place of the 4th Ecumenical Council, which is specially important for the Orthodox Church) and some others.


They write that former pagans who accepted Christianity kept ancient superstitions about demonic nature of some animals. That is why Venerable Paphnutius of Borovsk, Russian saint of Tatar-Mongol origin, took under his protection ravens and punished those who used to kill ravens. Some Russians still have tradition of killing ravens and crows which are "bad omen".

Saint Paphnutius of Borovsk was born in 1394 in the village of Kudinovo, not far from Borovsk. His father John was the son of a baptized Tatar-Mongol, a "baskak" ("tax-collector"). The monastery of Saint Paphnutius was surrounded by dense wood in which many birds lived. Black ravens made nests near the monastery. Looking at ravens, Paphnutius of Borovsk rejoiced and asked people not to kill ravens. Meanwhile once the son of city governor passed by a monastery and, seeing ravens, killed one of them. The young man was delighted, but soon felt that his head turned aside, remained motionless in such unnatural position. The grief and horror replaced fun. Saint Paphnutius explained him: "God has revenged blood of raven". Other young man sent a hawk against ravens. But a hawk, having killed a raven, itself has fallen dead. Thus, the hunter has lost the entertainment.

As I expected Russian people got interested in Saint Melangell.

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