Wonderful Friendship
Religious Fables, Folklore, Legends, and Stories
From All Creatures Articles Archive

Submitted by: Yuri Klitsenko

Christians of Egypt and Palestine left for deserts to get away from temporal vanity, while Russian saints built their cells in dense woods. And not lions and crocodiles, but wolves and bears came to visit them.

In the 14th century there lived St. Sergius of Radonezh – a godly man of faith. A small cell in a wood had been his lonely dwelling for a long time. The wood was full of beasts and birds. All of them grew fond of the saint and came to visit him frequently. Then wolf would run over on a garden where the elder worked; then a family of wild boars would come over.

Once St. Sergius met a big bear right in front of his hut. It was hungry. Sergius felt sorry for the beast and gave him his meal - a piece of bread. Since then the bear became attached to the saint. Every day he came to his cell and was treated with bread, which the elder left for him on a stump. The saint shared his bread with the beast even when there was very little left. If St. Sergius prayed, the bear waited long-sufferingly, when he stopped, he treated his friend.

Another Russian saint, Seraphim of Sarov, also lived in a wood for a long time. He called the clearing where he put his cell “a small hermitage”, in the memory of ascetics who lived in desert.

Yuri Klitsenko is a Russian living in Moscow.  He works for the Russian Orthodox Church.

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