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Saint Procopius of Ustyug

On July 21st (the 8th by the old calendar) the Church commemorates the blessed fool-for-Christ, Saint Procopius of Ustyug.

St. Procopius was a German from the city of Lubeck and engaged in trade with the city of Great Novgorod.  With a group of German merchants he came to Novgorod, where he became acquainted with Christian life and teaching, and decided to become a Christian.  He was baptized by the famous ascetic, abbot Varlaam of the Hutyn monastery.  Transformed by the spirit of the Gospel, St. Procopius gave away all his belongings to the poor and became a fool-for-Christ.  As the dwelling place for his spiritual labors he chose the city of Great Ustyug.  For days he wandered through the city without eating any food, dressed in tatters, suffering hunger, cold and need, jeering and mockery.  The nights he spent in tearful prayer for the inhabitants of the city, whom he aided by his fervent prayer, delivered from misfortune, and protected from disaster.  For his spiritual labors the Lord rewarded the blessed saint with the gifts of clairvoyance and miracle-working: for example, to the 3-year-old girl Maria he prophesied that she would become the mother of the future hierarch, Saint Stephen of Perm, the enlightener of the Zyryans, who were still pagan at that time.

Not long before his death, St. Procopius began urging the people to repent.  The people listened to him and rectified their lives.  Soon afterwards, sinister black clouds gathered above the city.  The terrified people crowded into the cathedral.  The blessed Procopius stood there before the greatly-venerated icon of the Ustyug Mother of God.  Tears streamed down his face.  Suddenly, in response to his prayer, myrrh issued from the icon.  All the faithful calmed down.  At that moment the terrible cloud slowly passed over the city and, in a deserted place 13 miles away, burst into a thick hail of stones.  The city remained unharmed.  St. Procopius died peacefully on July 8, 1303; his incorruptible relics work numerous miracles.

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