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MOSCOW, August 5. /TASS/. Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Kirill I has expressed condolences to the brotherhood of the St Panteleimonos's Russian monastery on the Holy Mount Athos in Greece over the death of its abbot, schiarchimandrite Jeremiah (Alyokhin) who died at the age of 100 years old, the press service of the Patriarchate said on Thursday.
"Please accept my heart-felt condolences over the death of archimandrite Jeremiah, the abbot of the monastery in the name of the Great Martyr and Faith Healer Panteleimonos," Kirill I said in his message. "Father Jeremiah traversed a long road filled with griefs and hard work, yet he remained a devout servant at the Lord's altar committed to his vocation and a devout monk."
"He kept bearing the burden of the abbot's service for as long as forty years, caring for the spiritual growth of the monastery's brethren," the letter said.
Many good and useful things have been done in the monastery in the past years, the Patriarch indicated. "The ancient traditions of monastic life got stronger; the brethren started hosting numerous pilgrims coming from all corners of the Orthodox Christian world to revere the relics of the Great Martyr Panteleimonos; the buildings of the monastery were renovated and the interior decorations of churches saw restoration," the message said
Moscow Patriarchate said earlier schiarchimandrite Jeremiah would be buried on Friday, August 5.
Father Jeremiah (ne Yakov Filippovich Alyokhin) was born into a Cossack family on the manor of Novo-Russky in the All-Great Host of the Don River Area. After the seizure of state power by the Bolsheviks, his entire family was purged and he was exiled alongside with his parents and relatives to Siberia where his parents died.
He managed to escape from a labor camp and spent several years wandering from one place to another.
Yakov Alyokhin eventually managed to get to his native place, which by that time had become part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, one of the seven constituent republics of the USSR. He took up a stevedore’s job at a steel smelting factory in Mariupol.
When Nazi Germany seized Ukraine in 1941, his life story made a yet another abrupt pivot. The Nazi occupation authorities sent him along with hundreds of thousands of other natives of the occupied territories to Germany for hard manual labor. He remained in the Third Reich until the end of the war.
In 1956, Yakov Alyokhin enrolled for a theological seminary in Odessa, one of the three Russian Orthodox clergy schools functioning amid tidal wave of state-sponsored atheism. He was then accepted as a novice at the Assumption Monastery in Odessa.
In 1960, he learned that a group of monks from the famous Monastery of the Caves in Pechory, Russia’s Pskov region, were to be relocated for service to the St Panteleimonos’s Monastery on the Holy Mountain in Greece, and he filed a request to join them.
A monk’s road to the Holy Mountain from the Soviet Union was long and tedious then and he had to wait for a whole fourteen years before his request was entertained.
The brotherhood of the St Panteleimonos’s Monastery elected him the general confessarius in 1976, a deputy abbot in 1978, and abbot in 1979.
Father Jeremiah hosted the festivities devoted to the millennium of Russian monkhood on the Holy Mountain earlier this year. They were attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Patriarch Kirill I.