Cyril (Pavlov)

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Archimandrite Cyril (Pavlov) (Russian: Кирилл (Павлов)), born as John Dmitrievich Pavlov (Russian: Иван Дмитриевич Павлов), on October 8, 1919, in the village of Makovskie Vyselki of the Riazan' region of Russia, is the brotherhood confessor of the Trinity-Sergius Lavra and one of the most esteemed elders in the Russian Orthodox Church of the late 20th-early 21th century.

Early life and WWII

He was born and raised in a peasant Orthodox family. According to him, "since 12 years of age [I] lived in an atmosphere of unbelief, at my brother's, and lost my spirituality."

His return to spiritual life occurred during World War II. From the very start of the war he participated in military operations as a soldier, an infantry sergeant. The hardest wartime trial for the 22-year-old was the expectation of the Battle of Stalingrad, sitting in a trench, amid snow, almost without water and food, under constant enemy fire for nearly a month. As he recounted:

"...When churches began to be reopened [during WWII], there was such a revival among the people. The people went to churches. After the Battle of Stalingrad, when we arrived to the Tambov forests for recuperation, on one Sunday I went to Tambov. There was only one church opened there. The cathedral was all bare, only walls... And chock-full of people. I was in military uniform, in an overcoat. The priest, Fr. John, who later became Bishop Innocent of Kalinin, said such a moving sermon, that everyone, all the people in the church, - wept aloud."

Then, soon after the liberation of Stalingrad, a decisive event changed in his life. Once, keeping watch amid the ruins, he found a book among the rubbish. It was the Gospel. Thereafter, he recalled that "I went with the Gospel and did not fear... The Lord was close to me, and I feared nothing." With his unit he advanced to Austria, in 1946 was demobilized in Hungary, and arrived in Moscow.

Ecclesiastical service

On arrival to Moscow he presently inquired at the Elokhovo cathedral whether there were any theological schools open, and was sent to the Moscow theological seminary. After graduation he went on to study at the Moscow theological academy. In 1953 or 1954 he received monastic tonsure at the Trinity-Sergius Lavra. On graduation from the academy in 1954 he was already a hieromonk.

Since 1954 he served at the Trinity-Sergius Lavra. First as an altar-server, since 1965 to the present - as the brotherhood confessor, since 1970 - as the treasurer.

Author of many sermons and instructions, he had become a confessor to a multitude of leading figures of the Russian Orthodox Church, including three Patriarchs of Moscow and All Rus' - Alexis I, Poemen and Alexis II. Among his spiritual children is reported Bishop Pancras of Valaam, and it was elder Cyril who is said to have blessed a young American James Paffhausen, the future Metropolitan Jonah, to become a hieromonk in early 1990's. [1]