Pitirim of Perm

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Saint Pitirim, Bishop of Great Perm, (Vytchegda) was chosen and consecrated to the See of Perm after the suffering and death of St Gerasimus of Perm (d. January 24 1441). Before becoming bishop, Archimandrite Pitirim was head of the Chudov monastery. He later became known as the composer of the Canon to St Alexis, Metropolitan of Moscow (February 12), and also wrote his Life. He is commemorated by the Church August 19.

As bishop, St Pitirim first occupied himself with establishing friendly relations between the Zyryani and Voguli peoples. He circulated admonitory letters and messages, seeking to defend the Zyryani from pillage. The Voguli leader Asyka however, taking advantage of princely dissention and the remoteness of the bishop from the capital, plundered Christian settlements and killed defenseless people.

Novgorod landowners held lands at the Rivers Vyg and Dvina, suffering death from the constant pillaging. In the year 1445, they marched out against the Voguli and took Asyka captive. The crafty pagan swore friendship to Perm and vowed to harass Christians no longer. Set free, Asyka waited for a convenient moment to attack Ust'-Vym with the aim of killing St Pitirim, to whom he attributed his defeat by the Novgorodians.

During this time St Pitirim was twice in Moscow: in 1447 to address an encyclical to Prince Demetrius Shemyaka, having broken a treaty (it is supposed that the writer was St Pitirim); and again in the year 1448 for the consecration of St Jonah, Metropolitan of Moscow (March 31). Taking advantage of St Pitirim's absence, Asyka again made an attack on a Zyryani settlement near the Pechora, robbing and killing the inhabitants. Not only the Zyryani, but also the Voguli living their nomadic life near the Pechora tributary, had become convinced of the truth of the preachings of St Pitirim, and they had begun to accept Baptism.

Embittered by this, Asyka committed a new crime. On August 19, 1456 he murdered St Pitirim, when he was out blessing the waters at the point of land formed by the confluence of the Rivers Vaga and Vychegda. The body of the saint remained for 40 days in a grave at the place of his death (since they awaited an answer to the sad news of his death). In spite of the hot weather, decay did not touch him. The saint was buried in the Ust'-Vym cathedral church of the Annunciation next to his predecessor St Gerasimus. The memory of his repose was already entered into a typikon in the year 1522. In the year 1607 the joint commemoration of the three Great Perm holy Hierarchs: Gerasimus, Pitirim and Jonah, was established (January 29). They succeeded one another at the Ust'-Vym cathedral.

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