John (Alexeev)

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John (Alexeev), elder of Valaam, known in the world as John (Ioann) Alexeevich Alexeev, was a Schema-abbot at the Valaam and New-Valaam monasteries.


John was born in February, 14, 1873 in Tver province of Russia in a family of a peasant. He graduated from the parish school of the village of Il’inskoe.

In 1889 he entered the Valaam Monastery. He spent 4 years in the Skete of Saint Herman of Valaam and then was conscripted into the army for another 4 years. Then he temporary returned home and then, in 1901, again went to Valaam. John was given obedience at the metochion of the Valaam monastery in St. Petersburg where he spent 2 years. He wrote later, that the city had a bad influence on him and he, weak in spirit, could not accommodate the urban bustle.

In 1906 John was enlisted as a novice of the Valaam monastery and on May, 22, 1910 he was tonsured a monk with the name of Hyacinth.

After repeated petitions, Hyacinth was returned to the monastery and was living in St. Elias’ Skete and later in the Skete of St. John the Baptist.

On October 19, 1921 he was made an abbot of St. Tryphon of Pechenga monastery. Then on November, 13, he was ordained hierodeacon and November, 15 – hieromonk. At that time, the monastery was on the territory of Finland.

In 1932 Hyacinth returned to Valaam and in 1933 he was tonsured in Great Schema with the name of John and started to live in seclusion in the Skete of St. John the Baptist. In 1938 he was elected as a spiritual farther of the monastery.

In 1940 Fr. John was evacuated with other brethren to Finland.

Father John carried on an extensive correspondence. Among his spiritual children were people both with higher education and simple, uneducated. In the 1950s, some of his letters were published in the journal "Aamun Koitto", translated into Finnish by the chief editor Hieromonk Paul, so the readers got acquainted with the teachings of the elder and his advices. In 1956, a small collection of letters was published in Helsinki in Russian. Subsequently, the letters were reprinted several times in Finland, in 1984, 1990. The book was translated into English and Serbian. Many times the letters were published in Russia.

The elder reposed on June 5, 1958, in the New-Valaam Monastery in Finland.