Tychon the Athonite

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Elder Tychon was an elder who lived an ascetic and solitary life on Mount Athos.

Biographical timeline

  • 1884 - Timothy was born to Paul and Helen in Novaya Mikhalovka, a God-fearing couple. Timothy wanted to devote himself to God from his childhood.
  • 1901 - Timothy asked for a blessing to enter a monastery; his parents did not give him one, because he was young and lively. However, Paul and Helen gave their blessing for Timothy to visit monasteries for three years.
Timothy passed through two hundred monasteries in this time, all of them on foot.
In one of the provinces, the people ate rye bread, which Timothy could not stomach because he was used to white bread. Having asked at bakeries, he finally asked the Mother of God for intercessions, and she appeared to him and gave him a loaf of bread. Uncomprehending, and thinking that must have been the baker's daughter, he went back to a bakery and was told that the baker didn't have a wife or daughter. Later, when a monk showed Timothy a book of Russian wonder-working icons, he recognised the one who gave him the bread.
  • ~1904 - Having visited Russian monasteries, he then went to Mount Sinai as an ascetic for two months. He found no rest from secularization there, and went to Mt. Athos. He went first to Bourazeri.
  • 1909 - Fr. Tychon found no peace at Bourazeri because of many Russian pilgrims. He went to Karoulia. He lived there as an ascetic for fifteen years.
  • 1924 - Fr. Tychon moved to Kapsala, which is at the southernmost tip of Mt. Athos (above Kaliagra), to a cell belonging to Stavronikita Monastery to look after an ailing elder. When the elder died, Fr. Tychon stayed there alone.
Many people flocked to Fr. Tychon because of his holiness. Some asked him to be ordained, so that he could be a confessor. Fr. Tychon submitted to their need, and was ordained.
There was no chapel connected to his cell. Fr. Tychon did not have money, but trusted in God. He prayed, then went to Karyes. The administrator of a Russian skete by the name of Prophet Elijah Skete saw Fr. Tychon and told him that a Christian in America had donated money for someone to build a chapel, and the administrator gave this to Fr. Tychon.
Two monks who were builders built the chapel, which Elder Tychon dedicated to the Precious Cross. This was done both because the elder held the Cross in great veneration and because the day would be a fasting day.
Elder Tychon lived alone and in utter poverty, but felt himself to live with the angels, saints, the Mother of God and Christ. The floor of his cell was made with planks, but due to a lack of cleaning, over the years mud that the Elder brought in, combined with hairs from his beard, formed an effective plaster.
As Elder Tychon got older, he used a thick rope to help himself up after prostrations.
Elder Tychon continued his rule of eating only dry or raw food (xerophagy) into old age, considering cooking time wasted for monks. He would observe great feasts by dipping the bones of fish into water, so that it would take on the smell of fish, and add some rice. If he was given food, he would send it to the elders at Kapsala.
All that Elder Tychon wanted for a year was provided for with one piece of handiwork - every year, he would paint a winding sheet (epitaphios), which would earn him 500-600 drachmas and would last a year. If he was sent money, it was given to a grocer to buy loaves to distribute to the poor.
On one occaision, an American sent Elder Tychon a cheque. A layman saw him take this cheque from the post office and was overcome with avarice. The layman went to the elder's cell at night to rob him, unaware that not only had the elder given the money to Thodoros the grocer, but also had no other money in his cell. After tying up the elder (including a rope around the neck) in an attempt to force the elder to tell him where the money was, and finally realising that the money was nowhere to be found, he left. Elder Tychon said, "God forgive you, my child". The thief went to another elder with the same intent, but the police caught him and he confessed. A policeman was sent to Elder Tychon as part of the investigation, but the elder refused to take part, saying that he had forgiven the thief. Having taken him to Hierissos, continued questioning of the elder proved unfruitful because the elder had completely forgiven the thief. Because of his profuse tears at the thought that he would be to blame for the thief being punished, the elder was taken back to his cell. He would sometimes recount the story in bewilderment that laypeople in the world had no concept of forgiveness.
When Elder Tychon served Divine Liturgy, he would ask the monk who chanted to stand in the corridor just outside the chapel so that the Elder could feel totally alone and at ease in prayer. During the Cherubic Hymn, Elder Tychon would be caught up in spiritual contemporation for twenty to thirty minutes, obliging the chanter to repeat the Cherubic Hymn many times.
  • 1968 - During the last ten days of Elder Tychon's life, he asked Elder Paisios to stay with him. Even during those days, however, Elder Paisios was asked to stay in an adjacent cell. Elder Paisios claimed that he didn't offer proper relief, but since Elder Tychon had never given his body relief, any help at all seemed a lot. Once, Elder Paisios used two lemons and made Elder Tychon lemonade; Elder Tychon was astonished at the taste of what he thought was normal water, having been so long since he had tasted lemonade.
During this time, as he was too weak to go to his chapel, he asked Elder Paisios to get the cross from the altar table.
  • 1968 September 10: Elder Tychon reposed in the presence of Elder Paisios, giving Elder Paisios all of his earthly possessions, including residence at his cell. He left instructions for a bishop to read prayers over his grave, and to not have his relics exhumed until the second coming.
  • 1977 May 26: Elder Paisios wrote the life of Elder Tychon, in Elder Tychon's cell.