Monday, June 13, 2016

Friends and Enemies: Archimandrite Danil Palomnik

The venerable Danil the Pilgrim was made archimandrite of the Monastery of the Sacred Transfiguration in 1664. His appointment by the Metropolitan was the final blow in the career of schimonk Iakov Gagarin Alekseyevich, a notoriously difficult to deal with monk with an independent turn of mind.

Danil is an old man with a long history in the Orthodox Church. He was raised on a backwoods farm where he taught himself both Old Théan and Old Church Teodoran from the books his father occasionally purchased at market. Danil is known to be an exceptionally holy man, so devoted to the teachings of the Prophet that when his father was slaughtered by bandits, he did not raise a hand against them in anger. He was a captive of a band of Fhideli murderers for six years where he served as a sort of priest and confessor. When he finally escaped, he was taken in by the Church and began his long and storied career.

The latter half of his life was spent in the Monastery of the Sacred Transfiguration, and much of that was spent engaged in a particularly obscure war of theology with Iakov Alekseyevich. Both men of humble beginnings, Alekseyevich's insistence on the correct doctrinal readings of old holy texts drove Danil to fury. Danil felt that Alekseyevich, some thirty-five or so years his junior, should at least conduct himself with the basic tenets of respect. Alekseyevich, however, published his correspondences by reading them out loud at chapter meetings. Eventually, Danil cursed Alekseyevich in public and took an oath of silence until the man should be expelled from the monastery.

When the old abbot died, Iakov Alekseyevich put himself forward as a candidate. Supporting his candidacy was the abbey's cellarer, Dmitry Vasileyevich, a noble bastard from the city. By blasting his opponents as heretics, misguided, or downright unbelievers, the two men paved a way for Iakov to claim the abbacy. He won the election, and waited to be confirmed by the Metropolitan.

Danil Palomnik, unable to stomach the thought of serving the loud-mouthed Alekseyevich, had written several scathing letters to the Metropolitan before the election. When he arrived, rather than approving the results of the brothers' election, he named Danil Palomnik the abbey's archimandrate, stating reasons of "desperate measures to be taken against enemies of the Faith."

Archimandrite Palomnik responded by immediately punishing Iakov and Dmitry, removing them from positions of authority in the abbey and reducing their rank to that of mere novices. Iakov, unable to stomach this insult, began to preach against the archimandrite to the abbey's local clients—farmers, knights, anyone he could reach.

Late one evening, Dmitry was warned that the two monks were to be stripped of their station in the morning, made defrocked priests, and turned over to the Stelets for punishment as agitators against the state. They fled in the darkness, preferring the ignominy of escaping to the west than to the death-by-torture that awaited them at the hands of the Gaius' troops.


  1. Hi Josh! I just grabbed your last several posts. I may be able to back convert characters from late 17th century Theah to early 17th century Europe. Thanks!