St Zenobius Metropolitan of Tetri-Tskaro

St Zenobius was born on 14 September 1896 with the name Zacharias. He was from Chernigov in Russia, and lost his father when he was three years old and his mother when he was eleven. He lived a humble childhood in poverty and entered the Monastery of Glinsk.

After being conscripted into the army during World War I, he was tonsured a monk with the name Zenobius in 1917. When the Communists closed the Monastery, Zenobius was ordained deacon and then hieromonk, serving until 1930 in the Church of St Nicholas in Sukhum. Along with other monks in exile, he lived a nomadic life to avoid the Communists.

When there was a surprise passport check which would have led to Fr Zenobius’ arrest, he fled into the forest. Entering a secluded clearing, he hid there but soon realised that it was the den of a ferocious bear. When the bear arrived and saw the Saint light a fire, the bear went away and spent the night close to the Saint without attacking him.

In 1930, Saint Zenobius was placed in prison where he contracted malaria. He was repeatedly arrested and later exiled. Throughout his exile and punishments, he witnessed for Christ and won the respect of other exiled criminals, guards and judges.

After his release in 1950, Patriarch Callistratus of Georgia appointed St Zenobius as Rector of the St Alexander Nevsky Church in Tbilisi and elevated him to Archimandrite, and later to Bishop of Stephanovan. Despite these elevations, he remained an ascetic in the world, deeply devoted to the Jesus Prayer and asceticism, and keeping a monastic prayer rule and performing all of the daily offices.

In 1972, St Zenobius was elevated to Metropolitan of Tetri-Tskaro. As a hierarch and spiritual father, he emphasised patience, humility and prayer. St Zenobius knew the day of his death in advance. On that day, he specifically gathered all the monks from the Glinsk Monastery who lived in Georgia, took Holy Communion and surrendered his soul to the Lord on 23 February 1985.

Source: Lychnos December 2021 / January 2022