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Saint Sophrony of Essex

About Saint Sophrony of Essex

Saint Sophrony the Athonite of Essex, often simply referred to as Elder Sophrony, is a towering figure in the 20th-century Orthodox Christian world. Born in Moscow and later finding his spiritual haven in the West, his journey bridges the East and West in a unique tapestry of faith, contemplation, and spiritual guidance.

Feast Day

July 11

Birth Place

Moscow, Russia


September 23, 1896


July 11, 1993
Saint Sophrony of Essex

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Early Life and Education


Early Life and Education

Sophrony (Sergei Symeonovich Sakharov) was born in 1896 in Moscow, Russia. Even in his youth, he exhibited an artistic flair, pursuing a career in painting and studying in Paris. However, the lure of deeper spiritual truths beckoned him, leading him to abandon his artistic pursuits in search of a deeper understanding of God and the human soul.

Sophrony's spiritual journey led him to the revered monastic peninsula of Mount Athos in Greece. Here, under the guidance of Saint Silouan the Athonite, he began his monastic life, receiving the name Sophrony. The teachings of Saint Silouan, particularly the emphasis on humility and the acknowledgment of one's sins, deeply influenced Sophrony's own spiritual outlook.


Ecclesiastical Career

Post his Athonite period, Saint Sophrony felt a calling to establish a monastic community in the West. This led him to found the Monastery of St. John the Baptist in Essex, England, in 1959. This monastery soon became a spiritual oasis for many seeking Orthodox Christian spiritual guidance in the West.

At Essex, Elder Sophrony provided spiritual direction, emphasizing the importance of humility, repentance, and the Jesus Prayer. He also penned several significant works, including his biography of St. Silouan and his own reflections on Christian mysticism and asceticism.

Ecclesiastical Career

Later Life and Canonization


Later Life and Canonization

Elder Sophrony reposed in the Lord in 1993, leaving behind a rich legacy of writings, teachings, and a thriving monastic community in Essex. Recognizing his invaluable contributions to Christian spirituality and his exemplary life, the Orthodox Church canonized him, granting him the title "Saint."



Saint Sophrony the Athonite of Essex remains a beacon of Orthodox spirituality in the modern world. His teachings, emphasizing the transformative power of divine humility and the quest for a personal relationship with Christ, continue to inspire countless believers worldwide.

For a deeper dive into the life and teachings of orthodox saints, we invite you to explore our collection here. Journey with us to discover the profound wisdom and insights of one of the Orthodox Church's modern-day pillars.



Where are the relics of Saint Sophrony of Essex

The relics of Saint Sophrony of Essex are at the Monastery of St. John the Baptist in Tolleshunt Knights, Essex, England. This monastery was founded by Saint Sophrony himself in the 1950s, and it continues to be a significant place of pilgrimage for Orthodox Christians seeking spiritual guidance and wanting to venerate the saint.

Other Saints from this region

Saint Ninian of Whithorn

Saint Ninian of Whithorn

St. Ninian of Whithorn was a pioneer of Christianity in Scotland and a beacon of early Christian missionary work. Born in the 4th century, St. Ninian established the Candida Casa in Whithorn, using it as a base for his evangelical missions throughout the region. Known for his dedication to spreading the faith and his miraculous works, he left an indelible mark on the religious landscape of Britain. Celebrate the legacy of St. Ninian, whose feast day is September 16th, and explore the profound impact of his life and teachings.
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Works written by Saint Nektarios

On Prayer: Reflections of a Modern Saint

This collection of articles on prayer showcases St. Sophrony's deep connection to Christ, whom he viewed as the essence of all things (cf. Col 3.11; Rev 1.8). Born in Russia in 1896, St. Sophrony studied art in Moscow and later in France. Post the October Revolution, he briefly studied theology in France before becoming a monk on Mount Athos, Greece. Ordained as a deacon by St. Nikolai Velimirovich in 1930, he was guided spiritually by St. Silouan. He later became a priest, overseeing multiple monastic communities. Returning to France in 1947, he published Silouan's writings with his introduction. Due to health issues, he settled in England in 1959, offering spiritual guidance, especially to cancer patients.

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His Life Is Mine

Amid today's popular spiritual terms and numerous pseudo-spiritual paths, "His Life is Mine" stands out. It focuses on the 'Jesus Prayer' of Orthodox monasticism, emphasizing genuine prayer as an encounter with the personal Being, I AM, rather than mere techniques. Authored by Archimandrite Sophrony, his own journey is compelling: from a celebrated painter in Paris post the Russian Revolution to dedicating twenty-two years on Mount Athos, initially at the Russian Monastery of St. Panteleimon and later, seven years as a hermit in its 'desert.'

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We Shall See Him as He Is

Saint Sophrony began his monastic journey on Mount Athos, with his relationship with Saint Silouan being a pivotal moment in his life. He first lived communally at St. Panteleimon's monastery, then as a hermit in Karoulia's caves. After two decades on Mount Athos, he moved to Paris for medical care and worked as a parish priest. In 1959, he established a monastery in Essex, England, where he was the abbot and spiritual guide. In his later years, he chose a reclusive life once again.

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History of Orthodoxy in the United Kingdom

Orthodox Christianity in the United Kingdom: A Blend of Tradition and Modernity

The United Kingdom, with its rich Anglican and Protestant traditions, might not be the first place that comes to mind when thinking of Orthodox Christianity. However, the tapestry of faith in the UK is diverse, and Orthodox Christianity has woven its thread into this fabric over the centuries. This exploration provides a deep dive into the history, presence, and significance of Orthodox Christianity in the United Kingdom.
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