June 23, 2021

True Orthodox Diocese of Western Europe

Russian True Orthodox Church (RTOC)

Right-believing Demetrius Donskoy, Grand Prince of Moscow – May 19

4 min read

The right-believing Great Prince Demetrios of Moscow was born in 1350. His father died when Demetrios was just a young child, and so he was entrusted to the guidance of Saint Alexis of Moscow (February 12). The holy Prince Demetrios combined Christian piety with his remarkable political talents, devoting himself to the unification of the land of Russia and to the emancipation of Russia from the Tatar-Mongol Yoke.
On August 18, 1380, after gathering his forces for a decisive battle with Mamai of the Golden Horde, Saint Demetrios visited Saint Sergius of Radonezh (September 25) in order to receive his blessing. The Elder blessed two monks from his monastery, Schema-monk Andrew [Oslyaba] and Schema-monk Alexander [Peresvet], to go along and help the Prince. He also predicted that Saint Demetrios would be victorious. The Prince left Moscow with his army on August 20, and marched toward Kolomna.
One day, as they made camp before the Battle of Kulikovo, an Icon of St. Nicholas appeared in the air, hovering over a pine tree, and it descended into the hands of Saint Demetrios. There is a later Icon depicting this event, with Saint Demetrius kneeling before the Icon of Saint Nicholas, and laying his gold crown at the roots of the tree.
One of those who fought in the Battle of Kulikovo was a Lithuanian Prince by the name of Montvid Montvilo, who saved the life of Saint Demetrios by shielding him from a Tatar sword with his own body. That night he beheld Saint Nicholas in a dream. The holy wonderworker told him that he had cushioned the blow because Prince Montvilo wore on his chest an Icon of Saint Nicholas, which was a family heirloom. In return for saving the Prince’s life, Saint Nicholas told Prince Montvilo that one of his descendants would render great service to Russia.
Over the years, the Lithuanian name Montvilo became the Russian Motovilov. Alexander Motovilov, a descendant of Prince Montvilo, proposed and was rejected by his intended bride Maria, and so he entered a monastery. His obedience was to work in the prosphora bakery, but one day he felt so exhausted that he fell asleep at noon. Saint Nicholas appeared to him and said, “Alexander, your path does not lie in the monastery, but in family life. You will find your happiness with Maria, who turned you down. She will bear you a son, whom you shall name Nicholas. God requires him! I am Saint Nicholas, and I shall be the patron saint of the Motovilov family. I have been so since your ancestor, Prince Montvid Montvilo, served in the army of Prince Demetrios of the Don. During the Battle of Kulikovo, the Tatar warrior who struck down the monks Alexander and Andrew rushed at the Great Prince with his sword, but your ancestor took the blow, and the sword struck my Icon, which he wore on his chest. He would have been killed if I had not cushioned the blow, and then struck down the Tatar by Montvid’s hand.”
The Icon of Saint Nicholas, which was damaged by the Tatar’s sword, was treasured as a holy relic in the family of George Nikolaevich Motovilov.
Nicholas Alexandrovich Motovilov was born on May 3, 1809, and reposed on January 14, 1879. His great service to Russia, of course, was to write down his conversation with Saint Seraphim of Sarov (January 2) about the aim of the Christian life, and how to acquire the grace of the Holy Spirit.
After winning the battle, the Prince ordered a Moleben of Thanksgiving to God and to Saint Nicholas to be served. Later, he built a church and a monastery dedicated to St. Nicholas on that site.
Following his victory at Kulikovo Field, between the Don and Nepryadva Rivers (on September 8, the Great Feast of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos), Prince Demetrios received the honorific “of the Don.” He established the Dormition Monastery at the Dubenka River, and the church of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos near the graves of those who died for their country. The Memorial Saturday before the Feast of Saint Demetrios of Thessalonika (October 26) was established in memory of the Orthodox warriors who were killed at Kulikovo Field in the great battle against the Horde.
Saint Demetrios fell asleep in the Lord on May 19, 1389. He was buried in the cathedral of the Archangels in the Moscow Kremlin.

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