Our Holy Father Innocent, Bishop of Irkutsk (1731)

November 26, 2019 Length: 2:04

He was descended from a noble family near Chernigov. He became a monk at the Lavra of the Kiev Caves in 1706 and in 1721 was consecrated bishop. He was sent as a missionary to China but, due to political complications, could not gain entry into the country and settled temporarily near Lake Baikal in Siberia. He and his companions soon ran out of money and were forced to live for a time on alms and by day- labor. Rather than become discouraged, Saint Innocent made use of this time to learn the native language and found a school for the local Mongol people, many of whom he brought to the faith.
  In 1722 he was appointed Bishop of Irkutsk, a diocese that covered all the huge area of eastern Siberia. At the time of his appointment there were only about thirty churches in the whole diocese. For ten years the bishop devoted himself to converting the Mongol peoples, preaching to them and catechizing them in their own language. At the same time he worked for moral reform among the Russian Orthodox people of the region. As bishop, he lived in the Monastery of the Ascension in Irkutsk, where he established a firm ascetical life, in which he himself took a full part. He spent every night in prayer, meditation on the writings of the Fathers, and preparing sermons in both Russian and the local languages.
  Under the strain of the cruel Siberian climate the Saint fell ill and reposed in 1731. Many miracles take place to this day at his tomb. Among the people of Siberia he is honored as highly as Saint Nicholas and counted as the Enlightener of their land.


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