When the soul knows the love of God by the Holy Spirit, then he clearly feels that the Lord is our own Father, the closest, dearest Father, the best. And there is not greater happiness that to love God with all the mind and heart, and our neighbor as ourself. And when this love is in the soul, then all things bring joy to the soul.
(St. Silouan the Athonite, Writings, IX.15)
Silouan the Athonite (Russian: Силуан Афонский) also sometimes referred to as Silouan of Athos, Saint Silvanus the Athonite or Staretz Silouan (1866–1938) was an Eastern Orthodox monk of Russian origin, born Simeon Ivanovich Antonov who was a poet and monk of the St. Panteleimon Monastery.
He was born Simeon Ivanovich Antonov, of Russian Orthodox parents who came from the village of Sovsk in Imperial Russia’s Tambov Governorate. At the age of twenty-seven, after a period of military service, he left his native Russia and came to the monastic state of Mt. Athos (an autonomous peninsula in Greece) where he became a monk at the Monastery of St Panteleimon, known as “Rossikon”, an Orthodox monastery that houses Russian monks yet is, as all the Athonite monasteries, under the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Constantinople, and was given the name Silouan (the Russian version of the Biblical name Silvanus.)
An ardent ascetic, he received the grace of unceasing prayer and saw Christ in a vision. After long years of spiritual trial, he acquired great humility and inner stillness. He prayed and wept for the whole world as for himself, and he put the highest value on love for enemies. He became widely known as an elder. The writer and mystic Thomas Merton has described Silouan as “the most authentic monk of the twentieth century.” St Silouan died on September 24, 1938. His memory is celebrated on September 24.
Though barely literate, he was sought out by pilgrims for his wise counsel. His writings were edited by his disciple and pupil, Archimandrite Sophrony. Father Sophrony has written the life of the saint along with a record of St. Silouan’s teachings in the book Saint Silouan the Athonite.
Starets Silouan was canonized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate in 1987.