How did the saints earn a living?


A fisherman and a tax collector




It is widely known that before the Descent of the Holy Spirit the apostles were fishermen and thus they earned money for a living. However, not all of them were, as there was also a tax collector among them - Apostle Matthew. At that time such people were referred to as the publicans and were not especially liked by other people.




A craftsman

Apostle Paul was taught to make tents (Acts, 18:3). Before his conversion to Christianity, he was going to become a rabbi. According to the Jewish law, a rabbi could not take money for teaching Torah, and that is why he had to find another way to earn money. Later, when Apostle Paul started to preach the Gospel, he continued to make tents, so that he would not burden the Christian community with the needs for bare necessities. The same rule was intact at the dawn of monasticism. Every hermit had to care about his subsistence himself, making floor mats, baskets or any other basketry for sale. That is how Makarius the Great (300-391), Abba Agathon (the second part of the 4th century), Abba Pimen and many others lived.

A farmer

Saint Philaretos (700-792) lived in the Byzantine Empire and was quite rich. He owned fields, vineyards and large herds of cattle. A lot of people had an opportunity to work on his plantations. He had only one “weakness” – love towards other people. He could not help but give money to those people who were in need.

Once a misfortune happened to him. The army of Osman devastated his lands, took all his cattle and slaves, which lead to a sudden life of poverty for him and his family. Saint Philaretos endured that trial with great firmness, thanking God for everything and helping the other people, despite the fact he was now poor himself. At that time, the emperor sent his messengers all over the Empire, so that they would find a bride for him. One of them came to Saint Philaretos’ house, where he was generously welcomed. The servant of the emperor was pleased by such a warm welcome and asked Philaretos to show him his granddaughters. Soon Maria, the eldest one, became the emperor’s wife. The Saint was invited to the emperor’s palace and received honor and wealth. The Saint ordered to organize a great feast, on which he called all the poor people of the capital. Right before his death, Saint Philaretos asked to give all his wealth to charity. By the example of his own life the Saint showed us how we can better “invest” our money.

A businessman

Few know the story of Innocent Sibiryakov (1860-1901), the millionaire-monk and gold industry entrepreneur. He was born in Irkutsk in a rich family and recieved a large inheritance, which allowed him to do active charity work. Innocent Sibiryakov opened libraries, helped children from poor families to get  an education, invested money in researches and scientific laboratories, helped monasteries and built hospitals. With his money it became possible to build the St. Andrew’s Cathedral at St. Andrew Skete on Athos. 


Despite the fact Saint Innocent contributed large sums of money, he did not just waste his parents’ money, but augmented it. Before he went to Athos to became a monk, he owned a 10 million ruble fortune, although he had inherited only 900 thousand from his parents. On November 6, 1901, the millionaire and schemamonk Innocent Sibiryakov passed away on the Holy Mountain after unction and recieving Communion. After his death people began to venerate him as a local saint.  Today the Russian Orthodox Church is discussing the issue of his canonization.

A fund manager

Saint John of Kronstadt, who was well-known all over the Russian Empire even while alive, “earned” money due to his own reputation. Rich people from the whole country came to him to thank the wonder-worker. Father John had an unusual plan how to realize his capital – he just handed out his money. One of the Saint’s contemporaries, General Ivanov-Lutsevin, witnessed once that a woman came to Father John and asked for help. He answered that he had nothing. At the exact moment someone gave him a package with money, and Father John gave it to the woman without hesitation. Later it was discovered, that the amount given was in the sum of 5,000 rubles (today this sum equals 10,000 USD). According to the stories of other eyewitnesses, Father John handed out about 150,000 rubles per year. Besides, Saint John of Kronstadt was the founder of the first organization dealt with the development of people in the workforce, rehabilitation, education and charity in Russia. Any person in need could get help there, regardless of the person's religious beliefs. This was a non profit organization where with the exception of the proceeds from sales of the various goods such as twines, ropes, hammocks, mattresses, packages and boxes, the only other income of the organization came from private donations. It is known, that Father John invested about 40,000 rubles of his own money, every year.

A surgeon

Saint Luke (Voyno-Yasenetsky) (1877-1961) earned money with his own hands and mind. With his hands he operated on people as a general surgeon (usually he did that free), and with his mind he made discoveries in the sphere of medicine. During World War II, two of his science works were published - “The Study of Purulent Surgery” and “The Late Reactions of the Infected Ballistic Wounds of the Joints”. Those two works brought the saint a special financial grant of the 1st degree  which amounted to 200,000 ruble. From the total sun he recieved the saint donated 130,000 rubles to help injured children. 


Source: http://foma.ru/kak-svyatyie-zarabatyivali-dengi.html

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