Peresvet was a boyar from Bryansk who was known for his military valour and strength. He took monastic vows and then schema in the Trinity monastery of St. Sergius of Radonezh.
Alexander Peresvet, ? – 1380. A hero of the battle of Kulikovo.
Peresvet was a boyar from Bryansk who was known for his military valour and strength. He took monastic vows and then schema in the Trinity monastery of St. Sergius of Radonezh. According to “The Tale of the Battle of Mamai” (recorded in the late 15th century), St. Sergius blessed Grand Prince Dmitri Ivanovich of Moscow to enter into a battle with the Tatars and sent two monks with him — Alexander Peresvet and Rodion (Andrey) Osliabia. Monastic vows prohibit to shed blood, therefore, some scholars have questioned whether the information in “The Tale” about the presence of the disciples of Sergius in the Russian army is true. However, it could be the case that this unique situation arose because Sergius of Radonezh and Dmitry of Moscow sought to present the campaign against Mamai as a holy war. Then St. Sergius took over all potential sins that could be committed by his disciples.
“The Tale” says that according to tradition, there was to be a fight between bogatyrs (the strongest men) from both armies before the battle of Kulikovo, which was to predict the outcome of the battle. The giant man Chelubei (Temir-Murza) stepped forward from the Tatar army. Peresvet stepped forward from the Russian ranks to meet him, and Osliabia sent him his blessing. The warriors fought on horsebacks — and both were killed. Rodion Osliabia died in the battle, too.
The monks and warriors were buried in Moscow, in St. Simon Monastery, in the Cathedral Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Afterwards, the monastery was moved to another location, and the cathedral church became a parish church.
The dramatic image of Peresvet, the monk warrior, a hero of the battle of Kulikovo, is portrayed with a laconic touch. A rider sits on the back of a blue-black horse carved from dolerite with great attention to detail. The uniform colour is highlighted with the tail and mane of grey chalcedony, its brown crust shimmering in some strands. The warrior is wearing a long shirt made of ochre coloured flint with darker longitudinal bands that symbolises the hero’s unbending will. Peresvet took the schema (asceticism) — the highest degree of rejection of all things secular. His attire shows that he is no simple warrior — an analabos of dolerite, a special garment, a long cloak bearing the image of the cross can be seen against the background of the cassock made of chalcedony of a lighter hue. Peresvet’s head is covered by yet another attribute of a monk who has taken the schema — a cowl (pointed hood) made of impenetrable black dolerite, its long flaps waving in the wind. A big cloak carved out of jasper flows behind the bogatyr’s back. The play of blood-red and shiny steel strips in the stone creates a sense of the imminent tragedy awaiting the hero.
The Great Prince [Dmitry] said, “O Father, give me two warriors from your brethren — Alexander Peresvet and his brother Andrei Osliabia, and this is how you will help us.” The Elder Reverend [Sergius] commanded both of them to prepare quickly and to follow the Great Prince as they were renowned as warriors in many battles and withstood many attacks. They obeyed the Reverend Elder and did not reject his commandments. And instead of perishable weapons he gave them the imperishable — the cross of Christ embroidered on their cloaks, and commanded them to put it on instead of gilded helmets. And he gave them into the hands of the Great Prince, and said, “Here are my warriors and the ones you have selected,” and he said to them, “May peace be with you, my brethren, fight the dirty cumans courageously like the glorious warriors for the faith of Christ and for all Orthodox Christianity.” And he blessed the Great Prince’s whole army with Christ’s sign, the symbol of peace and blessings.
The strong armies are already close to each other, and then the evil cuman rode forward from the large Tatar army, boasting of his valour in front of all, and he looked like the Goliath of old times — he was five fathoms tall and three fathoms in width. And Alexander Peresvet, a monk who was in the regiment led by Prince Vladimir Vsevolodovich, saw him and said, stepping forward from the ranks, “This man is looking for someone like himself, and I want to tell him a couple of words!” And on his head was an archangelic helmet, and he was armed with his schema, as instructed by Father Superior Sergius.
And he said, “Fathers and brothers, forgive me, for I have sinned! Brother Andrei Osliabia, pray God for me! Peace and blessings to my child Yakov!” — and he attacked the cuman and added, “Father Sergius, help me with your prayer!” The cuman rushed toward him, and the Christians all exclaimed, “God, help your servant!” And they hit each other hard with their spears, so that the earth barely held them, and both fell off their horses to the ground and died.
<...> The Great Prince turned to his army and said: “You see, brothers, who started the battle, for Alexander Peresvet, who was helping us and who was blessed by Father Superior Sergius, defeated the great, strong, evil Tartar, many people would have otherwise drunk the cup of death from his hand.”
“Svyatogor” Hard stone carving studio
Author: Grigory Ponomarev
Craftsmen: Artemy Lebedev, Roman Bakhtin
Jewellers: Viktor Sobolev, Dmitry Babushkin
Materials: dolerite, moss agate, flint, jasper, carnelian, chalcedony, hematite, Gazgan marble, jade, silver, brass, gold plating
Dimensions: 50 × 33 × 47 cm