Saint Blessed starets Pavel Of Taganrog (Pavel Taganrogskiy) has dramatically influenced the belief in God and spiritual look of inhabitants of Taganrog, Don Land, South of Russia and Ukraine. A plain layman, who lived in Taganrog in XIX century, he conciliated love and worship of Russian Orthodox Christians, who flowed to him for a piece of advice and spiritual support.
Pavel Pavlovich Stoykov was born on November 21 (November 8th OS), 1792 in Malorossia guberniya of the Russian Empire (now Ukraine) in a rich noble family. His parents - Pavel and Paraskeva were devoutly religious people, they infused in the heart of their son the belief in God and piety. Since his youth Pavel felt a flaming love for holy places and pilgrimage. He told about himself: "All my desire was to pray to God, my intention was to go on pilgrimage for rescue of my soul, because the surrounding life was full of secular vanity and impedes my holy wish". His father would never let him become a minister of clergy; he wanted to provide his son with a higher education. Instead of this, the 16 year-old young man followed the voice of his heart, secretly left the home of his parents and had been pilgrimaging to cloisters for a year and finally received a severe punishment from his father.
When Pavel was 25 year old, his father decided to divide the property between him and his elder brother Ivan. With a comfortable inheritance, the young ascetic dispensed it in Christ's name, the father gave his blessing and young Pavel left home forever. He wandered a lot to holy places, including to Kievo-Pecherskaya and Pochaevskaya Lavras that he visited several times; he liked to go to the north of Russia, visited Solovetskiy, Verkolskiy, Kojeozerskiy cloisters and many others.
After 10 years of pilgrimage, Blessed Pavel settled in Taganrog in the 1825-1830 years. Taganrog became the Saint's second home city, where he lived a simple life with no regard for his noble birth. The Blessed Pavel spent the first years of his life in Taganrog renting different flats. Later, he moved into a house on Depaldo Street (now "Pereulok Turgenevskiy"), not far from the Saint Nicholas Church. Thanks to the dean of Taganrog county, archpriest Alexander Klyunkov, this house still exists and is known among people as the "keliya of starets Pavel".
Pavel devoted all of his life to serving God. Although Pavel was not in orders, essentially he led an ascetic monastic life in a bustling town; he kept constantly a severe fast and gave himself to incessant prayers. He ate a little. In his old age he drank only one cup of kvass with a soaked rusk a day. He slept also a little, commonly on the bare bench without a pillow. He put on plain peasant clothes and spoke simple Low-Russian language. He told nobody about his noble birth. During all his life he went to pray to the church every day, at nights he made all-night prayerful vigils. Insensibly he accustomed his novices to this way of life. While there was the strength Blessed Paul often traveled to holy places, including he went on foot 3000 versts to Solovki more than once. But when by the old age he could go no longer, he dispatched to cloisters his novices and believers, who came to him.
Blessed Pavel was a full of love preceptor. All of his life, he received everyone in his keliya, liked to present people with gifts, to treat to them, gave counsels on how to live and to rescue their own souls. For the righteous life God endowed Paul with gifts of astuteness and prevision, with gifts to work miracles and to heal people. Pavel became very famous during his lifetime. In the five final years of his life, Blessed Pavel never went out of his house, ate and slept a little at all. Blessed Pavel died on 23rd (10th) of March 1879 at the time of Great fast (Lent) at the age of 78.
On June 20, 1999 Russian Orthodox Church canonized Blessed Pavel of Taganrog. Many people saw and remember a unique aureole in the sky over the Saint Nicholas Church in Taganrog on the day of Blessed Pavel's canonization. Numerous miracles and healings occur from his holy relics, resting in the Saint Nicholas Church in Taganrog. Today many people come from all corners of Russia to the shrine with his holy relics, which are kept at the Saint Nicholas Church (1778) in Taganrog. The chapel at the old cemetery is never empty; the lamps in front of holy icons in his keliya are never dying down. Thanks to Saint Pavel's prayers, believers receive from God healing, consolation and divine help.
June 11, 2016 Pavel of Taganrog became the first and the only saint in the South of Russia to receive universal veneration