This Успенский собор – Dormition (or Assumption) Cathedral from 1722, built on the site of a XIV-XV century Church, is all that remains of the XIII century Отроч Успенский монастырь – Otroch Assumption Monastery, the remaining structures having fallen victim to the militant atheist Communists. By tradition the monastery was founded in part by Ярослав Ярославич – Yaroslav III Yaroslavich (1230–1271), younger brother of Alexander Nevsky, whose son and successor in Tver, Михаил Ярославич – Mikhail Yaroslavich (1271 – 22 November 1318), was murdered/martyred by the Mongols, as Tver had become too strong under father and son. Mikhail is counted on that account as a Russian saint. And this monastery is also noteworthy for two of its XVI century prisoners.
Beginning in 1531 преподобный Максим Грек – Saint Maximus (or Maxim) the Greek – Μάξιμος ο Γραικός (* 1470-1556 †), was a twenty-years guest of the monastery, during which years he wrote some of his greatest works, while suffering unjustly the wrongful accusations of heresy and misdeamenors at the hands of the corrupt of the Russian Church and state.
This most extraordinary Greek monk had taken monastic vows at Βατοπέδι – the Holy and Great Monastery of Vatopedi – Ватопед on Mount Athos in 1507. He had been a traveller and student in Italy, including Florence, and he was greatly influenced by the holy Dominican friar there, Girolamo Savonarola (* 21 September 1452 – 23 May 1498 †), gathering Savonarola's ashes after he had been burned at the stake, having failed to fully clean up the Florentine damnable twin corruptions of sodomy and usury.
From Vatopedi, Saint Maximus went to Russia after the Grand Prince of Moscow, Василий III Иванович – Vasily III Ivanovich requested a translator of religious texts. Grand Prince Vasily Ivanovich reigned from 1505 to 1533, whereupon his son, Ivan IV "the Terrible" succeeded him. Maximus' call to Russia was all the more remarkable as he had no knowledge of Old Church Slavonic at that point. After study and with help he translated the Psalter and thereafter Divine Offices and other works, as Grand Prince Vasily refused to let him return to Athos.
In the major XVI century dispute among the Possessors and the non-Possessors over whether it was fitting and right for the Church and her monasteries to have (vast) landholdings, Saint Maxim the Greek took the side of the non-Possessors led by Нил Сорский – Saint Nil Sorsky (c. 1433–1508). It should be pointed out in this connection though that the opposite camp, the Possessors, were not without compelling principles in support of their position, as indeed the Russian Orthodox Church — what should be rather conceived of and referred to as the Orthodox Church in Russia — also regards Saint Joseph Volotsky (Joseph of Volokolamsk) – Иосиф Волоцкий (c. 1440 – 1515), the leader of the non-Possessors, as a saint. After all, how could the Church see to education and to the poor, the sick and the old without material resources? At another time (about three centuries later) and another place (the U.K.) a great writer wrote well of what vital social and Christian function English Catholic Monasteries had served before Henry Tutor's looting operation in England's XVI century, absurdly thought of by billions of Protestants over the ensuing half millennium as a principled, Christian Reformation. The writer was William Cobbett (1763 – 1835), and his work of 1824-1826 was titled The History of the Protestant Reformation in England and Ireland. At all events, Maxim's stand made him enemies aplenty, perhaps more so as he already had a holy inclination to not remain silent in the face of injustices and corruptions which he observed in Russia.
Perhaps one such enemy was Макарий, Митрополит Московский и всея Руси – Metropolitan Macarius (born 1482; reigned as Archbishop of Novgorod from 1526 and as Metropolitan of Moscow and all Russia from 1542 to his death in 1563; canonized in 1988). Macarius — very much unlike Maxim the Greek and very much contrary to the Bible — blessed the divorce of Moscovite Grand Prince Vasily III Ivanovich from his barron wife, Соломония Юрьевна Сабурова – Saint Solomonia Yuryevna Saburova of Suzdal, and his remarriage on 21 January 1526 to Елена Васильевна Глинская – Elena Vasilyevna Glinskaya, a union which as to produce Russian Tsardom's deranged mass-murderer, Ivan IV, the Terrible. From the death of Grand Prince Vasily in 1533 until her own in 1538, Glinskaya was regent for her infant son Ivan.
Will any readers see parallels to the situation which unfolded in England, also in the second quarter of the XVI century, with
- Moscovite Grand Prince Vasily III (his son was the first crowned Tsar) playing the part parallel to Henry VIII;
- Saint Solomonia Saburova cast in a role like that of Catherine of Aragon;
- Elena Glinskaya playing Anne Boleyn, or vice versa (both girls having been raised Catholics);
- Metropolitan Macarius being some composite of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey and Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer; and
- Saint Maximus the Greek a holy brother to Saint Thomas More.
With Macarius the chief compiler of the most important work of the Russian Orthodox Church, Russian princes and prelates and humbler personages, then and now, will probably not welcome the proposed comparison.
During the 1530s and early 1540s, senior most Russian prelate to be, Macarius, supervised the compilation of the extremely weighty, spiritually and materially, twelve-volume, Slavonic
Минеѧ – Великие Четьи-Минеи – Great Menaion Reader – Μηναίον.
Strikingly, in this Menaion Macarius included some of the writings of Maxim the Greek, whom Macarius would not "pardon".
Maxim the Greek was kept prisoner at the Otroch Assumption Monastery in Tver from 1531 to 1551, the interventions on his behalf of three of the Pentarchy of Patriarches, those of Antioch, Constantinople, and Jerusalem, notwithstanding. Yet he was not to die in Tver or to be murdered at all. This holy Greek monk and healer of unholy Schism, Maximus the Greek, was to spend his last years, from circa 1551 to 1556, at the Holy Trinity Lavra of Saint Sergius in Sergiev Posad.
In 1568 and not very many years after Saint Maximus' 1551 departure from Отроч Успенский монастырь – Otroch Assumption Monastery in Tver, another famous prisoner arrived, Митрополит Филипп II – Metropolitan of Moscow Saint Philip II (* 11 February 1507 – 23 December 1569 †). This extraordinary monk had done great things to build and develop Монастырь Спасо-Преображенский Соловецкий – Solovyetsky Monastery of the Transfiguration of the Savior. He was asked personnally by Tsar Ivan IV to become Metropolitan Archbishop of Moscow, but Philip's stated condition – that the Terrible Tsar Ivan – Иван Грозный cease his murders and debauchery – were ignored. In a 2 March 1568 showdown between Russia's chief prince and chief prelate, Saint Philip stood firm for God and the Church, publically rebuking rather than blessing the Tsar. On 23 December 1569 Metropolitan Saint Philip was murdered and martyred in his cell in the monastery in Tver by one of Ivan the Terrible's chief monsters, the leader Ivan's Oprichniki – Опричники, Малюта Скуратов – Malyuta Skuratov.