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DOI 10.12887/28-2015-2-110-06

Krzysztof LEŚNIEWSKI – The Holy Fools in the Tradition of Eastern Christianity

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The ‘holy fools’ or the ‘fools for Christ’ serve God under the guise of foolishness. In the life of the Church they represent the most extreme and extraordinary way of obeying the Gospel preaching about overturning and rejecting individual morality. The holy fools were usually monks and radical ascetics who came down into the ‘world,’ into the cities. In ‘Christian’ society they performed strange and senseless actions – the actions of madness. Their way of life reveals to ordinary Christians the truth of salvation through antics, jokes and absurdities. Their purpose was to remind us that the Gospel message is ‘foolishness’ and that salvation and sanctity cannot be reconciled with the satisfaction that comes from the society’s respect and personal recognition. The article presents the holy fools as an interesting phenomenon in the spiritual tradition of Eastern Christianity. In its first part, there are depicted biblical roots of ‘holy foolishness,’ including references to the Old and the New Testaments. Then there is described the Byzantine foolishness, starting with the Egyptian desert. In the third part of the article the author concentrates on the Russian ‘jurodstvo,’ relating to some very famous saints. Apart from that there are also shown the main reasons, which are of great importance, for being the ‘holy fool,’ such as: humility, detachment from this world, and charity. The final part of the article features the most important presuppositions of foolishness for Christ.

Keywords: the Holy Fools, the Fools for Christ, Eastern Christian Ascetics, the Byzantine foolishness, the Russian Iurodstvo

Contact: Katedra Teologii Prawosławnej, Instytut Ekumeniczny, Wydział Teologii,
Al. Racławickie 14, 20-950 Lublin, Poland
E-mail: lesni@kul.pl

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  1. ISSN 0860-8024
  2. e-ISSN 2720-5355
  3. The Republic of Poland Ministry of Science and Higher Education Value: 100.00
  4. Quarterly “Ethos” is indexed by the following databases: EBSCO, CEEOL, Index Copernicus (ICV 2017: 55.26), Philosopher’s Index, ERIH Plus.
  5. DOI Prefix 10.12887