The Elders of Optina Monastery have had a tremendous impact on Russian society, evoking a nationwide blossoming of sanctity. During the course of a century, their prophecy and God-illumined counsel attracted spiritual seekers from far and wide.
The tradition of eldership is a continuation of the ancient prophetic ministry of the Church. Elder Leonid (1768-1841) introduced and firmly established this tradition in Optina Monastery, as transmitted through the spiritual lineage of the man who first compiled the writings of The Philokalia: St. Paisius Velichkovsky.
Possesing penetrating spiritual discernment, Elder Leonid was at the same time loving and fatherly. He could mystically see into the hearts of those who came to him, knowing when to rebuke, when to exhort, and when to console. He especially extended his care to people for whom no one else seemed to have time, and thousands came away from him healed in both soul and body. Preserving a holy simplicity, joyfulness and inward peace, he was an inexhaustible vessel of the grace of God.
The first in the Optina Elders Series, Elder Leonid of Optina includes the Elder's Life and counsels, together with the Life of his spiritual preceptor, Elder Theodore of Svir, a direct disciple of St. Paisius Velichovsky.