St. Sergius, the founder of the Holy Trinity Lavra, was born of wealthy Rostov boyars on May 3, 1314. In 1337, at the age of 23, after his parents’ death, he decided to leave for the desert together with his elder brother Stephen. The brothers chose to found their hermitage in a clearing surrounded by thick forest on a low hill, later called Makovets (a term often used to indicate the top of a hill). They built for themselves a cell and a small church, which they dedicated to the Lifegiving Trinity. That was the birth of the monastery, which later served as a source of pride and inspiration to the people of Russia.
The life of a hermit was very difficult and required a good deal of perseverance and will. Stephen could not take the rigours of winter and the scarcity of food. He preferred life in an urban monastery and left for Moscow.
For about two years Sergius remained alone in the desert, and in silence and prayer he prepared himself for his monastic vows. Despite the distance of his hermitage, word concerning the exemplary ascetic life of St. Sergius soon spread everywhere and pious monks began coming to him in search of guidance. Later farmers and city dwellers used to come from all over for St. Sergius` blessing and advice and the n settled in the area of the monastery. The Mongol yoke, which weighed heavily on the country, caused its ruin and forced people to leave the most exposed regions and seek refuge in the wilderness.
Sergy Radonezhsky also exercised a great spiritual authority and reconciled the Russian princes to each other, thus preventing civil war and unifying the Russian principalities into one state. In his lifetime already he was revered as a saint.
In 1380, Prince Dimitry Donskoy of Moscow came to seek St. Sergius` blessing before leading his army for the Orthodox faith and for the liberation of his native land from the Mongol yoke, which greatly oppressed Russia since 1237. Having received the saint’s blessing to go against the godless enemies, the Grand Prince won a great victory over the army of the Tartar Khan Mamay on the Kulikovo Field on the 8th of September. It was the first major Russian victory against the Tartars. After that, Moscow Princes became the patrons of the Trinity monastery.
Sergy Radonezhsky, played a huge role in the socio-political and religious life of Russian people in the 14th and 15th centuries. He had over seventy students, who founded over fifty monasteries across all of Rus, ten of which are objects of Russian cultural heritage today. Thus was established the whole monastic school which would affect the future of the country’s culture.
During the troubled period from 1608-1610 the monastery withstood the siege of foreign interventionists and became once again the centre of political life of the country. Hence, in 1613, Tsar Mikhail Romanov went to Moscow to be crowned. At the monastery, Pyotr I twice survived attempts on his life from rebellion and musketeers of Princess Sofia in 1685. In the 19th century, the monastery became elected as a Patriarch of Moscow and all of Rus.