St. Silouan was born a simple peasant in Russia in 1866. He grew up working and entertaining himself like other youth. While serving in the military, as was customary for each young man to do for his given period of time, St. Silouan went out with his friends to a party. He sat quietly thinking about the monks on Mount Athos who would be at vigil instead, when his friends began to mock him. After finishing his service, he visited Kronstadt and left a note to St. John asking for his prayers and direction in his life.
Shortly afterwards, St. Silouan, then 26, left the world and became a monk at the Russian Monastery of St. Panteleimon on Mount Athos. He lived there for 46 years as a simple monk, but his heart was made deep and wise by the Living God Himself, for his ardent obedience, humility, and prayer. He became adept at the use of the Jesus Prayer, and prayed for the salvation of all. Illumined from above, he could see the hearts of men and knew the depths of spiritual life. He had visions of the Theotokos and Christ, heard these words, “Keep your mind in Hell, and despair not,” and wept in repentance, seen here, as Christ blesses him in this icon.