Famous Russian traveler Fyodor Konyukhov has given up exploration and world records to become an Orthodox priest
An extensive traveler, Konyukhov has reached the North Pole three times, the South Pole, the Pole of Inaccessibility, and climbed to the top of Mt. Everest. He has set world records by crossing the Atlantic Ocean in a rowboat in 46 days, as well as crossing Greenland on a dogsled in 22 hours. He has also made several round the world trips alone on yachts.
"Something probably serious happened since I made such a decision: I thought, enough of temptation, I want to pray more," Konyukhov said.
He said he had made the decision during his last trip to the Antarctic and will now undertake praying for those who travel. He did not name the reason why he made such a drastic change in his life.
"I have worked a lot for people and for people's fame as well as
my own fame, and now I want to work for God and the Church,"
Konyukhov, 59, had earlier sent an official letter to the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, requesting to become a priest. Kirill told Konyukhov in April that he may choose which eparchy he would like to begin his priesthood.
Konyukhov decided on Zaporizhia, Ukraine, where he was born in 1951.
He made his first "expedition" when he was 15 by crossing the Sea of Azov on a rowboat. By the time he reached 50 years old, Konyukhov made more than 40 unique expeditions and climbs. He has written numerous books and painted many pictures of his travels.
With his wife Irene and his son Nikolai
"As an adult man, I understand that there is no solitude in this world. There are whales and dolphins accompanying you in the ocean, birds flying in the sky, and bears and seals meeting you on your way to the Pole. I know for sure that God and Saints are always around when you pray. Nobody is available for help in the huge ocean, except them," Konyukhov believes.
He made four circumnavigations and crossed the Atlantic fourteen times.
Fyodor is the first and so far the only person in the world to have reached
the five extreme Poles of the planet. His name was entered into the
encyclopedia Chronicle of Mankind.
By the age of fifty he had made more than forty unique trips and climbs expressing his vision of the world in paintings and books. As a religious man, Fyodor Konyukhov agrees that the meaning of life of an Orthodox believer is to seek God's grace, to learn what God has in store for one and to live one's life in keeping with God's commandments, preparing for eternity. But when asked why risking life was so often? Fyodor says: Because suffering is the only way you can see the Lord.