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STARETZ – A staretz (Russian) or geronta (Gr, pronounced yeronda, both literally meaning elder) is a holy person gifted with the charism of spiritual direction, often a monk or hermit (not necessarily a priest), in the Church. The plural of the Russian form is startsy.

Russian, elder, starets, from Old Church Slavonic starts, elder, from star, old. Other forms: stare; startsa or gerontissa for women.