April 2011 - St. Tikhon
Saint Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow
St. Tikhon was the 11th Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia of the Russian Orthodox Church during the early years of the Soviet Union. He was born, Vasily Ivanovich Bellavin in January 1865. His father was a priest of the diocese of Pskov. From his early years, Vasily displayed a particular religious disposition, love for the Church as well as rare meekness and humility. From 1878 to 1883, he studied at the Pskov Theological Seminary. His fellow students liked and respected him for his piety, brilliant progress in studies, and constant readiness to help his comrades.
In 1888, he graduated from the Saint Petersburg Theological Academy and returned to the Pskov Seminary as an instructor of Moral and Dogmatic Theology. In 1891, he took monastic vows and was given the name Tikhon. He was consecrated Bishop of Lublin in 1897. In 1898, Bishop Tikhon was made Archbishop of the Islands and Alaska. As head of the Russian Orthodox Church in America he reorganized the diocese making it a diocese for all North America. While living in North America, Archbishop Tikhon became a citizen of the United States.
Archbishop Tikhon had two vicar bishops in the United States: Bishop Innocent (Pustynsky) in Alaska, and St. Raphael (Hawaweeny) in Brooklyn. In 1902, he established St. Nicholas Church in Brooklyn for the newly arriving Syrian Antiochian Orthodox immigrants. In June 1905, Archbishop Tikhon founded St. Tikhon of Zadonsk Monastery and Seminary in Pennsylvania.
In 1907, he returned to Russia, and was appointed Archbishop of Yaroslavl. He was transferred to Vilnius, Lithuania, in 1913. In 1917, he was elected the ruling bishop of Moscow by the Diocesan Congress of clergy and laity. Archbishop Tikhon was raised to the dignity of Metropolitan of Moscow. The same year, after an election as one of the three candidates for the reinstated Moscow Patriarchate, Metropolitan Tikhon had been selected for the position after a drawing of lots as the new Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church.
During the Russian Civil War the Patriarch was widely seen as anti-Bolshevik and many members of the Orthodox clergy were jailed or executed by the new regime. Patriarch Tikhon openly condemned the murder of the tsar's family, and protested against violent attacks by the Bolsheviks on the Church. During the famine in 1922 the Patriarch was accused of being a saboteur by the Communist government, for which he was imprisoned from April 1922 until June 1923. In 1924 the Patriarch fell ill and was hospitalized. He served the Divine Liturgy and died on the Feast of the Annunciation. He was buried on 12 April 1925 in Moscow. From the time of his death, he was widely considered a martyr or confessor for the faith.
Patriarch Tikhon was canonized a saint by the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia in 1981. He was later canonized by the Moscow Patriarchate in 1989. This later canonization process is generally considered an example of the thaw in Church-Soviet relations during the Glasnost era.
St. Tikhon's relics were believed lost, but in 1992 they were discovered in a concealed place in a Monastery and were found to be entirely incorrupt. Fifty bishops assembled to transfer his remains to the sanctuary of the main church at the Donskoy Monastery in Moscow.
Some quotes from St. Tikhon of Moscow;
"Devote all your energy to preaching the word of God and the truth of Christ, especially today, when unbelief and atheism are audaciously attacking the Church of Christ. May the God of peace and love be with all of you!"
"May God teach every one of us to strive for His truth, and for the good of the Holy Church, rather than something for our own sake."