June 2008 - St. Mitrophan

10 June (1900)

Tsi Chung was born into an Orthodox Christian family in China on 10 December, 1855. His father died when Tsi Chung was a child and he was raised by his grandmother Ekaterina and his mother Marina. Marina was a teacher at the Orthodox mission school for girls. The mission priest, charged his teacher Juren Long Yuan to take great care in educating Tsi Chung, in order to prepare him for the priesthood. Before reaching twenty years of age, he was appointed to the post of catechist for the Orthodox Mission. However he did not want to accept ordination, saying "how can a person with insufficient abilities and charity dare to accept this great responsibility?" But under the urging of his priest and the persuasion of his teacher, Tsi Chung obeyed and was ordained to the priesthood by St. Nikolai, bishop of Japan and he took the name Mitrophan.

As a priest, he assisted in translating and editing the Bible, the service books and writings of the Church Fathers into Chinese.  For fifteen years, he tirelessly served God and the faithful entrusted to his care. Fr. Mitrophan had a reputation as a very humble, quiet and peaceful person.

On the evening of June 1, 1900 rioters of the Boxer Rebellion burned the buildings of the Orthodox Mission. About seventy Orthodox Christians, hiding from danger, assembled in St Mitrophan's home. Seeing that some people were dispirited, he strengthened them with his prayers and advice to trust in God. Several times daily he went to offer prayers at the burned church. On the 10th of June, towards 10 in the evening, soldiers surrounded Fr. Mitrophan's home.

Fr. Mitrophan and many others, primarily women and children, were tortured. Fr. Mitrophan's family members were also tortured; they included his wife Tatiana and his three sons, Isaiah, Sergiy, a priest, and Ionn.  Fr. Mitrophan died under a date tree in his courtyard. His neighbors removed his body to the mission's hospice along with the remains of the other martyrs. In 1903, during the first commemoration of the new martyrs, their relics were placed under the altar in the martyrs' church. 

The Chinese government has recently permitted the Orthodox Mission to reopen and a resident priest now serves the spiritual needs of  a growing community of Orthodox believers in Beijing. 

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