Patriarch of Moscow and Enlightener of North America
How can St. Tikhon intercede for us?
St. Tikhon is known for his perseverance and resilience in times of hardship as he taught the faith to those around him. Throughout our struggles in life, we can pray to St. Tikhon to intercede for us as he once interceded for those around him.
The Life of St. Tikhon
Saint Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow and Apostle to America was born as Vasily Ivanovich Belavin on January 19, 1865. From 1878 to 1883, Vasily studied at the Pskov Theological Seminary. The modest seminarian was tender and affectionate by nature. He was fair-haired and tall of stature. His fellow students liked and respected him for his piety, brilliant progress in studies, and constant readiness to help comrades, who often turned to him for explanations of lessons, especially for help in drawing up and correcting numerous compositions. Even at seminary his classmates would call him “bishop” and “patriarch”.
After being raised to the rank of archimandrite at the Kholm Theological Seminary in 1892, Archimandrite Tikhon was consecrated Bishop of Lublin on October 19, 1897. Soon after returning to Kholm, Bishop Tikhon served his community so well that he was well liked not only by the Russian population, but also Lithuanians and Poles. On September 14, 1898, Bishop Tikhon was made Bishop of the Aleutians and Alaska. As head of the Orthodox Church in America, Bishop Tikhon was a zealous laborer in the Lord’s vineyard.
He did much to promote the spread of Orthodoxy, and to improve his vast diocese. He reorganized the diocesan structure, and changed its name from “Diocese of the Aleutians and Alaska” to “Diocese of the Aleutians and North America” in 1900. Both clergy and laity loved their archpastor, and held him in such esteem that the Americans made Archbishop Tikhon an honorary citizen of the United States.
In his time in America, St. Tikhon did much to establish Orthodoxy in America. Serving as Archbishop and with vicar bishops Bishop Innocent (Pustynsky) in Alaska and Saint Raphael (Hawaweeny) in Brooklyn, St. Tikhon established and consecrated many churches, monasteries, and cathedrals. Two such examples are Saint Nicholas Cathedral in NY and Saint Nicholas in Brooklyn.
After returning to Russia in 1907 and serving in Lithuania through the first world war, Saint Tikhon was known to be a friendly, communicative, and wise archpastor. He spoke simply to his subordinates, never resorting to a peremptory or overbearing tone. When he had to reprimand someone, he did so in a good-natured, sometimes joking manner, which encouraged the person to correct his mistakes.
After being raised to the dignity of Metropolitan on August 15, 1917 in Russia, St. Tikhon faced further adversity as a Metropolitan as the Bolshevik revolution continued. His exceptionally high moral and religious authority helped him to unite the scattered and enfeebled flock. At a crucial time for the church, his unblemished name was a bright beacon pointing the way to the truth of Orthodoxy. In his messages, he called on people to fulfill the commandments of Christ, and to attain spiritual rebirth through repentance. His irreproachable life was an example to all.
On Sunday, April 5, 1925, he served his last Liturgy, and died two days later. Almost a million people came to say farewell to the Patriarch. The large cathedral of the Donskoy Monastery in Moscow could not contain the crowd, which overflowed the monastery property into the square and adjacent streets. Saint Tikhon, the eleventh Patriarch of Moscow, was primate of the Russian Church for seven and a half years. Perhaps the saint’s own words can best sum up his life: “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.”
Feast Day: April 7
- How did St. Tikhon persevere through his trials and tribulations?What are some struggles we currently face and how can we learn from St. Tikhon’s example?
- Even through his traveling of many foriegn lands, St. Tikhon always became an active member of his current community. Recall a time in an unfamiliar environment, how did you familiarize yourself with it and how can you make others feel welcome?
- Even as a Metropolitan, St. Tikhon was known for his approachability and humility which allowed for the laypeople to deepen their faith through discussions with clergy. What are some steps we can take to become approachable representatives of the faith to fellow college students?
Learn his Troparion
Let us praise Tikhon, the patriarch of all Russia, and enlightener of North America, an ardent follower of the Apostolic traditions, and good pastor of the Church of Christ. Who was elected by divine providence, and laid down his life for his sheep. Let us sing to him with faith and hope, and ask for his hierarchical intercessions: Keep the church in Russia in tranquility, and the church in North America in peace. Gather her scattered children into one flock, bring to repentance those who have renounced the True Faith, preserve our lands from civil strife, and entreat God’s peace for all people!
Pray to him
Saint Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow and Enlightener of America, continue to enlighten us today as we face our daily struggles. May you teach us to be kindhearted ministers of the faith and persevere through our struggles no matter the circumstances. Intercede for us Saint Tikhon, that as you once said, we may strive for His Truth and for the good of His Holy Church, rather than something for our own sake. Amen.
St. Raphael of Brooklyn
St. John Maximovitch