Philip II of Moscow
Our father among the saints hieromartyr Philip II of Moscow (+ 1569) was one of a few Metropolitans of Moscow (1566-1568) who dared to openly contradict lay authorities. His memory is celebrated three times a year: on January 9, on July 3 (translation of his relics), and on October 5 (Synaxis of the Hierarchs of Moscow).
He was born, in the year 1507, Theodore Stephanovich Kolychev into one of the noblest boyar families of Muscovy, in the city of Galich (in present-day Kostroma Oblast). The Moscow Great Prince Basil III, the father of Ivan the Terrible, brought young Theodore into the court, but he was not attracted to court life. Conscious of its vanity and sinfulness, Theodore all the more deeply immersed himself in the reading of books and visiting the churches of God.
It is said that since childhood he was on friendly terms with Ivan IV of Russia, but the young prince's sincere devotion to him, promising him a great future in government service, could not deter Theodore from seeking the Heavenly City. Theodore felt intensely in his soul the words of the Savior: "No man can serve two masters" (Mt. 6:24). Praying fervently to the Moscow wonderworkers, and without bidding farewell to his relatives, he secretly left Moscow, and for a while he hid himself away from the world in the village of Khizna, near Lake Onega, earning his livelihood as a shepherd.
(According to other accounts, he was involved in the conspiracy of Prince Andrey of Staritsa against Elena Glinskaya and, when their plans were discovered, escaped to a monastery).
His thirst for ascetic deeds led him to the renowned Solovetsky Monastery on the White Sea, in 1538. There he fulfilled very difficult obediences: he chopped firewood, dug the ground, and worked in the mill. After a year and a half of testing, the igumen Alexis tonsured him, giving him the monastic name Philip and entrusting him in obedience to the Elder Jonah Shamina, a converser with St Alexander of Svir (August 30).
Eleven years later, Philip himself was made igumen of the monastery. During his term in office, they constructed two cathedrals, a brick-yard, many water mills and storehouses, and a network of canals connecting 72 lakes. It is said that Philip took part in all these toils together with other monks. Most of Philip's projects in Solovetsky survive to this day. The monastery experienced a spiritual revival. A new monastic rule was adopted to regulate life at the monastery.
St Philip often withdrew to a desolate wilderness spot for quiet prayer, which was later known as the Philippov wilderness.
In Moscow, Tsar Ivan the Terrible heard about the indefatigable monk and fondly remembered the Solovetsky hermit from childhood. The tsar asked him to fill the vacant metropolitan see in Moscow. For a long time the saint refused to assume the great burden of the primacy of the Russian Church. He did not sense any spiritual affinity with Ivan. Finally, Philip agreed on the condition that Ivan would abolish the Oprichnina (secret police). In recompense, he promised not to meddle with the tsar's domestic affairs. On June 25, 1566, Philip was enthroned as Metropolitan of Moscow and all Russia.
After a short interlude, however, Ivan the Terrible persisted with committing murders under the aegis of Oprichnina. Ivan saw the Oprichnina as a form of a monastic brotherhood, serving God with weapons and military deeds. The Oprichniki were required to dress in monastic garb and attend long and tiring church services, lasting from 4 to 10 o'clock in the morning. From church they went to the trapeza, and while the Oprichniki ate, the tsar stood beside them. The Oprichniki gathered leftover food from the table and distributed it to the poor at the doorway of the trapeza. The pseudo-monasticism of Ivan the Terrible, a most grievous oppression over Russia, tormented St Philip, who considered it impossible to mix the earthly and the heavenly, serving both the Cross and the sword.
After the metropolitan publicly refused to bless Ivan's massacre of Novgorod, he was arrested during a liturgy at the Cathedral of Dormition and immured at the Otroch Monastery of Tver. In November 1568, the tsar summoned the Holy Synod, which had Philip deposed.
A year later, he was strangled by the tsar's minion, Malyuta Skuratov. As if aware of his approaching death, Philip had asked to receive communion three days earlier. At first, his relics were committed to the earth there at the monastery, beyond the church altar. Later, they were transferred to the Solovetsky Monastery (on August 11, 1591) and from there to Moscow (July 3, 1652). In 1652, Patriarch Nikon persuaded Tsar Alexis to bring his relics to Moscow, where he was proclaimed a saint later that year.
Initially, the memory of St Philip was celebrated by the Russian Church on December 23, the day of his martyric death. In 1660, the celebration was transferred to January 9.
Philip II of Moscow
|Metropolitan of Moscow