Tikhon of Moscow

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Icon of St. Tikhon

Our father among the saints Tikhon of Moscow (Russian: Святитель Тихон, Патриарх Московский и всея Руси) (1865–1925), Enlightener of North America, was Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia (1917–1925).

While in America, he established his cathedral in New York City, and presided over a vast archdiocese, encouraging and authorizing many publications in the English language. Among these, he encouraged the translation of the Eastern liturgy into English by Isabel Florence Hapgood, and he wrote an extensive catechism based on the Nicene Creed and the Our Father. His feast day is celebrated on April 7 by New Calendar churches, on March 25 by Old Calendar churches; his glorification is celebrated on September 26, and he is also commemorated on the feast of the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia, celebrated on the Sunday nearest to January 25, which was the date of the martyrdom of Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev, the first Bishop of the new martyrs.

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Early life

St. Tikhon ( Vasily Ivanovich Bellavin; Russian: Василий Иванович Беллавин) was born on January 19, 1865. His father was Ioann Bellavin, a rural priest of the Toropetz district of the Pskov diocese. "From his early years he displayed a particular religious disposition, love for the Church as well as rare meekness and humility. ... From 1878 to 1883, Vasily 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 comrades, who often turned to him for explanations of lessons, especially for help in drawing up and correcting numerous compositions. Vasily was called 'bishop' and 'patriarch' by his classmates." [1]

"Following graduation from the Pskov Seminary and St. Petersburg Theological Academy, he becomes an instructor first at Pskov Theological Seminary (1888-91), then Kholm Theological Seminary (1891-97), where he quickly became Rector. Just prior to his transfer to Kholm he was tonsured a monk with the name Tikhon and ordained." [2]

Life and work after ordination

One of the first Orthodox bishops to do major work in North America, St. Tikhon went on to establish the "Diocese of the Aleutians and North America" after converting many people on the continent. Deemed an honorary citizen of the United States, he consecrated Orthodox Churches in America during the early 20th Century. The saint was also the primary founder of St. Tikhon's Orthodox Monastery (South Canaan, Pennsylvania), naming it for his heavenly patron, St. Tikhon of Zadonsk.

After returning to Russia in 1907, he continued to win the affection of thousands with his humble piety and loving affection. During World War I, he charitably aided displaced citizens, who flocked to him. He was also honored on November 5, 1917 by being elected Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church. St. Tikhon had to overcome much disunity within the Church.

St. Tikhon of Moscow

When the ungodly Bolshevik regime took control of the country, Church property was confiscated and the Russian Orthodox Church had to endure much repression. St. Tikhon openly condemned the killings of Czar's family in 1918 and protested against violent attacks by the Bolsheviks on the Church. At this time, he called Russian Orthodox Christians to unite and strengthen their practices. To avoid further persecution, he issued a message that clergy were not to make any political statements.

From 1922 to 1923, Patriarch Tikhon was imprisoned in Donskoy Monastery after he openly opposed the government's decree of being able to confiscate Church property. Thousands of Russian believers were shot. Upon being released, he assured the regime of his loyalty in an apparent attempt to relieve the harsh pressures on the Church. Despite his declaration of loyalty, he continued to enjoy the trust of the Orthodox community in Russia.

As persecution continued, he began to feel overwhelmed, and his strength and health declined. On Sunday April 5, 1925 he served his last Liturgy. He died giving the Sign of the Cross, saying, "Glory to Thee, O Lord, glory to Thee." He only crossed himself two times, dying before he could complete the third. After his death, he was considered a martyr for the faith.

In 1989, Patriarch Tikhon was glorified by the Church of Russia. This process is generally considered an example of the thaw in Church-Soviet relations in the Glasnost era.

Quotes by Saint Tikhon

"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."

"The spread of Christ's faith ought to be near and precious to the heart of every Orthodox Christian"


Troparion (Tone 1)

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!

Kontakion (Tone 3)

Today the assembly of New Martyrs
Stands together with us in the Church
And together we raise a festive song
Celebrating the uncovering of the relics of our Hierarch Father Tikhon
Who defeated the enemy and preserved the Faith
While protecting the flock entrusted to him.
For he ever prays for us all
That we may never be deprived of the Love of God.

See also

Succession box:
Tikhon of Moscow
Preceded by:
Gideon (Pokrovsky)
Bishop of Lublin
Succeeded by:
German (Ivanov)
Preceded by:
Nicholas (Ziorov)
Bishop of the Aleutian Islands and Alaska
Succeeded by:
Platon (Rozhdestvensky)
Preceded by:
Jacob (Pyatnitsky)
Archbishop of Yaroslavl
Succeeded by:
Agafangel (Preobrazhensky)
Preceded by:
Agafangel (Preobrazhensky)
Archbishop of Vilnius
Succeeded by:
Eleutherius (Bogoyavlensky)
Preceded by:
Macarius II
Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia
Succeeded by:
Sergius I (Stragorodsky)
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Sources and external links