Saint Tikhon, Patriarch and Confessor of Moscow, Enlightener of North America
Born: Vasilii Vasil’evich Belavin in Toropets, Pskov Territory (Russia), on Jan. 19, 1865 (O.S.), third son of the priest Vasilii Ivanovich Belavin.
- Baccaulareat, Pskov Theological Seminary (Russia), 1884
- Master of Theology, St. Peterburg Theological Academy (Russia), 1888.
- Episcopacy, Oct. 19, 1897 (O.S.)
- 1888-91 – Instructor in Dogmatics and Moral Theology, Pskov Theological Seminary.
- 1892-97 – Superintendent (later Rector), Chelm Theological Seminary.
- 1897-98 – Bishop of Lublin (Poland).
- 1898-1907 – Bishop of the Aleutian Islands and Alaska; after 1905, Archbishop.
- 1907-13 – Archbishop of Yaroslavl (Russia)
- 1913-17 – Archbishop of Vilna (Lithuania)
- 1917-24 – Patriarch of Moscow and All Rus’
Died: Apr. 27, 1925 (O.S.)
From an early age his father dreamt of his future greatness; he entered the theological academy a year younger than normal, and was affectionately nicknamed “the Patriarch” by his colleagues. Outwardly serious, he liked to joke all the time. He was a popular boy, humble, pious, kind, warm, respectful, unaffected, gentle, simple, witty, and always willing to help others with their lessons. He was appointed Librarian of the Student Collection, and took a active part in all areas of student life, while shunning the temptations of youth. “Among his comrades he enjoyed an indisputable authority. His comrades valued his natural intelligence, goodness, and kindness,” and were unwittingly drawn to him. He completed his program at age 23, in 1888, still a laymen — a rarity in those days — as a Candidate, enjoying the right to receive the degree of Master of Theology without having to take additional oral examination — and returned to home to Pskov.
In the Pskov Seminary he taught dogmatics and moral theology for three years, giving “friendly attention to the needs of the pupils and his helpful support in their conflicts with the authorities” — rare in a day of “cold formalism,” and living very simply in the mezzanine of a wooden house near Nikola Sousokha Church, in a very friendly atmosphere. There, he was accepted as an “authority even among those who not so long ago had known him as a student.” All were sad when, at age 26 in 1891, he finally petitioned Bp. Germogen to receive monastic tonsure and moved away. In the Seminary Chapel “he professed himself with full consciousness and determination, entered on the new life, evidently considering himself not disposed for family duties and desiring to consecrate himself entirely to the service of the Church.”
In March of 1892 he was transfered to the Chelm Seminary as superintendent. In May he briefly became rector of the Kazan Theological School, then, already an archimandrite, returned in June to Chelm as rector, and exhibited great administrative abilities, tact learned by experience, and an easy disposition and charm. He improved the students’ discipline and living conditions, and introduced daily liturgical services for them. During Advent and Lent he preached ethnical sermons to them in the Church of St. Theodosius of Chernigov He also assumed wider responsibilities in the Archdiocese of Chelm/Warsaw: as personal assistant to Abp. Flavian, Dean of Monasteries, President of the Chelm division of the Diocesan School Council, President of the Orthodox Brotherhood, Censor for the Brotherhood’s publications, and led “a many-sided and fruitful ministry,” thanks to his “great abilities and nobility of soul.” His “gentle, unprovocative ways,” also helped him work among the majority Polish Catholic population in a region torn away into the Unia 300 years before and partially reclaimed for Orthodoxy a mere quarter-century previously.
His reputation grew steadily in the diocese, to the point that late in 1896, Abp. Flavian nominated him for the newly-vacant Vicarate of Lublin. Since Tikhon had not yet quite attained the canonical age of 33, the Holy Synod refused, and the archbishop went without help until the archimandrite’s birthday, when he again petitioned the Synod. On Oct. 19, 1897 (O.S.) he was consecrated to the holy episcopacy. Lifting the banner of Orthodoxy and Russian ethnicity, he steadily gained a reputation as a respected peacemaker and unifier, not prone to using force but issuing “a gracious call from his kind heart, and helping hand, and happiness.” He celebrated solemnly on Sundays and feastdays, and Saturday services before the beloved wonderworking Our Lady of Chelm icon. In eleven months as bishop, he made over 120 pastoral visits, preaching every time, always before a large congregation.
When word came of his appointment on Sept. 14, 1898 (O.S.), to the Diocese of the Aleutian Islands and Alaska — in actuality, all of North America — tears flowed in Chelm in abundance; even Abp. Flavian’s successor, Ieronim, is said to have wept publicly when informed that he was losing such an effective assistant. Crowds even larger than normal flocked to his final services, and many delegations appeared to pay their respects. “Even the Jews,” records his archdeacon, “were amazed at why they would take from Chelm ‘such a good Bishop.'” There was, however, considerable wisdom in the Holy Synod’s decision, for the vast majority of the Orthodox flock in America shared the same background as the faithful of Chelm among whom he had enjoyed such great success. For the movement from Unia to Orthodoxy to continue, a leader of Tikhon’s proven abilities was clearly required.
For his farewell liturgy in the Chelm Archdiocese, celebrated on Oct. 11th, concelebrated with priests from across the region; at the end of his farewell talk, he bowed to the earth, asking forgiveness, and the people wept aloud. In the evening after boarding a train for St. Petersburg, distraut people from all walks of life sought to block his departure by lying down on the tracks; when he begged them to let him depart in peace, they sorrowfully obeyed. The bishop stopped en route in Pskov to visit his former colleagues, and in Klin to see his mother and kinsfolk. He spent Oct. 26-Nov. 15 in the northern capital, preparing for his new ministry, speaking with anyone who might be able to teach him something about his new flock. He learned that he was succeeding a very popular hierarch, who had turned around a failing enterprise and given optimism to his flock.
Career in North America.
The American Mission was rapidly expanding, while Russian Government funds supporting it were remaining static. He would need to grow into a very delicate role as the de facto representative of all of Eastern Orthodoxy in the New World, at a time when that Church was attracting the attention of many denominations seeking rapprochement and friendship. Simultaneously, he would be viewed as the representative of Holy Russia (despite the presence of a formal diplomatic corps), the “icon,” as it were, of the friendly relations which had traditionally existed between the two peoples from the time of the Civil War and the amicable sale of Alaska in 1867. He would have to weigh his every word and action for their potential effect. Indeed, filling the shoes of Bp. Nicholas’ shoes would be a formidable task for the young hierarch.
At 8:15 P.M. on Nov. 15, 1898, Bp. Tikhon, filled with anxiety, boarded a train bound for Warsaw. The Assistant Ober Procurator, K. Sabler, Academy Professor P. I. Zhukovich, A. P. Lopukhin, I. S. Pal’mov, and other former colleagues — diocesan clergy, seminary professors, and students — were hand at the station to see him off; of each he asked forgiveness and to each he gave his blessing. The bishop’s younger brother, Mikhail Belavin, who would serve as his personal secretary, and two cantors, Venedikt Ieronimovich Turkevich and N. F. Grivskii (who had come over from San Francisco as an escort), accompanied him to his new post in the New World. Their route took them through Verzhbolobo, Eidkunen, Berlin, Paris, and La Havre. In Berlin, he met with the V.Rev. A. P. Mal’tsev of the Embassy Church and the diplomatic staff; he did likewise in Paris, celebrating vigil for the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple. The Champagne sailed at noontime, on what was destined to be a smooth passage.
The Russian party docked in New York on Nov. 30/Dec. 12th, but was forced by statutes to spend the first night in quarantine, and a large crowd of clergy and laity returned home in considerable disappointment. The Orthodox faithful of North America were most anxious to size up this new hierarch whose task was truly formidable. Early next morning the Arab Orthodox of the Greater New York Area were prominent in the crowd at the foot of the gangplank. Following short words of welcome by the Russian General Consul V. A. Teplov, and Mr. Peters, heading a delegation of intellectuals from the newspaper Russkaia Beseda, one of their poets offered an Arabic panegyric to their new “Sayedna,” which their pastor, Archimandrite Raphael Hawaweeny rendered into Russian for his benefit. At the conclusion of his translation, Fr. Raphael, with Fr. Ephrem, and Archimandrite Anatolii (late of Sitka), escorted Bp. Tikhon into Manhattan to the Russian Cathedral for a prayer service of thanksgiving. The apprehension over this transition was present, if diplomatically veiled, in the official welcoming speech next morning, delivered by the Cathedral Dean, Fr. Alexander Hotovitzky:
You have now put your episcopal hand on the rudder … O Master! There are many wild branches in the vineyard which the Lord has made your lot: childish whims and the stubborness of human hearts — and the whims of children who lack their father’s kindness … Fatithlessness preys on the people’s hearts here; our brothers, secluded by the heterodox milieu and oppressed by need, have fallen here, members of the holy Church. The Uniate hosts are blinded and scorn truth and veracity; for them, Orthodoxy is hateful! … And in Alaska, there are the fervent tears of the unfairly-treated Orthodox sons of our Church! … A difficult and sorrowful path, but is it not with such that the battle you will get your satisfaction? The Lord, who cares for all will not leave your zeal, love, cares in vain, but will allow us to see the moment when your flock will, in retun, for the care you show it, call your name blessed. Then the Lord who cares for all will accept their prayers, and, in return for the moments and spiritual difficulties and physical ills, will crown you with a heavenly reward … where the labors are great, the crown is great too! May the Lord give you strength in this new apostolic labor!
Following an enthusiastic response: “‘May Thy Kingdom come!’ That is, may Orthodoxy spread in this land of religious freedom to which those enslaved in false obedience to the Pope in the Old Country are constantly streaming; our common task is to allow ‘the inner powers of our soul to go out to meet God’s mercy!'” — Fr. Raphael stated the question most clearly. Speaking on behalf of “the whole twenty-thousand Orthodox Syro-Arab colony, both in New York and the whole United States,” he dutifully pledged the community’s complete loyalty, then asked that, in return, His Grace “continue to show all of us Orthodox Syro-Arabs who live within your divinely-protected Diocese, the same maternal love, paternal care, and archpastoral attention that your Most Reverend predecessor showed us…” Responding in equally concrete terms, Bp. Tikhon vowed that he would be “equally well-disposed to all Orthodox of whatever nationality, for Orthodoxy is catholic; if in Russia we do not experience that catholicity, so to speak, it is because all Orthodox there are Russians. But here, outside of Russia, where under the roof of an Orthodox Church the Russian, the Greek, the Arab, etc., are all straining equally — the concept of catholicity is fully clear for us.” Then blessing the congregation, he departed for the rectory for a joyous, festive tea, and to receive representatives of the brotherhoods, the parishes, and a few Americans. The new hierarch made a very good impression. Next day he received such notable clergymen as Frs. Alexis Toth, M. Balog, and Gr. Grushka.
On his first full morning “on the job,” Bp. Tikhon celebrated his first Divine Liturgy in the makeshift Russian cathedral and ordained a deacon to serve there, making up for Bp. Nikolai’s strange thriftiness in making do without one (in the Russian ritual, a hierarchical liturgy without one or more deacons is virtually unthinkable — if not, indeed, “undoable”). Preaching on the pericope of the Pharisees who withhold the keys of the kingdom to those desirous of entering, he warned that the Russians, without becoming proud, must realize that God will judged them if they fail to proclaim the truth of Orthodoxy to those in the country where they now lived who find themselves, unknowingly, lost in errors. Zeal, he declared, is absolutely required of New World Orthodox Christians. Next morning he demonstrated his determination to serve all Orthodox equally, by celebrating his second Liturgy in the St. Nicholas Syro-Arab Church, where he ordained another deacon. Having ministered to the largest Orthodox community in the major port of entry for all immigrant groups, Bp. Tikhon, accompanied by Fr. Hotovitzky, set out on a cross-country tour which would end at his San Francisco See. As he left New York, the bishop’s left the distinct impression among clergy and laity alike that Providence had sent them a man who would not seek his own good, but would continue and build upon all the good which Bp. Nikolai had done, that the Orthodox Church in America would, as they had hoped but scarcely dared to believe, go “from glory to glory.”
After touring Washington, DC, he crossed Pennsylvania on Saturday, celebrated Liturgy in Allegheny and ordaining a local man to priesthood, then visiting with clergy gathered from as far away as Osceola and Cleveland. In Chicago Monday morning, he spent a few hours at the church, visiting with Fr. John Kochurov, whose relatives he had met in Russia, then proceeded fairly swiftly and directly for the coast. From the ambo in San Francisco’s Holy Trinity Cathedral, where he arrived on Dec. 11/23rd, Bp. Tikhon sounded he major theme of his episcopacy. Citing Hos. 2.23, “a people not my people,” he discussed the relationship of bishop to people in biblical and patristic terms — as the marital relationship between husband and wife. He invited the clergy to serve as his advisors and the people to make full use of their gifts as members of the Body of Christ. The immediate impression was the happy, if disarming, one of a completely atypical Russian prelate, most unpompous and completely unpretentious . In his office, Bp. Tikhon spoke simply and with humor and tact. He reproved lovingly and with a disarming air of jocularity. He was utterly simple and genuinely friendly. People responded to him with undisguised love. He was accessible and responsive to the people’s needs, meticulous about details, yet able to grasp “the big picture.” Anything that could be blessed he blessed — and as expeditiously as possible. He needed this, for difficult steps were clearly required if the Diocese were to be stabilized. No longer anyone’s assistant, but with the “buck stopping on his desk,” he rapidly matured into a most able administrator under very touchy circumstances. Above all, he had to inspire the often parsimonious parishioners shoulder responsibility for their own churches, to be weaned from their accustomed subsidies. This meant countering unrelenting Uniate propaganda that the “Moskaly” were richly endowed, whereas in fact, available funding fell fall short of allowing anyone — much less everyone — a “free ride.” The formation of new missions, almost always the result of mass defections from the Unia, might well have been expected to slow if subsidies were cut and made contingent upon the parishioners’ pledge of adequate financial support for their pastor — but, in fact, this policy succeeded in rallying the converts, gave them a sense of belonging and responsibility. This, in turn made it possible to ask that they share responsibility for the upkeep of institutions outside their local parish which served the larger needs of the entire Mission — the Seminary in Minneapolis, the proposed Monastery, and the Cathedral in New York City. The exceedingly hard nut of parochialism was successfully cracked, and naturally-divisive people learned to live together in peace and agreement.
The year 1899 was very full for the new bishop. From late April through early June, he crisscrossed the continent, becoming acquainted with eighteen communities. In Minneapolis he spent time with his seminarians. He held conferences with the clergy. He presided at a convention of the Russian Brotherhoods Organization, and enjoined them to practice true brotherhood. Returning to New York May 20-22, he celebrated with the Syro-Arabs even before his own Russians. En route to Galveston, TX, on the return leg west, Tikhon made the best of a layover in Houston, to invite representative of the small colony of Christian Arabs to discuss their spiritual needs with him. Before leaving the bishop’s quarters late at night, a poet delivered a florid, impromptu poem expressing his people’s “profound love for the Archpastor of all Orthodox” in America. Late June through early September, he dedicated to a 9,637-mile visitation of the largest and most accessible settlements in seaboard Alaska. In Sitka’s St. Michael Cathedral, he communed with the spirit of his great predecessor, Abp. Innocent Veniaminov, venerating the altar cross with which he had blessed the faithful, celebrating on the antimension which he had signed, standing on the eagle run which his daughter Polyxenia had woven with her own hands. Making a point of visiting the Serbian community in Jackson, CA, he was welcomed by Fr. Sebastian Dabovich, the first American-born Orthodox priest, with the following words: “May you and this little-cultivated field enjoy forever that blessing of the Apostles, the success of the great Hellenic hierarchs, the power of the Syrian martyrs, the prayers of the Russian monks, and with them, the Serbian miracle-worker, Bishop Savva. Amen.” In December he again headed east to celebrate the holidays in New York and to inspect final plans for the building churches there and in Chicago. On the day after Christmas he honored Archimandrite Raphael’s request and ordained Michael Husan to the diaconate and assigned him to the Lowell, MA, church; on the eve of his departure west, he stood as godfather for a Syrian baby.
Following his first full year in America, Bp. Tikhon settled into a more realistic, somewhat less-taxing, if not perfectly-balanced schedule of alternate-year visitations to Alaska on the one hand and the rest of the Mission on the other. Holy Week and Pascha were kept in his cathedral, then it was time to travel. In May of 1900, he set sail for Alaska for 78 days, becoming the first bishop in fifty-five years to penetrate some parts of its vast hinterland. Of much of his 7,300-mile trip, an Alaskan veteran wrote: “The inconveniences of travel in this region often oppress even the local people who are used to them. How much more difficult must our travels have been for the Bishop, a novice. But not only did the Bishop never express fatigue or inconvenience, he even inspired cheerfulness in us by his good-natured attitude toward the various inconveniences.” Aliutukhta, as the Natives called him, treated them as though they were his own children, at with them and like them from a common pot, taught them, offered them gifts, administered medicine as he visited the sick, and most memorably celebrated spectacular services for them. In the spring of 1901 he rode the far more comfortable rails east, the highlight of which was the blessing of the cornerstone for the new St. Nicholas Cathedral. Increasingly he became an apologist for the Orthodox faith, countering false claims by the Uniates, even as he consecrated newly-built and renovated churches for those who had left the Roman ranks. He spent a good deal of time in the Greater Pittsburgh Area which was rapidly expanding as a center of Orthodoxy; Galician Uniates were returning to the ancestral faith in large numbers, Serbs and Arabs were requesting pastors. In May the Allegheny Syro-Arabs held a dinner in his honor; the bishop repaid their hospitality by giving each a flower along with his blessing. In August, after consecrating the Pan-Orthodox church in Seattle in a mixture of English, Greek, and Church Slavic, he first crossed the border into Canada. Despite serious leg injuries sustained in a buggy accident in the prairies, he boarded ship in September for a brief sortie to Sitka, knowing that in 1902 he would have to attend to East coast matters.
By 1902 Bp. Tikhon was more than ever convinced that San Francisco must yield to New York as the diocesan see. Work began on providing him a permanent residence in the city. Construction of St. Nicholas Cathedral had not met the contract deadline following a rugged winter, so the planned consecration was postponed until fall, and the neighboring parishes received a far larger portion of their bishop’s time than anticipated. Diocesan matters in the East continued pressing, so for the first time in history, hierarchical services were celebrated in and around New York during the early part of Great Lent. During the second week of Lent Fr. Raphael and his fellow clergy were pleased to meet and welcome into their midst Fr. Alexander Nemolovsky, a man destined to play an important part in their lives within several decades, newly-arrived from Russia via Bremen on March 2nd, and got to know him a bit before he set off on March 27th for his first assignment in Catasaqua, PA. On the second Sunday in Lent, Bp. Tikhon visited his Syro-Arab flock in Brooklyn. Fr. Raphael just returned from Mexico, reported on the status of the church building fund which, despite successful collections across the country, still fell short to begin work. Fr.Raphael joined the bishop’s entourage for a trip to the Philadelphia Shipyards, where Tikhon blessed the newly-completed Russian warship Retvizan, whose crew had been most generous to the American Mission during the five years of construction.
Returning to New York — and his new apartment on E. 97th St. — in the autumn of 1902, Bp. Tikhon consecrated two St. Nicholas Churches, the first, a renovated building at 299 Pacific St. in Brooklyn for the Syro-Arabs on Sunday, Oct. 27, 1902, and the second, the long-delayed future cathedral, for the Russians, on Nov. 10th. To Fr. Raphael’s flock he said:
We rejoice because we are your brothers in faith. We have with you one Lord, one faith, one system of sacraments, and, here in America, one hierarchical principle. We rejoice also because, just as in your homeland of Syria, the Russian people cooperate with you in preserving your faith and nationality, so too, here, we have helped in building your church. Here is a donation from our most pious Emperor, and a mite from the spiritual authorities and local Russian people. Therefore your church is near and dear to us as well. Let today’s celebration of consecration bring us even closer together and bind us with the unbreakable bonds of faith and love for Christ Jesus, to the greater glory of the Orthodox Church and to our common good.
News of the sudden death of his brother Michael in San Francisco on Dec. 16th rapidly changed his plans. He would return to San Francisco for a month, then spend Lent and Easter on the East coast, and attend to the remaining scheduled church consecrations. He petitioned the Holy Synod for a leave-of-absence to accompany his brother’s body home for burial, to comfort his aged and now grieving mother in Toropets (she soon afterwards died), and to conduct some official business (including participation in the canonization of St. Seraphim of Sarov). Permission arrived on Feb. 24, 1903, the Holy Synod granted Bp. Tikhon . En route to New York, he consecrated, doubtless with a sense of relief after interminable planning and one year of actual construction, the Chicago Russians’ magnificent church building. and the bishop with a sense of relief consecrated it. In May, he accepted back into the fold of Orthodoxy the Uniate community in Mayfield, PA, a community very soon destined to prove pivotal in an event of surpassing importance for the entire Mission — the acquisition of farmland on which to establish St. Tikhon’s Monastery. On May 13th he boarded the S.S. Gascogne, leaving behind a melancholy flock. As one priest wrote:
In him we had a Guardian Angel, protecting and encouraging us in the darkest moments when the ignorance of the people whom we were called upon to save, and the continuous intrigues of the enemies of Orthodoxy contrived to dash our brightest hopes and to frustrate our efforts — it was such a comfort to know that in difficult moments, our leader was with us.
In July they were further disheartened to learn that Bp. Tikhon had been elected to membership in the Holy Synod, which obliged him to spend the next full year in St. Petersburg. Pride in their honor bestowed on their bishop could not offset fears for their own future, a numerous telegrams were dispatched across the Atlantic, entreating he authorities some day soon to send him back. While serving for eight months on the Synod, Bp. Tikhon did not abandon his distant flock. On Dec. 14, 1903, he served as chief celebrant in the consecration of Archimandrite Innocent (Pustynsky) as Vicar of Alaska, and secured permission to consecrate Archimandrite Raphael (Hawaweeny) as Vicar of Brooklyn and the Syro-Arab Mission. That act would be performed upon his return to New York. In August, the bishop proposed to the clergy that they undertake expansion of the Minneapolis Seminary.
On the first Sunday after his returning on Jan. 11, 1904, he declared:
I have placed myself and my path in life in God’s care, and I rejoice that in the New Year I shall have to cross the old field of my ministry — that I am among you again after an eight-month separation. But while I was away physically, in spirit I remained always with you, and my link with my flock never broke. Even in Russia, I occupied myself with your concerns; I was an advocate for your needs, and prayed constantly for you whenver I served — for you, the flock which God has given me. I have gratifying witnesses that you, too, did not forget me in my absence.
He turned next to the future:
Let us … pray, labor, and work out our salvation, carrying each others’ burdens! It is not to support that former, old order of ecclesiastical life — that so-called spiritual “conservatism” — that we are called by the profound words of today’s epistle reading: “But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them” (2 Tim. 3:14). Rather, this scripture speaks only of “remaining unshaken and faithful in preaching Christ’s truth” — something that fans of innovations often accuse … of amounting to stagnation and lifelessness.
On Feb. 29th, Bps. Tikhon and Innocent consecrated a third hierarch for the North American Church. By May, Tikhon was back in San Francisco. On Mar. 25, 1905, “Greek Independence Day,” Tikhon ordained a Greek, Michael Andreades to the holy priesthood. After celebrating his last Pascha in San Francisco, Bp. Tikhon bade farewell to the people of Holy Trinity Cathedral on May 3rd, boarded the 11 P.M. Southern Union Pacific Railroad train for Chicago. Several hours after his departure, a cable arrived in San Francisco from St. Petersburg, informing Archbishop Tikhon of his elevation. An official ukase from the Tsar arrived two days later, citing “his extraordinary zealous service and special labors.” In Chicago on Sunday Sept. 18th, the new Archbishop elevated Fr. Sebastian Dabovich to the rank of archimandrite, and named him official Head of the Serbian Mission, destined to follow Bp. Raphael into the episcopacy. The Serbs thanked Tikhon for all the care and help he had shown their people in America. On May 20th, he presided at a Clergy Conference in Cleveland’s St. Theodosius Church. On May 26-27th, he visited Mayfield, PA, to inspect several parcels of land offered by their owners to house the Archdiocese’s first monastery and an orphanage. On the first, the zealous Rusyn farmers had already erected a simple chapel, dedicated to the Nativity of the Theotokos, in which he conducted a prayer service, and whose construction he approved of on close inspection. Further examination of the parcel, however, showed it isolated from emergency services and its soil too poor to support a large monastic community, so the Archbishop politely elected to examine a second farm, offered by another group of Rusyns, before making a decision. The second site was larger, more scenic, less isolated, and had possibilities for expansion through the purchase of an adjoining farm. Clearly favoring this location, Tikhon faced the East and invoked God’s blessing on the proposed deal, then entrusted final negotiations to Hieromonk Arsenii (Chagovtsev), the future Abbot. On the buggy ride back to Mayfield, they mused about the future and stopped often to admire the beautiful Pennsylvania landscape. On Aug.10, 1905, the Holy Synod of Russia authorized plans for a Seminary in America (Ukase No. 7806) In September, Basil M. Bensin, a graduate of the Moscow Theological Seminary and veteran teacher in several Russian seminaries, arrived in Minneapolis to organize the project. On Sept. 20th, Bp. Raphael headed the delegation of diplomats, clergy, and Consistory personnel which awaited the Archbishop at the railroad station in New York, and was first to speak in the Cathedral following a prayer service of thanksgiving. Tikhon emphasized that the See’s transfer to New York was intended not to serve anyone’s advantage, but to better serve the entire Mission’s needs. Beginning Oct. 11th, Abp. Tikhon began a three-day visit to St. Tikhon’s Monastery and Orphanage, now an accomplished task, stopping first in Wilkes-Barre to visit Fr. Toth. Fr. Arsenii in full monastic garb and the first two novices in cassocks came out to meet his covered two-seat carriage as it approached mid-afternoon. They performed the appropriate full prostration before their superior. The first two orphans to be taken in also approached, together with their supervisor bearing bread and salt. After a prayer service in the simple house-church, Fr. Arsenii pointed out that all of the great monasteries in history had begun with a single monk. America’s first cloister was ideally located in a perfect location, beautiful and tranquil, where monastics can satisfy them with thoughts about God and love him as he commanded humankind to do. They will also love the land they till and the orphans for whom they care. Tikhon was assigned a small room on the second floor above the orphans’ quarters. He found the facilities better than many established orphanages in Russia and well-repaired, given their condition upon purchase. He next inspected the separate house for the monks, examining the novices’ reading material in each cell. He prayed at the site of the future church, where a cross had been erected, and in the cemetery. After dinner with the children, he retired to his own cell. Fr. Arsenii celebrated vespers and compline at 6:30 P.M., after which the company began reciting the Jesus Prayer in silence. Morning prayers, nocturns, and matins began at 4:30 A.M., followed by Liturgy at 8:00 A.M., attended by some of the local farmers. He and Fr. Aleksei Boguslavskii spent the rest of the morning trout fishing, then dined at noon with the monks as the lives of the saints were read. At 4:00 P.M., Fr. Iliia Zotikov arrived from New York to instruct the community in the proper execution of monastic chant, and led the singing of vespers. In the evening the Archbishop discussed building plans with Fr. Arsenii. On Thursday, following morning services, Tikhon chanted the Akathistos to St. Tikhon, and prayed for the new institution. After lunch and prayers, he departed for the railroad station. After ministrations in the troubled parishes of Eastern Pennsylvania and a consecration in Ansonia, CT, Abp. Tikhon returned to St. Tikhon’s with Bp. Raphael to consecrate the new church on May 17/30, 1906. An exhausted Tikhon vacationed at the Monastery in July, serving Sundays in the neighboring parishes, and attending to matters which required quiet and attention. He helped the brothers cut firewood in the forest; worked the soil, harvested grain and gathered cucumbers; tended the bees, assisted in construction projects by fetching boards and pounding nails. He shared the simple monastic means, demanded — and received — no special treatment. He attended daily services, and read ascetical literature like Unseen warfare. On Aug. 13th he tonsured St. Tikhon’s first monk after vespers: Bro. Antonii (Repella); at liturgy next morning, he tonsured the second: Bro. Seraphim. On Sept. 14th he ordained Bro. Antonii to the diaconate at the Monastery.
Fr. F. Buketov <“V ozhidanii Vladyki,” APV 10.23, p. 456-58> described Abp. Tikhon’s travels. In order to spare the Mission the cost of automobile travel, he always takes the train. At every station, his “patriarch’s figure” in warm blue cassock and hat from which flowed long hair, he attracted attention. People stood up. Many approached him, shook his hand, and asked advice. Many of the places he visited were so isolated that trains stopped only once a day, so he spent the night in rectories, and — in many places lacking permanent clergy — in private homes. “He lives like a true Apostle, without complain, bearing with joy all the difficulties and inconveniences while proclaiming the Good News about Christ.” He has truly “tak[en] the form of a servant,” being afforded none of the royal treatment taken for granted by hierarchs in the Old World. The author prophecied that “something even greater, more responsible” must be being prepared for him by Providence. Arriving in 1906, Fr. Leonid Turkevich found him americanized like the rest of the clergy, uncharacteristically animate in speech for a Russian, friendly, and simple, yet still very much an archpastor, keeping everyone in their correct place. “The Mission’s workers,” he wrote, “are full of trust, love, and the desire to be obedient to their patriarch and head.” In November of 1906 he traveled all the way to Butte, MT, to consecrate an isolated Serbian Church. Another, anonymous description: “A wise Archpastor, full of pure, profound faith; a concerned leader, firm director, humble instructor, authoritative conversor, happily combining an openness to all and yet preserving the dignity inherent to him. We saw before us not only a bishop, but a person as well, who was kind, condescending, strict with himself, sincere and patient, often covering over the impatience of others. All felt equally close to their bishop and valued his nearness to them. A friendly Missionwide family was created; a friendly common work and ministry was held by all who accepted the yoke of this responsibility.”
Ultimately, Abp. Tikhon’s administrative prowess in America led to his transfer, on Jan. 25, 1907 (O.S.) to Yaroslavl, one of the oldest and most important sees in the Russian Church. His service on the Holy Synod brought him to the direct attention of Pobedonostsev and fellow hierarchs. He had also achieved that level of popularity among the flock which, in the minds of the government officials administering the Russian Church, marked him for transfer. This spirit of loving unity between bishop and his flock is perhaps Abp. Tikhon’s greatest legacy to the American Church. Arriving in America, Abp. Platon declared in St. Nicholas Cathedral, “I see already here that the name of Abp. Tikhon is surrounded with a halo of love, and the fond memory of him will never die here.” On 1/14, 1907, the Russian Orthodox American Messenger ran a front-page story, citing “reliable, but not official sources,” that Abp. Tikhon had been transferred the historic and prestigious see of Yaroslavl. The editors congratulated him on the promotion, but lamented that “the American Mission cannot conceal the feeling of deepest sorrow in parting with their kind, fatherly-solicitous, and wise Archpastor.” Official word came Feb. 15/28th, in an ukase signed by the Tsar on Jan. 26th. There remained one major project to complete: convening of an All-American Council in Mayfield, PA. On Thursday, Feb. 22nd, between working sessions, the Archbishop hosted a luncheon for the clergy. After the meal, he rose to speak:
Fathers and Brothers:
This is our farewell meal, but the sorrow of my parting with my flock is tempered by the fact that I have the possibility today of seeing almost all of my colleagues in the States.
And so, I take the opportunity of this gathering to express to you my thanks for our work together. We labored and toiled together. In some matters, I took the initiative for you, inspired you, and you did the work, realizing my ideas. In other case, on the opposite, you gave me ideas — and I am not ashamed to admit it. Then I sought the means and possibility to realize your idea practically. I appealed to you to work together from the very beginning — in my first speech in the San Francisco Cathedral; and my words were not in vain. If anything has been done here, it has not been by me alone, but together with you. (It goes without saying that the Lord God helped us.) More than once have I told you that the more I study the history of the Orthodox Church in this country, the more I am convinced that our work here is God’s work; that God himself is helping us; that when it seems as though everything we do is ready to fail — the work of Russian Orthodoxy — on the contrary, it not only does not die, but grows in new strength and brilliance.
I recall how strongly I was disturbed by the news of my appointment to America. I was not saddened so much by leaving the flock in Chelm whom I had gotten used to and where (it seemed) I was of some use. I was sorrowful not so much at the thought of having to go to a country distant and of leaving my very old, ailing mother at home — as I was depressed when I realized that I was little suited for this work for which I was being sent, and little acquainted with it. And what happened? “No one but God?” or “Who else but God?”
He helped me spend over eight years here in service which not only gained praise from people, but was somewhat useful for our work here itself. And now, I am inclined to think that even my appointment to America occurred not so much by human judgment as by God’s design — that it was well-timed for the flock here. …
From the very beginning I gave my colleagues wide room for initiative. As long as the work got done, it was not important to me whether it began with me or others. And the consequences of this were not slow in being told: parishes began to multiply, new churches were built, the number of parishioners grew, new institutions were established. On the other side, they cannot reproach me for lack of firmness or patience. On the contrary, when others thought it necessary, for example, to abandon some project or take some stringent measures to suspend someone, I always parted humbly and patiently, preferring to wait it out — fearing that I might extinguish smoking flax and shatter a broken reed. And who knows how many people and projects have thus been preserved … But I should not boast; better I turn to my weaknesses.
You know that there is no full perfection in the world, that very often our virtues and perfections border on faults and weaknesses. It is not in vain that they say that genius and insanity are related. So, too with me. That which was worthy, that which brought good to the diocese, especially in the beginning, little-by-little changed, and in the final account, could be accompanied by harm. As we said, I gave my colleagues wide initiative and independent work. But tell me, are sensible and true voices not sometimes heard to say, in effect, “We are allowed to much.” That “Something needs to be suppressed” (which is sometimes done, but after the fact). Or, for example, does my patience not sometimes pass over into connivance? Or, for example, I sometimes boast that I have string instead of nerves — it is hard to draw me out, that I bear the most unexpected misfortunes with relative composure, that I do not lose my presence of mind over them, that it is hard to amaze me by them. But this is close to apathy, to complete indifference, to stony senselessness — which are not only not virtues or merits, but, on the contrary, evil and sin, from which we pray that God will deliver us.
And so, I think hat those things in which I was useful here for a while — for which I was perhaps even sent here — have now passed and are no longer needed. that you need something different, a different worker with a different approach and character. It is in this thought that I find the chief motive and justification for the transfer of hierarchs from one diocese to another, and not at all in a desire for greater comforts, peace, honor, and other earthly blessings — the desire for which is ascribed, not always rightly, to hierarchs when they are transferred.
Let me depart, Fathers and Brothers, with peace to a place where the qualities I manifested here will, perhaps, still be of value. And allow me to wish you further successes in your tasks, and to remain here happily.
The Archbishop understood his hearers’ childlike tears, their inability to respond. At the close of the Council, he addressed them again:
You know, of course, that I am departing from you, and perhaps shall not see many of your again. Under these circumstances, the touching prayer of Christ our High Priest to his Heavenly Father comes to my mind — the prayer for the Apostles and believers. Preparing to part with his disciples, the Savior beseeched God to keep the flock together as Christ himself had kept them; to preserve them from enmity so that none would be lost; to sanctify them in mutual love. Following the image of our Supreme Shepherd, Jesus Christ, I too, preparing to part with you, pray first of all for my former flock. … And my present prayer to the Heavenly Father before parting is that he would preserve you in the True Faith and defend you against the malevolences of enemies.
Our Savior, parting with this world, feared for the fate of his not-numerous disciples who were facing many enemies. “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat! (Lk. 22.31-32). How can we help fearing for our small flock? How easily the candle can be extinguished by the wind coming through the open window. How easily can an oarsman in a frail boat be overturned by the sea waves. Here, we cannot boast of great numbers, neither of renown, nor of wealth, nor of learning — all that is valued in this world. We are strong here only in one thing — in possessing the True Orthodox Faith, but even “that not of yourself; it is the gift of God.” (Eph. 2.8), and we should ask the Lord for the increase of this gift. Let them stand fast in thy Holy Church, in the Orthodox Faith.
And you, brethren, when departing from here and doing to those who delegated you, strengthen your brethren in the Faith and the love of Orthodoxy.
“Moreover, I will endeavor that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance.” (2 Pet. 1.15).
Unannounced, through heavy snows, he paid a final visit to the Monastery where he had found such “happiness and solitude”; he encouraged Fr. Arsenii and the brotherhood to live a life worthy of monks. Their only consolation, said the Abbot, was that their beloved archpastor would soon be “surrounded in all the grandeur and glory” that he deserved “in the bosom of Holy Mother Rus’.” On March 11/24th, the Sunday of Orthodoxy, the Archbishop celebrated his last Divine Liturgy in America, and from the pulpit took the opportunity one last time to express his views on what it means to be Orthodox in the New World:
It is not enough, brethren, to celebrate the “Triumph of Orthodoxy.” We have to concur in this triumph. And for this, we have to guard sacredly the Orthodox faith, to stand firm in it, disregarding the fact that we live in a non-Orthodox country; not giving heed to opinions one hears, such as: “This is not the Old Country, here. This is a free land. Therefore, supposedly, we may not have to observe everything that the Church requires.” As if the Word of God is suitable only for the Old Country and not for the whole world. As if the Church of Christ is not catholic! As if the Orthodox Faith is not the one that “sustains the universe!”
But guarding the Orthodox Faith sacredly and loving it is not enough. Christ the Savior said that lighting the candle, one does not put it “under a bushel, but on a candlestick.” (Mt. 5.15), and the light of Orthodoxy is lighted not for a small circle of people. No, the Orthodox Church is catholic; she remembers the will of her Founder: “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature, teach all the nations.” (Mt. 28.19, Mk. 16.15). We ought to share our spiritual wealth, truth, and light with others. … Thus, each of us should consider this task of propagating the faith as his own task, dear to his heart.
I have spoken of this many times to my flock, and now, departing from here, I leave it to you as my last will — to cherish and to fulfill. And first of all, you, brethren of this holy temple … testify to your beliefs as Russian people in your cultural traditions. … May God strengthen you always in devotion to the Orthodox Faith! …
Farewell to you, this country. For some you are a fatherland, for others you were a haven and gave them shelter, work, and prosperity. Still others in this free land obtained the right to profess the sound, true faith. In antiquity, God spoke through the prophets: “And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried, … and pray the Lord for it: for the peace thereof shall yet have peace” (Jer. 29.7). And we pray likewise “for the abundance of the fruits of the earth, for healthful seasons” … in all our services. So let the blessing of God be with this country and this city and this temple, and may the blessing of God be with all of you, now and always and unto the ages of ages.”
On March 13/26th he sailed for Europe aboard the Kronprinz Wilhelm. He served in Yaroslavl from 1907 until 1913. “One can state that in Yaroslavl, Abp. Tikhon was in the bloom of his archpastoral talents, adorned by his administrative experience in America.” The ancient archdiocese had declined sharply since the Revolution of 1905, and he managed to improve the religious and political situation significantly. He proved very popular, particularly the solemn liturgies he served in parish churches. He also participated in the highest levels of the Russian Church, as a member of the Holy Synod or Preconciliar Commission, learning the good and bad points of the tsarist and synodal system, becoming acquainted personally both with the most prominent hierarchs and consecrating young hierarchs — factors which would serve him well when he was elected Patriarch in 1917 and required to maintain unity in the episcopacy in the face of the Bolshevik threat. He succeeded — much to the horror of the Soviets — because the old-line synodal bishops respected him and sought his advice.
In 1913, at the age of 48, Abp. Tikhon was transferred to a most sensitive position in the Archdiocese of Vilna, capital of the Province of Lithuania, a veritable hotbed of Catholicism and Uniatism. His innate simplicity and humility, and great difficulty in displaying pomp when required to do so, put off the intelligentsia, but his warmth, wisdom, and approachability generally won the respect and love of the masses, as he labored to break down national and religious barriers and establish trust. Russian officials and people were very anti-Polish and anti-Catholic. He continued to serve in the parishes without pomp, even walking about on foot — utterly unheard of among bishops! With his priests he was simple and kind, good-natured and unbureaucratic. His Orthodox flock included many former soldiers in need of special spiritual support and healing. He used his own funds to provide them aid. When the front threatened to cut Vilna off from Russia during World War I, Tikhon watched the battle rage around his cathedral before obeying military orders to accompany their last echelons out of harm’s way. Rescuing the holy relics and some churchwares, he was first evacuated to Mosow and set up Vilna institutions in exile there. Finding that too remote from his flock, however, he dared to return to Disna where he experienced “all the adversities and deprivations of parochial life,” working with displaced persons, visiting forward hospitals, and several times risking his life to minister under hostile fire to the frontline soldiers in the trenches, an act for which he was decorated. During the war he was frequently summoned by the government to serve on the Holy Synod, where he did so with great distinction, attracting attention and respect among the hierarchs. He chaired the Educational Commission of the Holy Synod, which early in 1915 established by-laws for the North American Theological Seminary which made their graduates eligible for admission to the Russian institutions and opened the academies and universities He served as President of the Voronezh-based St. Vladimir Brotherhood, dedicated to promoting Orthodoxy among Rusyns, Galicians, Bukowinians, and other Slavic émigrés to America. The Brotherhood published religious and ethical books and pamphlets aimed at countering erroneous views on the Church, and helped finance building projects in the United States.
When the revolutionary spirit spread to the Church in 1917, he suffered along with his fellow hierarchs under the heavy-handed administration of Ober Procurator Vladimir Nikolaevich L’vov. L’vov expelled from their sees those members of the Holy Synod whom he deemed to have obtained their appointments through the influence of Grigorii Rasputin; concern for proper canonical order in the episcopacy prompted the hierarchs to comply, opening their sees to new elections. In March of 1917 Abp. Tikhon, freed by L’vov from attending the Holy Synod, found himself living in Petrograd, in a two-room suite in Bp. Agafangel’s house. In elections for a successor to Metr. Pitirim in the See of Petrograd, he was one of the minor candidates. Although virtually unknown to the faithful in Moscow, he was one of many nominees to succeed Metr. Makarii there. In an extraordinarily solemn and fully free election, Tikhon won 481 of 799 votes, and was enthroned on June 19, 1917, and very well received. On August 11, 1917, he won a landslide victory to preside at the Moscow Council. Two days later he was elevated to the dignity of Metropolitan In mid-October the Council took up the question of restoring the Patriarchate. When the Bolshevik Revolution broke out on October 25th, Tikhon celebrated a prayer service for peace, and suggested that the Council cease debates and proceed to an election. The suggestion was taken only on October 30th, and by a vote of 141-112 with 12 abstentions (there was no longer a quorum), the Patriarchate of Moscow was re-established. Next day, nominations for the office were held, according to the rules in effect in the 17th century when Peter the Great abolished it. On the first two ballots, Abp. Antonii (Khrapovitskii) of Khar’kov won a plurality; Abp. Arsenii of Novgorod won nomination on the third ballot, Tikhon on the fourth. The three hierarch-nominees names were placed in a chalice on November 1st following Liturgy, and Tikhon was selected by lots. Tikhon accepted the lot “with entire dignity, … not overcome by alarm”; as he always had, he humbly bowed before the will of God, responding with the Church Slavic formulary: “Since the Sacred and Great Council judged me, although unworthy, to be in this ministry, I thank, accept, and say nothing to the contrary.” On November 21st, with smoking, joking Bolshevik guards posted at the gates of the Dormition Cathedral, Tikhon assumed the Patriarchal throne at age 52, accepted the pastoral staff which had belonged to Metr. Peter of Moscow from the hands of the soon-to-be-martyred Metr. Vladimir, and was vested in the rounded, white patriarchal mantle and blue velvet cowl belonging to the last Patriarch, Nikon. He led a procession around the Kremlin, sprinkling its walls with holy water. At the approach of the “bent old man,” the revolutionary soldiers “instantly pulled off their caps and rushed towards the Patriarch, stretching out their hands for his blessing.” He continued accessible and friendly, and against advice that he conserve his energy, celebrated wherever requested.
The Council recessed for the Christmas holidays, and on Jan. 19, 1918, Tikhon anathematized the Bolsheviks: “Come to your sense, madmen. Cease your bloody violence, for what you are doing is not only cruel, it is indeed satanic, and for it you will be subject to the fires of hell in the life to come beyond the grave, and to a terrible curse from posterity in this earthly life.” He advised his fellow bishops, priests, and the faithful (Jan. 19, 1918) that “it is better to spill one’s blood and be made worthy of a martyr’s crown than to allow the Orthodox faith to be profaned.”
At the beginning [of the Soviet rule] he condemned this spirit before the whole world, and he never repudiated the condemnation — nor could he. In the first years, when no one believed that this monstrous and unnatural form of government would be long-lived, the Patriarch was prepared to offer his life as a sacrifice to free the country. But when the protracted and chronic character of this disease in the Russian government (which is also the disease of the Russian spirit) became obvious, he understood the necessity of taking these circumstances into account, and, submitted to the facts as the early Christians had submitted to the fact of Nero’s rule. This was all the more [necessary] since his attention was now focused on fighting with the “Living Church.” This necessary narrowing of the front found expression in the well-known conciliatory declaration in relation to the Soviet power. … We must look upon these concessions by the Patriarch as his final pastoral self-sacrifice for the good of his spiritual flock: instead of the crown of martyrdom, [he accepted] dishonor and the world’s humiliation, along with those who for a while are being allowed to torment our country. Let us be frank: in anyone else, such behavior would be reprehensible; but coming from the Patriarch, it was a new form of self-sacrifice, a voluntary self-abasement in Christ. It was taken exactly as such by the people in their unfailing love; love endures all things, believes, all things, hopes all things, endures all things (1 Cor. 13).
Reconvening, the Council supported his position that the Church would not relinquish property to nationalization. Reacting to rumors that his arrest was imminent, it urged the Patriarch to protect himself “for the good of the Church” — even to the point of fleeing abroad. He quietly and politely declined: “The flight of the Patriarch would be too convenient for the enemies of the Church; they would use this for their own ends. Let them do what they will.” The faithful of Moscow organized round-the-clock guards for their Father in Christ. On Sept. 7, 1918, the Council adjourned for lack of funds, planning to meet again in three years. In the interim, a Synod of Bishops and Supreme Ecclesiastical Council was named to assist the Patriarch. They unsuccessfully opposed a risky letter which Tikhon addressed to the Soviet commissars on the first anniversary of their take-over, listing their failures and injustices. Rumors of arrest intensified after Tikhon prayed for the murdered imperial family; again he rejected Synodal pressures to flee the country. Fierce persecutions and confiscations broke out in December of 1918. The Patriarch was placed under house arrest until Pascha, and received horrible reports of incalculable losses among the clergy. Lenin was determined not to make of Tikhon “a second Germogen,” and so restrained his followers from physical attacks against him; nevertheless, on May 31/June 13, 1919, was wounded in a knife attack by a deranged woman, P. K. Guseva. “Moral terrorism,” however, was waged, by promises that in exchange for dropping his alleged counter-revolutionary acts, the killings could be slowed. As the Soviet regime stabilized, Tikhon sincerely abandoned politics — and publicly advised the clergy to do likewise as fruitless and serving only to increase bloodshed. He willingly moved to reign in active anti-Bolshevik acts, to the extent of condemning the White movement on Sept. 25, 1919. Summoned before the Special Political Division, he was offered safe passage to America; he refused, preferring to suffer with his flock. Crowds gathered at the gates of the Lubianka No. 2 Political Building whenever he was summoned for questioning; their pious bows to receive his blessing infuriated the Bolsheviks. The Soviet press attacked him constantly and viciously. He continued to serve openly, for “the Patriarchal services were the only somehow bright and joyous thing instilling rest and overshadowing the seal of sorrow which lay on the people’s heart.” On Nov. 7, 1920, in the face of increasing persecution, he took the precaution of issuing Ukase No. 362, providing for temporary organization of dioceses cut off from the Patriarchate. As famine spread, he appealed in August of 1921 to Orthodox churches worldwide, as well as to the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury. In 1922, reduced to living in filth — without complaint — he looked forward to celebrating his thirtieth anniversary as a monk, twenty-fifth anniversary as a bishop, and fifth anniversary as Patriarch, and yet confided to Fr. Pashkovsky that he doubted he would live to see Easter of 1923. Indeed, the situation worsened, when the émigré bishops in Sremski Karlovci addressed the Genoa Conference, calling for all nations to arm anti-Soviet forces rather than providing the aid requested by the Patriarch; the Bolsheviks blamed Tikhon and the press began demanding confiscation of church treasures to help feed the people. The Patriarch gave his conditional blessing — anything not consecrated for divine worship could and should be given up with love, “in view of the extraordinarily disastrous circumstances.” When Kalinin’s initial orders not to interfere with the “cult itself” were exceeded, Tikhon condemned the “sacrilege” (citing Ap. Can. 73 and Quinisext 10). In February of 1922, the Soviets issued a decree on the seizure of ecclesiastical properties, convinced that opposition would allow them to widen the persecution. < Douglas, “Story,” p. 44, observes that the Soviets did not sell the tsar’s jewels, which they held and which “have since fetched more than £1,000,000,” yet they demanded the churches “treasures,” which yielded less than half that amount.”> At the same time, they isolated Tikhon by either arresting the hierarchs assisting him or ordering them out of Moscow, back to their sees. He had no one to help him when Bp. Antonin (Granovskii), recently released from arrest, initiated a revolt against his authority, testifying as an expert in canon law about the legality of the confiscation laws. Show trials of ecclesiastics began, with the Patriarch being called to testify; at the infamous “Trial of the Fifty-four” on May 5, 1922, with great self-control and dignity, Tikhon declared from the witness stand: “These people did their duty; they acted on my orders, so they are not guilty of anything. I accept their guilt myself. Try me.” He refused to answer to his secular name, Vasilii Belavin. The press utilized this admission to intensify its campaign to destroy his public image and neutralize his power. He was painted as a monarchist and center of the Karlovci opposition, despite the fact that he issued an ukase on Apr. 22/May 5th, declaring the Karlovci group illegal and gave Metr. Evlogii full authority over the entire church abroad. (He fell short of the Bolsheviks’ demand that he excommunicate the political émigrés outright.) He was returned to strict house arrest; his quarters were searched for foreign publications in his absence. On March 15/28, 1923, Tikhon’s name headed a “list of enemies of the people,” published in Izvestiia; his entire staff, including Fr. Alexander Hotovitzky, was arrested, and “the Prelate standing at the helm of the Church was without any means of directing the ship of the Church during the most dreadful storm.”
A group of priests declaring itself opposed to the Patriarch and in favor of the Soviets’ social actions by a return to primitive Christianity, formed the “Living Church” on March 25, 1922; on April 29/May 12th, its Zhivaia tserkov’ joined Izvestiia in attacking the Patriarch, and dispatched a five-man delegation (with two GPU guards) to demand his abdication, in view of his inability to govern the Church; he defiantly demanded instead that the Soviets allow the canons to be observed with his authority being transferred to Metr. Agafangel (Preobrazhenskii) of Yaroslavl’ pending the convening of a council. On May 3/16th, the Locum tenens was summoned to Moscow to assume power, while the Patriarch retired to the Donskoi Monastery, having thwarted the rebel Bp. Antonin’s ambitions for the short term. He was held in squalid, strictly-isolated quarters and constantly guarded, being allowed short periods of outdoor exercise three times a day, one appearance a day at his balcony to bless the masses, and Holy Communion only once a week. “Every device is put into practice in order to insult the Patriarch, both in public and in private, to humiliate him as a prelate and a man. … Patriarch Tikhon, who is far from having completed his three-score years, and is by nature wise and calm, sometimes produces the impression of a living corpse.” On May 20, 1923 (N.S.), Izvestiia announced a take-over of the Patriarchal Chancery and formation of a Provisional Supreme Ecclesiastical Administration headed by Bps. Antonin and Leonid; Agafangel, denied permission to leave Yaroslavl’ when he refused to join the movement, led underground opposition to the Living Church until he was arrested and exiled to Siberia. After Izvestiia announced that the Patriarch would be tried during Bright Week, the London Times reported that Tikhon’s execution was imminent. A renovationist “All-Russian Conference,” convened Apr. 16/29, 1923, in Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral purged sixty opponents; a second conference opened with 476 politically-screened delegates from 72 of 74 dioceses was still divided over which program to follow. On April 20/May 3rd, 54 of the 66 bishops present “unanimously” condemned Tikhon for “bringing into jeopardy the very existence of the Church,” nullified his anathema against the Soviets, deprived the “apostate” and “traitorous” Vasilii Belavin of both his rank and monastic calling, and abolished the “restored Patriarchate.” He rejected the council’s competency, signing the formal notification, but annotating it with one word: “Illegal.”
Knowing nothing about the true state of affairs in the Church, since his only source of information in prison was the Soviet newspapers, Tikhon came to believe that continued heroism would be wrong, and on June 3/16, 1923, he officially repented of his “anti-Soviet acts” in order to save the Church, and pledged, in return for freedom, that “henceforth, I am not an enemy of the Soviet Power. I am finally and decisively setting myself apart from both the foreign and the internal monarchist White Guard counterrevolutionaries.” Ten days later, after several postponements of his trial, “Citizen Belavin” was set free from Taganka Prison, barefoot and disheveled, wearing a soldier’s coat, and allowed to return to the Donskoi Monastery, where he remained under de facto house arrest, allowed to see only those who dared pass a “ferocious and rude communist sentry” and sign an official registry stating the reason for his visit. (He would be declared no longer “socially dangerous” and have his legal case dismissed only in March of 1924.) His health worsened. An attempt was made to poison him. In June and July he published open letters to the Church in Pravda, declaring himself neither an “admirer of the Soviet power” nor its enemy. He condemned monarchists, White Guards, and the various renovationists (finding only the New Calendar and new orthography worthy of adoption); he declared the Church to be totally “apolitical,” neither “white” nor “red,” and warned the bishops in Karlovci to heed his 1922 ukase or face canonical trial in Moscow. Izvestiia (July 5, No. 146) declared this “a supremely timely and wise act” which could result in a change in relations between church and state. In an effort to tone down Western (primarily British) criticism, his new position was propagated in the West through a cautious interview with the Manchester Guardian. Regel’son
states that by the time Tikhon made some compromising statements about the Soviets in 1923, the people understood that he had already suffered greatly for the faith, and took his words in context; they were unwilling to be as understanding with Metr. Sergii, who cited Tikhon’s position. The renovationist movement rapidly fell apart, and the Soviets pressured Tikhon (by threat of re-arrest for himself and continued arrest for his fellow hierarchs) to be reconciled with its former leaders; he did so with the greatest of reluctance, feeling himself to have been tricked concerning their actual strength and following; nevertheless, Abp. Feodor (Pozdeevskii) found the Patriarch too soft and unauthoritative, and led an aggressive right-wing opposition to Tikhon from the Danilov Monastery. On Jan. 2/15, 1924, Tikhon and his Synod declared the renovationist hierarchy uncanonical On Oct. 21, 1924, a first serious attempt was made on his life, during Liturgy; the hapless assassin mistook Metr. Peter for him, but the experience left him badly shaken, and the asthma from which he suffered notably increased. A second attempt on Nov. 26/Dec. 9, 1924, during a break-in of his apartment by two erstwhile “thieves,” left his servant since his days in the United States, IAkov Sergeevich Ostroumov, dead of gunshot wounds, aggravated his nephritis to the point that he was advised by physicians to limit his work; rumors spread that he had suffered a stroke. Kneeling at Ostroumov’s grave, two shots which nearly missed, left his constitution broken. In January 1925 (N.S.), the Bolsheviks stepped up measures aimed at preventing Tikhon’s effective government of the Church, to the point that he felt himself only nominally free, and wonder whether prison would not be preferable. He found himself surrounded in an atmosphere of lies, provocations, and deceit, having to second-guess everyone he met. Hints that prisoners might be freed and conditions generally improved alternated with threats that even greater repression was possible. He was forced to do things calculated to be unpopular with the faithful (e.g. ordering prayers for the Soviet authorities, authorizing the New Calendar — ostensibly because it had been adopted by all the Eastern Patriarchs ). He became visibly (and most uncharacteristically) agitated whenever the Chekist agent Tuchkov (the de facto Ober Procurator) assigned to deal with him approached. on Jan. 12th (N.S.), a doctor recommended complete bed rest in hospital, and the Patriarch realized that he was sufficiently ill to check into the still-privately run Bakunin Clinic; Dr. Bakunina refused him admission, fearing reprisals from the Bolsheviks. Next day, he was admitted as Citizen Belavin. For the duration of his three-month stay, while being treated for severe sclerosis, kidney disease, angina pectoris, and nerves, he enjoyed the comfort of a clean, bright private room with an armchair and desk, where he sat, when he felt up to it, enjoying the view of the Zachat’evskii Monastery. He read Turgenev, Goncharov, and Pobedonostsev’s memoirs. He brought in his own icons and a lampada. He looked like a poor, sick old man, except when vested for services. There he celebrated his sixtieth birthday. When his condition began to improve with rest, Agent Tuchkov began “visiting” him again, and saw to it that a steady stream of relatives and friends came to his door — and thereby tiring him again. He was not too happy to receive the “tall, well-fed,” and somewhat insolent Metr. Peter when the latter began visiting near the end of his stay. When released, he returned to parish visitations, and in March/April consecrated two new bishops. At the beginning of Great Lent he had two decayed teeth extracted. Routine swelling of the gums spread to his tonsils. When he was to sick to celebrate Annunciation (March 25/April 7th), a specialist, Dr. Genkin, his surgeon, Dr. Vinogradov, and Dr. Bakunina were summoned to examine him, but found nothing seriously wrong. Metr. Peter, Locum tenens since Dec. 25, 1924 (O.S.), visited a last time after Liturgy, again pressing the Patriarch loudly and at length, to sign the anti-Karlovci Proclamation which he had composed at Tuchkov’s instructions; again Tikhon resisted, but the Metropolitan stressed that this was the only possible and acceptable platform for church/state relations in Soviet Russia and threatened to resign unless he signed it. In the evening Tikhon gave in, and signed with a twitching hand. At 10 P.M., he asked to be washed; then, after resting a bit, he turned uncharacteristically serious and stern; “Now I will fall fast asleep and for long — the night will be long, long, dark, dark…,” he declared. He awoke at 11:45, and had to be dissuaded from having his jaw tied up to ease the discomfort. He slept a bit more, then asked to see a doctor. By the time Dr. Shchelkan and his colleagues arrived (none would accept responsibility for him alone), the Patriarch was pale and his pulse weak; unable to speak, he pointed at his chest, and tremble with the onset of angina. He was in such pain that he requested morphine as he usually did for these particular symptoms. At 11:45 P.M., he asked what time it was, and receiving an answer, crossed himself three times, proclaiming each time, “Glory to God!” and his heart stopped. Camphor and cocaine were administered, without success. An obviously overjoyed Tuchkov learned from a tapped phone of the death, and with a GPU agent, examined the body before Metr. Peter and Bp. Boris arrived, wrapped it in the Patriarchal mantle, and accompanied it in a GPU ambulance to Donskoi to prepare it for burial. He was vested by Bp. Boris in gold and dark-green velvet vestments and laid in an oak coffin. Led by sixty hierarchs, 160,000-170,000 people filed by his remains, four abreast at a rate of 100-120 per minute, each day for three days. He was laid to rest in the Donskoi Monastery on Palm Sunday, March 30/April 12, 1925. Rumors spread that the dentist who pulled the Patriarch’s diseased teeth had secretly administered poison instead of cocaine. The newspapers printed badly muddled reports.