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Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow

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March 24

Reading:

The hymns of Saint Tikhon are transferred to this day because of the Annunciation of the Theotokos.

Born in 1865 in the region of Pskov, our Father among the Saints Tikhon was tonsured a monk in 1891 and ordained to the priesthood in the same year. In 1897 he was consecrated Bishop of Lublin, and a year later appointed Bishop of Alaska and the Aleutian Islands, with his see extending to all of North America from 1900 onwards. He did much to unite the Orthodox Christians of a great many ethnic backgrounds in North America, so that there was indeed one flock under one shepherd. In 1907 he was made Archbishop of Yaroslav and Rostov, and in 1913, Archbishop of Lithuania.

In 1917, when he was Metropolitan of Moscow, he was elected to be the first Patriarch of Russia in over 200 years, in times that could not have been more difficult. After the Revolution of 1917, the persecution of the Russian Church by the atheist government grew more bold and more fierce with every year. By nature a meek and peace-loving man, Tikhon sought to determine, while giving only to God that which is God's, what could be given to Caesar to preserve peace and avoid the shedding of blood. When, however, it became evident that the atheist were intent on the complete destruction of the Church, the Patriarch gave his blessing to Michael Zhizhilenko, a physician of devout life and courageous spirit, secretly to become a monk and, if any of Tikhon's successors were to betray the Church into the hands of her enemies, to become a bishop; which, after Saint Tikhon's death on the feast of the Annunciation in 1925, he did. Having received the monastic name of Maximus, he was made bishop of Serpukhov, becoming the first catacomb bishop of the Russian Church after the infamous declaration of Metropolitan Sergius in 1927, which proclaimed the Church to be of one mind and heart with the atheist government. Although the exact circumstances of Saint Tikhon's death is not clear, in the opinion of Bishop Maximus of Serpukhov, who himself died a martyr's death in 1930, he was "unquestionably poisoned". At his departure, Saint Tikhon made the sign of the Cross thrice, pronouncing the words, "Glory to Thee, O God!" Because of the many unspeakable sufferings endured as Patriarch, he is honoured as a Confessor.

Apolytikion in the Plagal of the First Tone

To the new world sent forth as a shepherd of the flock, * thou wast called back to the old, to take up the Cross as a staff * and from wolves and faithless shepherds to defend the Church; * and after thee, the sheep of Christ * knew no shepherd to be true who kept not thy good confession, * wherein, O Tikhon, preserve us unharmed throughout our earthly pilgrimage.

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone

The most holy Patriarch, * ven'rable Tikhon, * the Confessor of the Faith, * hath gained from Christ the crown of life; * for he did labour with godly zeal * and strove till death in defence of the Church of Christ.