Project Canterbury

His Holiness Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow and of All the Russias: A Memoir

By A. Roshestvensky; translated by H.P.

London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1923.

THE turbid waters in Russia are still boiling. Destroyed and overthrown is the old order of life. But, as at the flood the rainbow of hope was lifted high by the Almighty, so also in Russia, in the midst of the remnants of her past glory, the ship of the Orthodox Church, guided by the sure hand of her spiritual pilot, the Patriarch of Moscow and of all the Russias, Tikhon, sails undaunted. This simple, extremely approachable and gentle man showed himself a very hero in his responsible post, and with unconquerable strength withstands all onslaughts of the muddy waves, which are hurling themselves on to the ship of the Russian Church.

I remember the present Patriarch in his youth, when he was studying in the Pskoff Church Seminary in the years 1878-1883. He was born in Toropsha, in the Pskoff Government, where his father spent all his life as priest. This town is known for its resemblance to Moscow in its churches; in this little place one finds churches at every step, all old and some beautiful. Local holy relics are also to be found, among others the ancient [5/6] Ikon of the Korsun Mother of God, known in Russian writings of the first period of Christianity in Russia. Life in the townlet was on the patriarchal system, with many ancient Russian customs; the nearest railroad was at that time 200 versts from Toropsha.

Vassili Ivanovitch Bellavin felt the influence of this simple family and social life. He was then a quiet student, remarkable for his piety, of a gentle and agreeable character. He was tall and fair. His fellow-students loved him, but to this love respect was always added, explained through his decided but not affected piety, his brilliant learning, and his continual readiness to help his comrades, who often turned to him for explanations in their difficulties and help in the essays which they had to write. In this help the young Bellavin seemed to find great pleasure. It is strange that his comrades in the seminary jokingly nicknamed him "The Archbishop." In the Theological College in Petrograd I knew Vassili Ivanovitch Bellavin in his third year, and although it was not the custom there to give nicknames, his comrades, who loved the gentle and quietly religious youth from Pskoff, called him "The Patriarch." Many a time his former fellow-students reminded him of this fact when he was already the Head of the Church.

In the Academy Vassili Ivanovitch was also the [6/7] chief favourite. This was very noticeable on one occasion, when he was in his last year. There was a library for the students at the College, which was got together by contributions from the students themselves in money, books, collections, or the sale of their personal belongings. Journals and newspapers were often sent gratis; books were bought by the students themselves without the control of the authorities, although the authorities knew very well what books were got. As the library of the College itself contained many and good books, mostly, of course, of a religious nature, the students naturally tried to get more secular literature, works of fiction, etc., even books not allowed by the censorship. The librarian was a student, elected by themselves. One day the student librarian was removed from his post by the authorities as "unreliable," and the students protested by refusing to elect anyone but the one banned by the authorities. Then the Rector of the Academy, Bishop Anthony, who was later Metropolitan of Petrograd, himself appointed Vassili Ivanovitch Bellavin as librarian. This manoeuvre succeeded very well; Bellavin's popularity with the students was so great that nobody protested against the violation of the students' rights, and he was accepted by them.

Usually the students who wished to enter the higher priesthood became monks before leaving the College in their fourth year, some even did so in [7/8] their second or third year. Vassili Ivanovitch Bellavin finished his studies without entering a community or being ordained, and got a position in his own Pskoff Seminary as theological lecturer. The scholars of this seminary remember him vividly as the young teacher, different and more enthusiastic than his older colleagues, so sympathetic to the needs of the scholars. The others were cold, formal men, expecting their young charges to bear themselves "more quietly than water, lower than the grass." I often in later years met the students of this seminary, and they all held Bellavin in the most tender remembrance. He lived in Pskoff very simply on the attic floor of a little wooden house in a quiet little by-street near the Church of St. Nicholas, and had many friends. To this day he loves to speak of his Pskoff friends; his conversations with them gave him rest and pleasure.

Suddenly an unexpected report went round. The young lecturer had sent the Archbishop a request to be allowed to become a monk. The Bishop Germogen, agood and kind old man, gave his approval, and the ceremony was to take place in the College church. For this event, rare in the annals of the town and with the well-known and much loved man as the chief actor, nearly the whole town gathered. It was feared, as the church was on the second floor, that the floors might not bear the weight of the crowd, and supports to the ceiling were placed on [8/9] the ground floor. Those present remember with what feeling and steadfastness the young monk made his responses: "Yes, with God's help." As is often the case at such times, many were in tears. But the monk himself entered on his new life with calmness and steadfastness, evidently feeling that family life was not for him, and wishing to devote himself wholeheartedly to the service of the Church.

The service of Bellavin or the monk Tikhon, as he was now called, then continued in the usual course. First, administrative work in the Theological College and then the appointment as Bishop, and so on, till he was sent to the United States of America in the responsible post of Russian Bishop. I remember with what anxiety the young Bishop sailed for the far country, together with his youngest brother, a delicate youth, leaving their dearly loved and aged mother in Pskoff; his father was already dead. His brother soon died in his arms, notwithstanding all the care lavished on him, far off in America, and his body was sent home to lie in his native Toropsha, where his mother still lived. With her death, which occurred soon after, the present Patriarch lost his last relation.

His long stay in America gave his administrative talents full scope in adapting himself to surroundings and usages quite strange to a Russian.

The life and work of a Russian Bishop in America was quite unique. Russian congregations were [9/10] scattered, not only over all the States, but also in far Alaska and the Aleutian Islands; the Bishop went everywhere, visiting the half-savage members of the Orthodox Church, who had kept their Faith and its usages amidst what were to them the strange customs of another world. Many Galicians lived side by side with the Russians in America, and these were mostly Uniats; there were many Orthodox Syrians, Bulgarians, Serbs, and Greeks. It required a fine sense of discrimination to steer clear of any misunderstandings amongst so many denominations. The Russian priesthood had to adapt itself, whether it liked it or not, to the forms of life in America; it was doubly hard for those in monastic orders. Full freedom in religion, publicity, equality among the people, the businesslike spirit of Americans--all this was strange to the Russian thrown into the American whirlpool out of the quiet monastic cell. But the inborn tact of His Eminence Tikhon, his understanding and affection for people, enabled him to place the Church in America on a firm basis, and to inspire his priests with a great spirit of devotion to their work and good feeling towards one another. The work of Tikhon made a deep impression on the lives of the Orthodox in America, and he himself looks back on that time as of great use to himself, making him acquainted with all sorts and conditions of men, and preparing him for the great future in store for him.

[11] The Bishop Tikhon only revisited his native land once during his sojourn in America, and that was when he was called to attend a meeting of the Holy Synod. There, in the presence of the Church dignitaries and the lay members of the Church Council, the clerical administrative talents of the young Bishop were conspicuous, and soon after he was elected to the high calling of Archbishop, and then as administrator or head of one of the oldest and most important dioceses in Russia, that of Jaroslay. There he felt quite happy; everyone loved the approachable, clever, gentle Archbishop, who so affectionately entered into the lives of his flock, and so willingly officiated at the services in the many churches in Jaroslav, in the ancient monasteries, and even in the smaller chapels of his large diocese. He went to these services without any pomp, and even went on foot, which in those days was an unheard-of thing for an Archbishop to do. He took the greatest interest in the minutest details connected with his churches, and sometimes even ascended to the belfries, much to the astonishment of the priests, who were unaccustomed to such a simple Archbishop. But this astonishment soon changed to a great love and respect for their Head, who spoke to them so simply and so gently. When he had to find fault it was also done gently, or even with a smile, which caused the culprits to try their hardest to please him.

[12] The people of Jaroslav looked upon him as an ideal Archbishop, and hoped never to have to part with him. But the Church authorities, notably the laymen, were averse to an Archbishop remaining too long in one place, particularly if he was a favourite. His Eminence Tikhon was appointed to the See of Vilna, and the Vilna Archbishop Agafangel was transferred to Jaroslay. He also was a very good man, and one can find no reason for this transfer. The parting of Tikhon from his flock was very touching; they proved their love and respect for him by electing him honorary citizen of Jaroslav, an honour which no Archbishop had ever had before. In Vilna much tact was needed. He had to please both the Polish and the Orthodox inhabitants, many of whom were very antagonistic to the Poles; he had to be careful not to irritate the Poles, the principal inhabitants of the place, and also to consider the unusual spiritual life of the diocese, the people being mostly Roman Catholics. For Tikhon, with his love of simplicity, it was hard to have to keep up his dignity and prestige as the Head of the Orthodox Church among the Poles, who always had a predilection for outward splendour, and were on the lookout for offence. It seems that in his outward life the simple and humbleminded Tikhon did not quite please those people of his flock, who thought much of outward pomp, although in his churches the services were rendered [12/13] in the most beautiful and elaborate manner, and he never forgot to uphold the dignity of the Russian Orthodox Church among the Roman Catholic inhabitants. And also there they all respected him. I remember how he once was driving to his beautiful episcopal palace outside Vilna in a simple victoria and in a plain cassock, to the horror of his Russian entourage; but all who met and recognized him, Russians, Poles, or Jews, bowed low before him. When he walked in the "Calvary," a place set apart near his country house, where the Roman Catholics had put up the Stations of the Cross, the guardians of the place stopped and welcomed the Orthodox Archbishop, although he was in his ordinary cassock and clerical hat.

He was in Vilna when the war broke out in 1914. His diocese was in the fighting-line, and over it the battles were fought which separated part of it from Russia. The Archbishop had to flee from Vilna, taking with him the Holy Relics and part of the church vessels. He first settled in Moscow, where many followed him, and then he went to Disna, on the outskirts of his see. He gave his most active help in all the organizations for those who suffered by the war, attended to the spiritual wants of the soldiers, etc.; he visited the sick and dying, and even went into the front trenches under enemy fire, for which he was presented with an Order with swords. At this time he was continually [13/14] being asked to attend the meetings of the Holy Synod. Among other work, he was asked by the Synod to undertake the long and unpleasant journey to Tobolsk to settle a Church matter, which he carried out with his usual ability.

Most difficult was the position of the Archbishop Tikhon on the day the Revolution broke out, when he was in the Synod and the place of K. Pobedonoszeff and Sabler was taken by the undecided Lvoff. At once the revolutionary Oberprocurator, with an energy worthy of a better cause, and with the help of gendarmes, expelled the Metropolitans Pitirim and Makari, appointed by Rasputin; all the other members also had hard work to get on with Lvoff.

All the members of the Synod were replaced. The Archbishop Tikhon was also relieved of his duty. The Muscovites at this time had to choose an Archbishop in place of the Metropolitan Makari, and they chose the Archbishop Tikhon.

What influenced this choice, so unexpected even for Tikhon himself? Surely the Hand of God showed him the way to that path, wherein he now works for the Holy Church and to save his Fatherland. In Moscow he was not well known. From Moscow priests and laymen travelled to Petrograd to make inquiries about the different candidates; at the meeting called upon their arrival many names were mentioned, among others that of the Archbishop Tikhon, but nothing was settled. At the [14/15] preliminary voting the name of the Archbishop was also not in the first line; A. D. Samarin had more votes, and it was only by the decisive voting in the Cathedral, before the ancient relic of Moscow, the Vladimir Ikon of the Blessed Virgin, that by far the greater majority of votes fell to the Archbishop Tikhon. He was elected, and confirmed by the Holy Synod. It may be that the nearness of Jaroslav to Moscow had something to do with this; the people of Jaroslav knew Tikhon well.

Moscow met her chosen prelate with joy and honours. He very soon became a favourite with the Muscovites, the ecclesiastics and the laymen. He receives them all alike with gentle speech; he refuses no one advice, help, and his blessing. Soon it was known that the Archbishop was very willing to officiate at the services in any church, so he was soon overwhelmed with invitations by the priests in charge, and, where possible, he never refused. After the services the Archbishop willingly paid visits to members of the congregation, to their great joy. In the short time since his appointment almost all Moscow knows its Archbishop--knows him, respects him, and loves him : this the people showed afterwards.

When the conflagration of the Revolution spread, the power which supported the Church collapsed. It was plain to all Church-people that a Church Council ought to be called without loss of time, [15/16] which would give to the Church new authority and consolidated rules. The Synod elected a subcommittee of the Church Council to work out all questions in connection with the immediate meeting of the Council itself, and in this work the Archbishop Tikhon took a large part. When it was decided that the Council should meet in Moscow on the 15th of August, 1917, the new Moscow Archpriest had much to do in arranging for the reception and housing of all the members coming to Moscow so hurriedly. Such a Church Council had not met in Russia for over 200 years. Everything was new to them; all details had to be settled so that the work of the Council could be carried on without let or hindrance. The Archbishop himself inspected all the apartments set aside for the meetings of the Council and for the members, and drove round to all the monasteries where the Bishops were housed, of which there were more than sixty. And if the Council could work from the beginning without hindrance, if the members could meet and live without luxuries and comforts, but with all necessaries, it was the Moscow prelate who made it possible.

The members of the Council at once appreciated him; he was elected President of the Council, with the title of Metropolitan. This election enabled all the visitors, some from the farthest corners of the great Empire, to get personally acquainted with him, to appreciate his great character, his neverceasing [16/17] amiability, his great wisdom, and his tact. Few had known him before; he was a retiring man, who never put himself forward.

The first question before the meeting was the restoring of the Patriarchate in Russia, which had been annulled by Peter the Great to make the Emperors autocratic and give them every power. It was decided to re-elect a Patriarch. It was just then that the Bolshevik regime began. In Moscow a cannonade was going on all the time; the Bolsheviks were bombarding the Kremlin, where a small party of cadets were still holding out. When the Kremlin surrendered, all at the Council were extremely anxious as to the fate of the young people who had fallen into the hands of the Bolsheviks, and for the fate of the Holy Relics of Moscow, which had been under fire. And so the first to hurry into the Kremlin, at the head of a few members of the Council, as soon as it was possible to enter, was the Metropolitan Tikhon. I remember with what emotion the Council heard his graphic report as soon as he returned from the Kremlin, having been in great anxiety for his safety during his absence. Some of the members who had gone with him returned when they were halfway, full of the terrible things they had seen, but all witnessed to the fact that the Metropolitan walked quite calmly, taking no notice of the brutality of the revolutionaries, who were revenging themselves on the unfortunate [17/18] cadets; and he went everywhere, where he thought it was necessary. The greatness of his soul was very apparent at that time.

Without loss of time the election of a Patriarch was begun, in the fear that the Bolsheviks would disperse the Council. It was decided that by the voting of all the members three candidates were to be elected, and then the will of God was to manifest itself by the casting of lots for one of those three. And thus, having prayed most earnestly, the members began to file past the urns bearing those candidates' names. The majorities fell on the Metropolitans of Kharkoff and Novgorod--Tikhon was the third and last. Then, before the Vladimir Ikon of the Blessed Virgin, brought for the purpose from the Cathedral of the Assumption to the St. Saviour's Cathedral, after the Liturgy had been said, a monk, a member of the Council, took from the urns one of the three papers with the names of the candidates, and the late Metropolitan of Kieff, Vladimir, read out the name of the chosen one--Metropolitan Tikhon. How well I remember with what dignity and calmness and with what a full sense of his responsibilities His Eminence Tikhon received his nomination as the chosen of God! He did not covet the position, but the choice did not alarm or excite him; his quiet acceptance of God's Will was apparent to all. When the deputation of the members, headed by the highest dignitaries, entered the [18/19] Church of the Holy Trinity with the good tidings of the election of God's chosen servant and to congratulate the new Patriarch, His Eminence came out of the sanctuary in his Archbishop's robes and in a calm voice began to recite the short service of thanksgiving. In returning thanks for the good wishes of the Council, of the Synod, and of the Priesthood of Moscow, the Patriarch had a gentle and kind word for all. Then it was he took a vow--to defend the Orthodox Church till death--and he is now showing to all the world that it was no empty vow, but that it was made with his whole soul and with full consciousness of what he was doing.

The Metropolitan Tikhon spent the time before his Consecration in the Monastery of the Holy Trinity, near Moscow, preparing himself for his high office. A commission of the Church Council worked out in all haste the order of the ceremonies, long ago forgotten in Russia, and the distinctions required in the Church vestments peculiar to his new state. The Bolsheviks at that time had not yet closed the Kremlin, and the ceremony could take place in the ancient Cathedral of the Patriarchate, that of the Assumption, where the patriarchal throne was kept on a high place; no one had occupied this throne since the last Patriarch had vacated it over 200 years before. They managed to procure, out of the rich patriarchal sacristy, the vestments of the [19/20] Russian patriarchs, the crosier of the Metropolitan Peter, the mitre and the hood with white veil of the Patriarch Nikon, and so on. It is interesting to note that the hood and mantle of Nikon fitted the Patriarch perfectly.

The great church ceremony took place in the Cathedral of the Assumption on the 21st of November, 1917. Solemnly sounded the great bell from the tower of Ivan Veliki; round about the great crowd surged; it filled not only the Kremlin, but also the Red Square, where all the Church processions, with their banners and ikons, were gathered from every church in Moscow. During the Liturgy two of the chief Metropolitans, while the "Axios" was being sung, led the chosen of God on to the patriarchal throne and robed him in the priestly vestments. After Mass the new Patriarch, accompanied by a Church procession with ikons and banners, walked round the Kremlin, sprinkling the walls with Holy Water. The attitude of the Bolsheviks to this ceremony was interesting. They then did not yet feel themselves masters of the situation, and did not know what position they could take as regards the Church, although their enmity towards her was very apparent. The Red soldiers standing on guard at the very doors of the Cathedral of the Assumption held themselves very freely; they did not bare their heads before the ikons and the banners; they smoked, talked loudly, and laughed. [20/21] But now the Patriarch comes out of the Cathedral, to all appearance a bent and venerable old man, in his round white hood and veil, surmounted by the cross, with the blue velvet mantle of the Patriarch Nikon; and I saw how suddenly the soldiers took off their caps and hurried to the Patriarch, stretching out their hands for his blessing through the fence of their guardhouse. It was clear that their first behaviour was simply out of bravado, but now their true feelings came to the surface, the instinct of centuries.

The Patriarch Tikhon has not changed, but has remained just the approachable, simple and gentle man he was. Just as before he takes the services in his churches willingly, not refusing any invitations to do so. People connected with him advised him to discontinue these tiring services, pointing out how he ought to uphold the patriarchal dignity; but, as it turned out, it was just this readiness and approachableness of the Patriarch that served him so well. Everybody knew him as their own; everywhere he was loved and energetically protected, when the time for the need of protection had come. Let the Bolsheviks now try to touch him, the whole of Moscow would rush out to save him--even the whole of Russia. The gentleness of the Patriarch Tikhon did not prevent him showing great resolution in Church matters, where it was necessary to defend the Church from its enemies. Even then it [21/22] was seen that the Bolsheviks would block the work of the Council or, in fact, would disperse it. Nevertheless, the Patriarch never hesitated to protest against the attacks on the Church, against any decrees destroying the very foundation of Orthodoxy, against their reign of terror or their cruelty.

All will remember the accusing message of the Patriarch ending in the excommunication of the Bolsheviks. Church processions were arranged everywhere to keep up the religious feeling among the people, and the Patriarch took part in them all. And when the sad news came of the murder of the Imperial family the Patriarch immediately held a requiem service at the meeting of the Church Council, and afterwards held a Mass for the dead, making a threatening and accusing speech reproaching the Bolsheviks for this flagrantly unjust crime.

The Moscow Church Council decided that in all questions dealing with the administration of the Church the Patriarch should act in common with the Holy Synod, consisting only of Bishops and the Church Council, which includes Bishops, priests, and laymen. The Patriarch Tikhon kept to this rule very strictly; never settled anything alone and preferring to do everything with universal consent, he often called together a meeting of the Synod and the Council. He even asked their opinion on such matters as he had power to decide for himself, although he reserved for himself the [22/23] right of acting as he himself thought best. I remember, when the accusing resolution to the Bolsheviks was composed on the anniversary of their regime, many advised the Patriarch not to take this risky step, being afraid for his life and safety. When at the meeting of the Council and Synod he read the rough draught of his message, the members all expressed their fears and pointed out that the Patriarch ought to keep himself out of danger for the sake of the Church. Tikhon listened most attentively to all they had to say, but kept his own opinion. The next Sunday he officiated in his private Church of the Holy Trinity, and after the service told those who came to him that he had signed the message, and had arranged for it to be sent to the Commissars. "Yes; he listens attentively to all, gently opposes them, but in reality he shows an iron will," said one of the members of the Council.

Every moment was one of anxiety for the life of the Patriarch. The Bolsheviks already laid their hands on the members of the Council, turned them out of one place of meeting into another; some they arrested. Alarming reports of evil designs against the Patriarch were heard. Once late at night a whole deputation of the members of the Council went to the Patriarch, well-known Bishops at their head, to tell him that the Bolsheviks had decided to arrest him and to advise him most earnestly to leave Moscow, even to go abroad--everything, they said, [23/24] was arranged for his flight. The Patriarch had already retired for the night, but came out to the deputation, calm and smiling, attentively listened to their arguments, and then firmly answered that he would go nowhere. "The flight of the Patriarch," said he, "would be playing into the hands of the enemies of the Church; they would certainly make use of it for their own ends. Let them do what they please." The deputation remained for the night at the Palace, and many were astonished at Tikhon's calmness. Thank God, the alarm was unnecessary; but the whole of Moscow was in fear for the Patriarch. The different Church Councils of the town organized a guard for the Patriarch; every night some members of the Council, taking it in turns, remained the night at the Palace, and the Patriarch made it a rule to come and talk to them. No one knows what this guard could have done if the Bolsheviks had really taken it into their heads to arrest the Patriarch; defend him with force they of course could not--also, they could not call the people to defend him, as the Bolsheviks had made it impossible to ring the alarm bells, threatening to shoot at once anyone who did so, and they even put their own guards in the belfries. But the Churchmen found a moral support for themselves in defending and being near their Patriarch, and he did not forbid it.

Without fear, he drove to the different churches [24/25] in Moscow, where he was asked to go, either in a closed carriage, so long as it was possible, and then in an open carriage; usually a subdeacon drove in front in a surplice with a cross held high in his hand. The people respectfully stood still as he passed and uncovered their heads, and I do not remember anyone saying an offensive word to him. When the Patriarch went to Bogorodsk, a manufacturing town in the government of Moscow, and afterwards to Jaroslav and to Petrograd, many were anxious lest the soldiers or the workmen should arrange some scandalous demonstration, but every fear was groundless. In Bogorodsk the workpeople received the Patriarch as before they had received their Tzar, prepared a prettily decorated pavilion for his reception, and the streets were crowded as he drove through. In Jaroslav--it was after its destructionthe Red Commissars themselves were forced to take part in the reception, dined with the Patriarch and \ were photographed with him. The events on his journey to Petrograd are' well known to all; it was a perfect triumph. The Moscow Bolshevik authorities wished to place only one small compartment in the carriage for the Patriarch's use, but the railwaymen insisted that he should have a whole reserved carriage, and all along the line met him at every station. The religious feeling innate in the Russian was shown; they sympathised with him heart and soul.

[26] In the church services the Patriarch Tikhon keeps to the same simplicity as in his own life; he has no affectations, no theatrical inclinations, but he also is very quiet. If he has to give an order, he does it quietly, politely, and any remarks are made after the service is over, and always in a gentle voice. This is rarely necessary, as all taking part in the services are imbued with the quiet devotional feelings of the Patriarch, and all have one aim, to carry all out as well as they can. I remember with what love and devotion the well-known Moscow Archdeacon Rosoff worked with the Patriarch; it is said he has tragically ended his life. The festival services of the Patriarch, with many Bishops and priests, and the crowded processionals, were always held with full ceremonial and with a great religious enthusiasm.

The Patriarch lived in the former apartments of the Moscow Bishops in the Moscow headquarters of the Sergi-Troitzki Monastery. This simple though roomy house, without pretensions, is far plainer than many of the other Bishops' houses in Russia--for instance, those in Kursk or in Stavropol. Connected with the house is the Church of the Holy Cross, where the monks of the Sergi Monastery held their daily services. Next to the altar or sanctuary there is a small oratory, full of ikons; there the Patriarch prays during the service, when he himself is not officiating. But he loves to [26/27] celebrate the service himself, and often does so in his own Church of the Cross. The house stands in a small garden, where the Patriarch likes to walk, when his work allows him. Here he often receives visitors and friends, with whom he has pleasant and affectionate discourse often to a late hour. The little garden is divided from the neighbouring yards by a strong fence, but the neighbouring children sometimes climb on this high fence, and then the Patriarch gives them apples and sweets. There is also a small orchard and vegetable and flower gardens, and even a Turkish bath, but all has got into bad condition during the time of the Revolution.

Of course, the table of the Patriarch was also very simple; black bread was served in portions, often with straw in it, and potatoes without butter. But His Eminence Tikhon had never been particular about his food; he liked it plain--Russian cabbage soup (of course, without meat) and porridge.

When leaving to visit my family in the south, I took leave of the Patriarch on the and of December, 1918. Then he lived in his own apartments, but already under house arrest; three soldiers of the Red Army occupied the bottom floor, who every evening came upstairs to see that their prisoner was there. The Patriarch could not leave the place, and could only officiate in his own church. I heard that he was afterwards allowed to drive out with permission, [27/28] but that was after I had left. He could walk in his garden and receive visitors. He bore his arrest uncomplainingly, and had no fear for the future. His great anxiety was for the fate of the Churches of Russia, but even so he was sure that the terrible trials sent by the Almighty would end well for the Church and for Russia. Then it seemed that they would soon end, and that I should soon again see the Holy Patriarch and my native place. But three years have passed, and no one can foretell when our trials will end. Years go by; we are approaching the sunset of life; will it be granted to us to see our Fatherland or receive the episcopal blessing of the Patriarch Tikhon?

On the 9th of June, 1922, when the last words were written, no one thought we would soon have to read in the papers the unexpected news from Moscow: The Patriarch Tikhon had, so it was said, resigned his holy and high office. We could expect anything, but those who knew him cannot believe that he left his hard and responsible post of his own free-will in these fatal times. Besides which, the news received from Soviet sources is that on the 12th of May a small group of Petrograd and Moscow priests, all of whom had joined the Communist powers, accused the Patriarch with "leading the Church into counter-revolutionary politics," and demanded "the instant meeting of the local Council [28/29] for the organizing of the Church and the suspension of the Patriarch till the regime of the Church was decided on." It is not known what answer the Patriarch made, but the result of the consultation with the deputation sent to him was that he, it is said, retired to his own library, and after a few minutes returned and gave the deputation the following document, signed by him and dated the 12th of May, 1922: "In view of the critical state in the management of the Church, bringing me before the civil law courts, I find it best for the good of the Church to appoint for a time, till the Council meets, one of the Metropolitans at the head of the ecclesiastical management."

As is shown, this is no "resignation" of his holy office. It is only for a time, in view of the need to appear before the civil court, and, it may be, afterwards to bear a civil penalty, to be put into prison, and so on, that the Patriarch gives over the management of ecclesiastical affairs to a Metropolitan, and he himself allows the future Church Council to judge his case. But that temporary withdrawal from the management of Church affairs does not coincide with the Patriarch's character; wise and with foresight, being well aware of his responsibilities, he would scarcely have listened to the demand of a group of unauthorized priests; he would scarcely have taken upon himself a step of such importance to the Church without the advice of the [29/30] Holy Synod and the Higher Church Council, to which he always referred in similar cases; he would scarcely have worded his resolution in such an unofficial form. It is true that the Moscow Church Council authorized the Patriarch to appoint a substitute from the higher order of priests in case of his death or forcible removal from his post, and the Patriarch has the right to summon the Church Council. The Patriarch can only be tried by this Council. But to be cited before a civil court or even imprisoned at a time like the present can only be looked upon as an honour for a Church dignitary, and give no cause for his affairs to be discussed by the Council; all the same, the accusation made by a small group of priests could influence the Patriarch to withdraw from power; the most he can do is to withdraw from being President of the Church Council during the time the accusations are under discussion, then submit to the decision of the Council--and that is all. But to give up his power now at this moment, when a storm is threatening the Church on every side, when the enemies of the Church are ready to profit by any excuse to attack her at any moment--it is not like the Patriarch to do this.

It may be that for him the "last trials" have begun; it may be that he has already joined the company of confessors, as the early Christians were, testifying fearlessly their Faith in Christ before the [30/31] heathen gathering. It may be that his martyrdom is near, when he will receive the crown of suffering and death at the hands of the godless rulers. Let us pray for him. Let us wait in trust in God's mercy. "God strengthen our Church!"

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