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Saint Tikhon of Moscow ( – April 7, 1925), born Vasily Ivanovich Bellavin ( ), was the 11th Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia of the Russian Orthodox Church during the early years of the Soviet Unionmarker, 1917 through 1925.

Early life

From 1878 to 1883, Vasily studied at the Pskovmarker Theological Seminary. In 1888, at the age of 23, he graduated from the Saint Petersburgmarker Theological Academy as a layman. He then returned to the Pskov Seminary and became an instructor of Moral and Dogmatic Theology. In 1891, at the age of 26, he took monastic vows and was given the name Tikhon in honor of St. Tikhon of Zadonsk. Tikhon was consecrated Bishop of Lublinmarker on October 19, 1897. On September 14, 1898, Bishop Tikhon was made Bishop of the Aleutiansmarker and Alaskamarker. As head of the Russian Orthodox Church in America he reorganized the diocese and changed its name from "Diocese of the Aleutians and Alaska" to "Diocese of the Aleutians and North America" in 1900. While living in the United Statesmarker Archbishop Tikhon was made a citizen of the United States.

He had two vicar bishops in the United States: Bishop Innocent (Pustynsky) in Alaska, and St. Raphael (Hawaweeny) in Brooklyn. In June 1905, St. Tikhon gave his blessing for the establishment of St. Tikhon's Monastery in Pennsylvaniamarker. On May 22, 1901, he blessed the cornerstone for St. Nicholas Cathedral in New Yorkmarker, and was also involved in establishing other churches in North America. On November 9, 1902, he consecrated the church of St. Nicholas in Brooklynmarker for the Syrian Antiochian Orthodox immigrants. Two weeks later, he consecrated St. Nicholas Cathedral in New York.

In 1907, he returned to Russia, and was appointed Bishop of Yaroslavlmarker. He was transferred to Vilniusmarker, Lithuaniamarker on December 22, 1913. On June 21, 1917, he was elected the ruling bishop of Moscowmarker by the Diocesan Congress of clergy and laity. On August 15, 1917, Archbishop Tikhon was raised to the dignity of Metropolitan of Moscow. On November 5 of the same year, after an election as one of the three candidates for the reinstated Moscow Patriarchate, Metropolitan Vladimir of Kievmarker announced that Metropolitan Tikhon had been selected for the position after a drawing of lots as the new Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church.


During the Russian Civil War the Patriarch was widely seen as anti-Bolshevik and many members of Orthodox clergy were jailed or executed by the new regime. Tikhon openly condemned the killings of the tsar's family in 1918, and protested against violent attacks by the Bolsheviks on the Church.

During the famine in 1922 the Patriarch was accused of being a saboteur by the Communist government, for which he was imprisoned from April 1922 until June 1923 in Donskoy Monastery. Among acts incriminated to him was his public protest against nationalization of the property of the Church. This caused international resonance and was a subject of several notes to the Soviet government.

Under pressure from the authorities, Patriarch Tikhon issued several messages to the believers in which he stated in part that he was "no longer an enemy to the Soviet power". Textual analysis of these messages shows considerable similarity with a number of documents exchanged in the Bolshevik Politburo on the "Tikhon's Affair". Despite his declaration of loyalty, he continued to enjoy the trust of the Orthodox community in Russiamarker. In 1923 Patriarch Tikhon was "deposed" by a Soviet-sponsored council of the so-called Living Church, which decreed that he was "henceforth a simple citizen—Vasily Bellavin." This deposition has never been recognized as an act of the Russian Orthodox Church, and is therefore considered invalid by authorities of both the Russian Orthodox Church, and the Russian Federation (the sole successor of the Russian Empire, and the legal successor of the Soviet Union).

When the sewerage system under the hastily erected first Mausoleum of Leninmarker was damaged and a leak happened, Tikhon remarked, "The balm accords with the relics" ( ). The phrase was widely quoted.

In 1924 the Patriarch fell ill and was hospitalized. On 5 April, 1925, he served his last Divine Liturgy, and died two days later, 25 March (O.S.)/7 April, the Feast of the Annunciation. He was buried on 12 April in the winter church of Donskoy Monastery in Moscowmarker. From the time of his death, he was widely considered a martyr or confessor for the faith.


Patriarch Tikhon was glorified (canonized) a saint by the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia in conjunction with the great glorification of the New Martyrs and Confessors of the Soviet Yoke on . He was later glorified by the Moscow Patriarchate during the Bishop's Council of October 9—11, 1989. This later canonization process is generally considered an example of the thaw in Church-Sovietmarker relations during the Glasnost era.

St Tikhon's relics were believed lost, but on February 19, 1992 (or, according to another source, February 22) they were discovered in a concealed place in the Donskoy Monastery and were found to be almost entirely incorrupt. The relics were placed in a reliquary and on , fifty bishops solemnly transferred them to the Catholicon (main church) of the Donskoy Monastery in a place of honour by the soleas (close to the sanctuary).

See also


  1. "Красный" Собор (The "Red" Council), by Matthew Sotnikov

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