Friday, June 19, 2015

St. John (Maximovitch) the Wonderworker

St. John (Maximovitch), Archbishop of Shanghai and San Francisco (1896-1966), was a diocesan Bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) who served widely from China to France to the United States.

The future St. John was born on June 4, 1896, in the southern Russian village (current day Ukraine) of Adamovka in Kharkiv province to pious aristocrats, Boris and Glafira Maximovitch. He was given the baptismal name of Michael, after the Holy Archangel Michael.
In his youth, Michael was sickly and had a poor appetite, but he displayed an intense religious interest. He was educated at the Poltava Military School (1907-14), Kharkiv Imperial University, from which he received a law degree (in 1918), and the University of Belgrade (where he completed his theological education in 1925).
He and his family fled their country as the Bolshevik revolutionaries descended on the country, emigrating to Yugoslavia. There, he enrolled in the Department of Theology of the University of Belgrade. He was tonsured a monk in 1926 by Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky) of Kharkov. Met. Anthony later in 1926 ordained him a Hierodeacon. Bishop Gabriel of Chelyabinsk ordained him Hieromonk on November 21, 1926. Subsequent to his ordination, he began an active life of teaching in a Serbian high school and serving, at the request of local Greeks and Macedonians, in the Greek language. With the growth of his popularity, the bishops of the Russian Church Aboard resolved to elevate him to the episcopate.
Hieromonk John was consecrated a bishop on May 28, 1934, with Met. Anthony serving as principal consecrator, after which he was assigned to the Diocese of Shanghai. Twelve years later, he was named Archbishop of China. Upon his arrival in Shanghai, Bp. John began working to restore unity among the various Orthodox nationalities. In time, he worked to build a large cathedral that was dedicated to Surety of Sinners Icon to the Mother of God, with a bell tower and large parish house. Additionally, he inspired many activities: building of churches, hospitals, and orphanages among the Orthodox and Russians of Shanghai. He was intensely active, constantly praying and serving the daily cycle of services, while also visiting the sick with the Holy Gifts. He often would walk barefooted even in the coldest days. Yet to avoid the appearance of secular glory, he would pretend to act the fool.
With the end of World War II and the coming to power of the Communists in China, Bp. John led the
exodus of his community from Shanghai in 1949. Initially, he helped some 5,000 refugees to a camp on the island of Tubabao in the Philippines, while he traveled successfully to Washington, D.C., to lobby to amending the law to allow these refugees to enter the United States. It was while on this trip that Bp. John took time to establish a parish in Washington dedicated to St. John the Forerunner.
In 1951, Abp. John was assigned to the Archdiocese of Western Europe with his cathedra in Paris, France. During his time there, he also served as Archpastor of the Orthodox Church of France, whose restored Gallican liturgy he studied and then celebrated. He was the principal consecrator of the Orthodox Church of France's first modern bishop, Jean-Nectaire (Kovalevsky) of Saint-Denis, and ordained to the priesthood the man who would become its second bishop, Germain (Bertrand-Hardy) of Saint-Denis.
In 1962, Abp. John was assigned to the Diocese of San Francisco, CA succeeding his long time friend Abp. Tikhon. Abp. John's days in San Francisco were to prove sorrowful as he attempted to heal the great disunity in his community. He was able to bring peace such that the new cathedral, dedicated to the Joy of all Who Sorrow Icon of the Mother of God, was completed.
Deeply revering St. John of Kronstadt, Abp. John played an active role in preparation of his canonization.
St. John  reposed during a visit to Seattle on July 2, 1966, while accompanying a tour of the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God. He was laid to rest in a crypt chapel under the main altar of the new cathedral.

A book about his life for children:
Saint John and Goolya
 "The Life of St. John, Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco" (for Children) by Maria Naumenko
One craft you can do with your child is to color "Goolya" the pigeon - St. John's own companion!

 A tribute to St. John Maximovitch!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

St. Kevin of Glendalough

St. Kevin is an Irish saint who was known as the founder and first abbot of Glendalough in County Wicklow, Ireland.  He was the son of Coemlog and Coemell of Leinster, and was born in 498 at the Fort of the White Fountain were Leinster nobility. Kevin or Coemgen (which means “the Fair Begotten”) was baptized by St. Cronan (April 28) and educated in a monastery at Cell na Manach (now Kilmanach) near Dublin. It is said that one of his teachers was St. Petroc (June 15). After his ordination he withdrew as a hermit in the upper reaches of Glendalough to a cave called “St. Kevin’s Bed” There he used a Bronze-Age tomb as an altar. He lived there for seven years clad in skins and sleeping on stones and eating nettles and wild sorrel. He was discovered in his cave by a farmer named Dima who induced him to leave his solitude. His health was so poor that he was brought down in a litter to Disert-Coemgen. There he gathered some disciples and made a settlement. Later he moved his community to the upper lake and made a permanent settlement there. According to one of the “Irish Lives” he made a pilgrimage to Rome and because of the relics he brought back, no single saint in Ireland ever obtained more from God than he except Patrick. Abbott Kevin went to visit St. Kieran, abbot of Clonmacnoise (Sept. 9) when Kieran was dying. Kieran was able to talk with him and gave him a bell. In his extreme old age he desired to make another pilgrimage to Rome, but a wise old man told him that “birds do not hatch their eggs on the wing.” He lived to be 120. Glendalough came to be one of the four main pilgrimages in Ireland. Seven visits to Glendalough being reckoned as the same as one pilgrimage to Rome. St. Kevin is one of the principal patrons of Dublin and his feast is kept all over Ireland.
In honor of St. Kevin, read "The Blackbird's Nest" with your children!
Feeling crafty? Consider making some black felt birds in honor of the birds associated with St. Kevin's story!