Sainted Photii, Metropolitan of Kiev and All Russia

Commemorated on July 2

      Sainted Photii, Metropolitan of Kiev and All Russia, was by birth a Greek from the Peloponnesian city of Monembaseia (Malbasia). While still in his adolescent years he entered a monastery and took tonsure under the monastic-elder Akakios, a great ascetic (afterwards becoming the metropolitan of Monembaseia). In 1408, when Photii was in Constantinople with the Patriarch on matters entrusted by the metropolitan, the question arose about a replacement for the Russian cathedra-chair after the death of Saint Kiprian (+ 1406, Comm. 16 September). The choice of Patriarch Matthew (1397-1410) fell upon Photii, known for his learning and holiness of life. On 1 September 1408 Saint Photii was made metropolitan and in the next year arrived in Rus'.
      He spent half an year at Kiev (September 1409-February 1410), concerning himself over the settling of affairs in the southern dioceses of the Russian Church, included then within the principality of Lithuania, or more precisely as they then called it, of Lithuania and Russia. The saint perceived that the throne of the metropolitan the spiritual centre of churchly life in Rus' could not remain in the Kiev lands, where everything increasingly fell under the dependence of Catholic Poland. Following the example of former Russian metropolitans, who transferred their place of dwelling first to Vladimir, then to Moscow, in 1410 on the day of Holy Pascha, Metropolitan Photii arrived in Moscow.
      For 22 years the saint asceticised in the difficult service of arch-hierarch of the Russian Church. In grievous conditions of war, fratricidal strife, and pillaging incursions of Tatars he knew how to highly advance the spiritual significance, the material prosperity and well-being of the churches under the Moscow cathedra. Favourable conditions in the Church allowed for Saint Photii to render great assistance to the increasingly impoverished Constantinople Patriarch, and to strengthen the international position of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian realm. The enemies of Orthodoxy more than once tried to subvert the churchly-patriotic service of Saint Photii. In the Spring of 1410, when Saint Photii arrived in Vladimir from Moscow, khan Edigei, having laid waste this portion of the Russian Land for two years, undertook a new campaign with the intent of taking captive the metropolitan himself. A Tatar detachment, headed by the princeling Talychoi "the Exile", suddenly and quickly took Vladimir. But God preserved His righteous saint: the evening before, not suspecting danger, the saint had gone off to the Svyatoozersk monastery beyond the city. When the Tatars attempted pursuit, he concealed himself in a small settlement, surrounded by impassable swamps, at the River Sen'ga. Unable to capture the metropolitan, the rapacious Tatars gave themselves over to a plundering of Vladimir, and especially the Uspensk cathedral church. The doorsman of the cathedral, Patrikei, endured terrible torments and accepted a martyr's death from the plundering Tatars, but he did not reveal the place, where the church sacred items and treasury were hidden.
      Through the efforts of holy Metropolitan Photii was restored the canonical unity of prayer of the Russian Church: the separate Lithuanian metropolitanate, established on the initiative of prince Vitovt for the southern and western eparchies (dioceses), was abolished in the year 1420. The saint this same year visited the returned eparchies and greeted the flock with a Circular Missive of teaching. The wise and highly-erudite pastor left behind many an instruction and missive. Great theological significance was had in his denunciation against the heresy of the Strigol'niki, which had arisen at Pskov prior to his time. By his wise efforts the heresy was put to an end (in 1427).
      Important Church-historical sources compiled by Saint Photii are his "Order of Selection and Installation of Bishops" (1423), "Discourse on the Seriousness of the Priestly Dignity and the Obligations of Church-servers", and also the "Spiritual Testament", in which he relates about his life. A great work of the saint was likewise the compiling under his guidance of the Obscherussk (All-Russian) Chronicle collation (in about the year 1423).
      On 20 April 1430 the holy arch-pastor was informed by an Angel about his impending end and he reposed peacefully in the time allotted him by the Lord, on the feastday of the Placing of the Robe of the Mother of God, on 2 July 1431. His relics were uncovered in the year 1471. In the Armoury Palace of the Moscow Kremlin are preserved two dalmatic-robes ("sakkos") of holy Metropolitan Photii.

1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.

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Sainted Photii,
Metropolitan of Kiev and All Russia

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