The Uncovering and Transfer of Relics of Sainted-Hierarchs Kiprian, Photii and Jona

Commemorated on May 27

      The Uncovering and Transfer of Relics of Sainted-Hierarchs Kiprian, Photii and Jona occurred on 27 May 1472 during the time of construction of the new stone Uspensky-Dormition cathedral in the Kremlin, under Metropolitan Philip (+ 1473, Comm. 9 January) and GreatPrince Ivan III (1462-1505). Separate days of memory of the saints are also made: Metropolitan Kiprian (+ 1406, Comm. 16 September), Metropolitan Photii (+ 1431, Comm. 2 July), Metropolitan Jona (+ 1461, Comm. 31 March).

      Sainted Kiprian, Metropolitan of Kiev and All Russia, was by origin a Serb, and asceticised at Athos. By his pious life and education he came to the attention of the Constantinople Patriarch Philotheos (1354-1355, 1362-1376), who in 1375 ordained Kiprian as Metropolitan of Kiev and Lithuania. At the Constantinople Council it was decided, to avoid a fragmentation of the Russian metropolia, that "upon the death of Sainted Alexei, he should become the Metropolitan of All Rus'". At Moscow Saint Kiprian endured many a sorrow from the great-prince, and therefore initially he lived either in Lithuania or at Constantinople. Only in the year 1390, during the time of Great-prince Vasilii Dimitrievich, was he accepted as primate at Moscow. Saint Kiprian concerned himself over the correction of the Divine-service books. There are preserved autographic manuscripts of certain Slavonic translations by the saint, witnessing to his great scientific work. And by his pastoral epistles he encouraged the faith of the Church. His activity in the translation of liturgical literature is widely known.

      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.

      Sainted Jona, Metropolitan of Moscow and WonderWorker of All Russia, was born in the city of Galich into a pious Christian family. The father of the future saint was named Feodor. At twelve years of age the youth took monastic vows in one of the Galich monasteries, from which he transferred to the Moscow Simonov monastery, where for many years he fulfilled various obediences. One time Sainted Photii, Metropolitan of Moscow (Comm. 27 May and 2 July), visited at the Simonov monastery and after the molieben, having blessed the archimandrite and brethren, wanted also to bless the monks fulfilling obedience at the monastery tasks. When he came to the bakery, he saw then the monk Jona asleep from much work, and the right hand of the fatigued monk was bent in a gesture of blessing. Sainted Photii asked not to wake him; he blessed the sleeping monk and prophetically predicted to those present, that this monk would be a great hierarch of the Russian Church and would guide many on the way to salvation.
      The prediction of the Saint was fulfilled. After several years Saint Jona was made bishop of Ryazan and Murom.
      In 1431 Saint Photii died. Five years after his death, Saint Jona was chosen Metropolitan of All Russia for his virtuous and holy life. When the newly chosen metropolitan journeyed to Patriarch Joseph II (1416-1439) in Constantinople, in order to accept confirmation as metropolitan, it turned out then, that shortly before this the nefarious Isidor, a Bulgarian by descent, was already established as Russian metropolitan. Spending a short while at Kiev and Moscow, Isidor journeyed to the Council of Florence (1438), where he accepted Uniatism. A Sobor / Council of Russian hierarchs and clergy deposed metropolitan Isidor, and he was compelled to flee secretly to Rome (where he died in 1462). Saint Jona was unanimously chosen Metropolitan of All Russia. His consecration by the blessing of the Constantinople Patriarch Gregory III (1445-1450) was the first time that it was done by Russian hierarchs in Moscow. On 15 December 1448 Saint Jona became Metropolitan and with arch-pastoral zeal he began to assert piety among the flock, encouraging the Orthodox faith in the land by word and by deed. And beneathe his exalted dignity he continued as before with his personal monastic efforts.
      In 1451 the Tatars unexpectedly advanced on Moscow; they burned the surroundings and prepared for an assault on the city. Metropolitan Jona with clergy made procession along the walls of the city, with tears beseeching God for the salvation of city and people. Beholding the dying monk Antonii of the Chudov monastery, who was noted for his virtuous life, Saint Jona said: "My son and brother Antonii! Pray to the Merciful God and the All-Pure Mother of God for the deliverance of the city and all Orthodox Christians". The humble Antonii replied: "Great hierarch! We give thanks to God and His All-Pure Mother, She hath heard thy prayer and hath besought Her Son, the city and all Orthodox Christians wilt be saved through thine prayers. The enemy will soon take flight. Only I alone am destined by the Lord to be killed by the enemies". Just as the elder said this, an enemy arrow struck him.
      The prediction of Starets Antonii occurred: on 2 July, on the feast of the Placing of the Robe of the MostHoly Mother of God, confusion broke out in the ranks of the Tatars, and in unexplained fear and terror they turned to flight. Saint Jona built in his courtyard a temple in honour of the Placing of the Robe of the MostHoly Mother of God , in memory of the deliverance of Moscow from the enemies.
      The blessed end of Saint Jona followed in the year 1461. By the grave of the Saint began to occur numerous healings.
      In 1472 the relics of holy Metropolitan Jona were opened undecayed and placed in the Uspensky Sobor / Cathedral of the Kremlin (the feast of Transfer of the holy Relics is celebrated 27 May). A Sobor of the Russian Church in 1547 established the individual day of memory to Sainted Jona, Metropolitan of Moscow. In 1596 Patriarch Job established the celebration to Sainted Jona in the Sobor / Assemblage of other Moscow Hierarchs, on 5 October.

1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.

Close window

                            

Close window