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April 7 Saints of the Day – Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow, and Albert of Tournai

On this date in 1933, prohibition was lifted for beer with 3.2% or lower alcohol content. It would be another eight months before prohibition was ended for all spirits. But at least the spirits of drinkers of cheap beer were lifted.

Tikhon, Patriarch of MoscowToday our eastern saint is Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow (1865 – 1925). Born in the Pskov (not Pshaw) district, young Vasily (his baptismal name) was prophesied as destined for greatness by his deceased grandmother, who came to his father in a dream and said as much. (Her prophecies for his two brothers weren’t so great but this isn’t their story.) After some time studying and teaching at various seminaries, where he was well-loved for his intelligence, gentle spirit, and willingness to help others with their homework, he was tonsured with the name Tikhon. Before he knew it, he was made Archimandrite and then Bishop, and sent to Lublin and then Kholm (Chelm), each at the time a melting pot of Ukrainians, Poles, Russians, Lithuanians, and probably some other people who kept their heads below the parapet. He won great acclaim and love from Russians and non-Russians alike, but (alas) he was banished to Alaska anyway.

As you might expect, he hit the permafrost running. Renaming his see the “Diocese of the Aleutians and North America” (rather than “…and Alaska”), he traveled across the continent, consecrating a church or two here, authorizing a seminary there, and in general establishing and strengthening the Orthodox faith. Quite understandably, he is referred to as the “Apostle to America.” He did so well here that he was recalled to Russia and sent to Yaroslavl, at the time a bustling metropolis of 70,000 ice-bound souls, where once again he became much beloved of the people.

After the February Revolution, he was made Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, a title that had lain dormant since Peter the Great abolished it in 1721 (he was called “great” for some other reason). Immediately Tikhon was faced with the enormity* of the October Revolution and the Russian Civil War. The Bolsheviks wasted no time attempting to destroy the Orthodox Church, and when that didn’t work, attempting to subvert it through the “Living Church” movement. Stuck between speaking out against the godless, ecclesiocidal regime on the one horn, and protecting his clergy by having them lay low on the other horn, he carefully threaded a way which in retrospect was deemed not only acceptable but worthy of sainthood. (Some thought him too accommodating of the Soviets, but few of them ended up being declared saints.) An example of his forthrightness (and sense of humor): when a sewer line broke open under Lenin’s tomb, he said, “По мощам и елей,” an allusion to myrrh-streaming icons: “The myrrh befits the relics.”

But the strain eventually broke his health, and two-thirds of the way through a triple recitation of the prayer, “Glory to thee, O Lord, glory to thee,” he entered into his rest. His funeral/laying-in-state was attended by millions, and he was glorified by the Moscow Patriarchate in 1989.

Cathedral at TournaiOur western saint today is Albert of Tournai (ca. 1060 – 1140). A pious lad, Albert was stricken with desire for the monastic life when he heard a traveling minstrel-beggar at the family’s front door singing the praises of St. Theobald. He set out for the Saint-Crespina monastery (destroyed years later by Napoleon, the cretin), where he worked as sommelier for 23 years before retiring to a private hermitage. Like many a good hermit, he quickly became a disciple-magnet, and the bishop ended up priesting him and building a chapel inside his cell (we’re talking a very large cell or a very small chapel) so his disciples wouldn’t have to hoof it to the nearest church for the sacraments. It is said he prayed the rosary 50 times a day, which is amazing considering it is also said that the rosary was first revealed to St. Dominic in 1214, some 70 years after Albert’s death. Once again, we are forced to consider the time travel explanation.


Copyright © 2013 Alex Riggle. All Rights Reserved.
H/T to Inga Leonova for help with translation.


*I use this word with its proper meaning, you’ll note.


Bibliography
April 7 (Wikipedia)
Glorification of St Tikhon, the Apostle to America (OCA) – Main source
Tikhon of Moscow (Wikipedia)
List of Metropolitans and Patriarchs of Moscow (Wikipedia)
Living Church (Wikipedia)
Lublin (Wikipedia)
Chelm (Wikipedia)
Yaroslavl (Wikipedia)
Aybert of Crespin, OSB (St. Patrick DC) – Main source
Saint Albert of Tournai (SQPN)

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About Your Intrepid Blogger

I live in the Tacoma area. When not writing things some people think are funny, I teach technology to 7th and 8th graders at a local middle school.

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