St. Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia
Patriarch Tikhon was probably the greatest martyr of the Russian Church during the period of its persecution by the communists.
Patriarch Tikhon, born Vassily Ivanovich Bellavin, on January 19th, 1865 in Toropets, Pskov providence, was the son of a local priest. He graduated from the Seminary of Pskov and entered the Ecclesiastical Academy of St. Petersburg. In 1888, Vassily Bellavin graduated from the Academy and was appointed teacher of the Seminary of Pskov. In 1891, he took the vows and wa given the name Tikhon. In 1898, he was ordained Bishop and appointed to the Aleutian ? Alaskan
Diocese in North America, where he stayed for seven years. In recognition of his administrative talents and abilities, he was elevated to the rank of Archbishop in 1905 and in 1907, was appointed to the Diocese of Yaroslavl, where he won the hearts of everyone. Later on, he was transferred to the town of Vilno. In 1917, Archbishop Tikhon was elected and confirmed by the Holy Synod to head the Moscow Diocese.
In 1917 ? 1918, the Holy Council of the Russian Church took place in Moscow and Archbishop Tikhon was elevated to the rank of Metropolitan. This Council proceeded with the election of a Patriarch, before the communists dissolved the Council. From the three elected candidates: Archbishop Anthony of Kharkov, Metropolitan Tikhon of Moscow and Archbishop Arseny of Novgorod, a monk drew out of an urn the name of the one chosen by God. It was that of Metropolitan Tikhon, who became the Holy Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.
As head of all the Russian Hierarchs, Patriarch Tikhon never changed, but remained the same simple, gentle and easily accessible man he had always been. But he became firm, especially when defending the Church against the communists. He anathematized the godless government for the brutal killing of innocent people, for the violation of religious freedom, for the closing of monasteries and churches and for the thefts of church properties. In May 1922, the Patriarch was arrested. Immediately, the communists organized a new Church administration, the so-called "Renovators". After his liberation from prison, the "Renovators" movement did not have any success. The ever-increasing popularity of the Patriarch alarmed the communists who invented new excuses to discredit him. The communist press accused the Patriarch of having connections with Russian emigrants. The persecution of the Church and the clergy was then renewed with increase cruelty. His assistants and followers were arrested and exiled.
After remaining three months in a hospital, Patriarch Tikhon reposed on March 25, 1925. On the day of the Patriarch's funeral, the streets of Moscow were over flowing. All of the Churches in Moscow rang their bells. The body of Patriarch Tikhon was buried in one of the Churches of the Donskoy Monastery. On his grave was placed an oak cross with the words: "Tikhon, Holy Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia. March 25,1925".