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Commemorated on January 9th

St Philip, Metropolitan of Moscow


Our Father among the Saints Philip, Metropolitan of Moscow, was born in 1507 AD of noble family, and served for a time in the royal court. While still a young man, he secretly left Moscow and entered Solovki Monastery in the north, about the year 1538 AD, a little over a hundred years after its founding. Because of his spiritual stature, he was chosen against his will to succeed Abbot Alexis in 1548 AD. As abbot, Philip was a great builder and beautifier of Solovki Monastery. He laid the foundations for the Cathedral of the Transfiguration, constructed cells, hermitages, and a hospital for the monks and for pilgrims, established a cattle yard on one of the islands, drained swamps and connected waterways by a series of canals and dams, built a mill and various workshops, and even invented ingenious machines and implements to help the monks in their work. His fame spread, and in 1566 AD, by the will of Tsar Ivan the Fourth he was raised to the rank of Metropolitan of Moscow.

Tsar Ivan the Terrible revered Philip, even as Herod had revered St John the Baptist, and he had been a generous benefactor of Solovki Monastery, but because the Tsar had established the Oprichnina, a state within a state, giving power to the Oprichniki, who used it to oppress and rob the innocent. Philip told him that he could not be Metropolitan if the Tsar suffered the oprichniki to continue in power. This angered the Tsar; he told Philip that it was not for him to interfere in matters of state, and many Hierarchs prevailed upon Philip to accept the Metropolitan's throne. However, as the horrors committed by the oprichniki grew worse, including thefts, false accusations, murders, and all manner of injustice and rapacity, with the knowledge of the Sovereign, St Philip could not remain silent. He rebuked the Tsar once and again for the reign of terror that he had brought upon his own people. The Tsar warned him to hold his peace and bless him to do as he wished. The Metropolitan answered that his silence brought sin upon the Sovereign. The Tsar threatened him with his wrath, and told him to resign his throne if he were not willing to comply. St Philip answered that he had not sought the Metropolitan's throne, and it was the Tsar who had deprived him of his hermitage on Solovki; but now that the pastoral burden was upon him, he would not remain silent when the canons of the Church were broken.

The more the Tsar threatened Philip with his wrath, the more the holy Hierarch stood fast and threatened the Tsar with the judgment of God; Philip alone had the courage to rebuke the Tsar openly and oppose his iniquity. Finally the Tsar, finding false witnesses against Philip in his own monastery on Solovki, held a council against him in early November, 1568 AD; the Saint had to endure the persecution of the Tsar who had torn him from his beloved monastery, the betrayal of his fellow Hierarchs, and the slanders of his own spiritual children. He was imprisoned in Moscow, but because of the love of the people for him, the Tsar feared him even in prison, and he was transferred to a monastery in Tver, where he spent a year in great hardships and continual prayer. On December 23, 1569 AD, a royal messenger came, asking the Metropolitan's blessing for the Tsar's expedition to Novgorod. St Philip told him to do that which he came to do, then raised his hands in prayer to God. The Tsar's messenger fell upon him and suffocated the holy Hierarch with a pillow. In 1591 AD his relics were transferred to Solovki, and in 1652 AD to the Dormition Cathedral in Moscow; many miracles were wrought through his holy relics.

Dismissal Hymn of the Martyr (Fourth Tone)

Be quick to anticipate

Your Martyr, O Lord, in his courageous contest for you received as the prize the crowns of perfection and life from you, our immortal God. For since he possessed your strength, he cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons' powerless presumption. O Christ God, by his prayers, save our souls, since you are merciful.

Dismissal Hymn of the Hierarch (Plagal of Fourth Tone)

O successor of first prelates, pillar of Orthodoxy, champion of truth, new confessor, St Philip, you laid down thy life for thy flock. Wherefore, since you have boldness with Christ, pray for us and them that worthily honour you holy memory.

Kontakion of the Martyr (Fourth Tone)

On this day You have appeared

When the Saviour bowed His head within the Jordan, there He crushed the dragons' heads; as for His trophy-bearing Saint, when Polyeuctos' head was cut off, he put to shame the deceiver and wily foe.

Kontakion of the Hierarch (Third Tone)

Let us praise most wise Philip, guide and teacher of Orthodoxy, herald of truth, emulator of Chrysostom, lamp of Russia, who fed his children spiritually with the food of his words; for by chanting praise with his tongue, he taught us to chant with our lips as an initiate of the grace of God.