St John of San Francisco
While punishing the Russian people, the Lord at the same time is pointing out the way to salvation by making them teachers of Orthodoxy throughout the world. The Russian Diaspora has acquainted the four corners of the earth with Orthodoxy.
--Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco, 1938
John Maximovitch was born in Russia in 1896. He was consecrated as Bishop of Shanghai by Metropolitan Anthony Kraphovitsky, leader of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, in 1934 and became head of the Western European Diocese of ROCA in 1950. Loved and revered by his flock, known for clairvoyance and wonderworking (though he denied possessing these gifts), a man of prayer who seldom slept, who wore sandals or went barefoot in public long before it was deemed acceptable, who spoke with a pronounced lisp, Vladika John (as he was called) made a strong impression on all he encountered.
Appointed Archbishop of Western American and San Francisco in 1962, he spent the last four years of his life in the USA. Archbishop John was glorified by the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad in 1994. His relics are venerated at the Holy Virgin Cathedral “Joy of All Who Sorrow” in San Francisco.
Earlier in the report on the condition of Russian exiles quoted from above, he said: “The ones guilty of the regicide are not only those who physically performed the deed but the people as a whole, who rejoiced when the Tsar was overthrown and allowed his degradation, his arrest and exile, leaving him defenceless in the hands of criminals, which itself spelled out the end. Thus, the calamity which befell Russia is the direct result of terrible sins, and her rebirth is possible only after she has been cleansed from them. . . . By not voicing an outright condemnation of the February Revolution, of the uprising against the Anointed One of God, the Russian people continue to participate in the sin, especially when they defend the fruits of the Revolution.”
It is interesting to compare St John’s view with that of Wulfstan, Archbishop of York during the reign of King Ethelred, who in his famous “Address of the Wolf to the English People” in 1014, blames the sufferings of the English at the hands of the rampaging Vikings on the sins of the people, on the “slayers of kinsmen, and slayers of priests and persecutors of monasteries . . . perjurers and murderers . . . harlots and infanticides . . . plunderers and robbers and spoliators.” As the worst of the peoples’ sins, Wulfstan singles out those who are “betrayers of their lord” and gives as an example the terrible crime his land had witnessed a generation earlier: “For people betrayed Edward and then killed him.” Both St John and Archbishop Wulfstan see their lands’ trials and upheavals as the consequence of evil deeds, the chief of which was regicide. Both call their nations to repentance.