About Our Patron Saint
After obtaining land for a permanent location, Metropolitan Hilarion blessed a new permanent name for our mission in December of 2018 and was rededicated to St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco, a prominent Russian-American bishop, missionary, writer, and wonder-working ascetic of the 20th century.
St. John (Maximovitch), known as St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco, was born in 1896 grew up in pre-Revolutionary Russia. In 1921, amid continued rising violence and other persecution against Orthodox believers by the Bolshevik regime, he and his family escaped to Belgrade.
In 1924 he was ordained a reader, and in 1926 tonsured as a monk and renamed for St. John of Tobolsk, made a hierodeacon, and later that year a hieromonk/priest. His Bishop was Nicholas Velimirovich—a noted preacher, poet, writer, and later saint--who helped to mentor him along with Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky, the primate of the Russian Synod in exile. St. John's own seminary students in Yugoslavia soon came to appreciate how he barely slept, an ascetic practice he continued for the rest of his life, without ever actually sleeping in a bed.
Archbishop Averky of the Jordanville Holy Trinity monastery, then a young hieromonk in Carpatho-Russia, witnessed the deep impression Hieromonk John made upon the seminary students, inspiring them with the high ideals of Christianity and of Holy Russia. In 1934, he was made a Bishop.
During the rest of his earthly life he was known for his healing prayers and gift of clairvoyance, his caring pastorship, and his ascetic devotion to the faith. His many labors included caring for an orphanage in Shanghai where he pastored Russian exiles, then fleeing again from communism with the orphans to the United States. He also helped to revive the veneration of the Orthodox saints of Western Europe from the first millennium.
As a bishop in his final years in San Francisco he helped complete construction of a new cathedral that had been halted by disputes, and gained a reputation as a "holy fool," which sometimes earned him criticism from the worldly. Among many, he helped mentor the American convert Fr. Seraphim Rose, whose writings on Orthodoxy would become an inspiration to many other Americans converting to the faith.
On July 2, 1966, St. John reposed in the Lord, having foreseen his death, beneath the Kursk Root icon, with which he was traveling in Seattle. Since his repose, many have sought his intercession before God for all manner of problems and have found help, as he continues through his prayers to help the Orthodox flock in America and elsewhere. He has become one of the most beloved saints of the twentieth century in the Russian Orthodox tradition, and a number of the faithful in our mission have been touched directly or indirectly in their faith lives by his legacy, to which this mission now humbly and with gratitude to God also bears testimony.
Holy Hierarch John, pray to God for us!
The Feast Days of St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco is celebrated on June 19 o.s./July 2 n.s. (civil calendar) and Sept. 29 o.s./Oct. 12 n.s..