St John Maximovitch of San Francisco and Shanghai
Welcome to our Special Page honoring Archbishop John the Wonderworker,
who shown forth in America, a portion of whose relics have been gifted to our parish. Scroll down for a powerful sermon by St John, resources on his life, books and icons available for ordering, and a recent DVD production about this beloved modern saint. St John's witness, instruction and intercessions have changed lives - May we have his blessing!
St John is commemorated on July 2, and on the Sunday of All Saints of North America (the second Sunday after Pentecost).
A Living Proof of the Burning Faith
New for 2014
A Living Proof of the Burning Faith: On St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco
In one of the Catholic churches of Paris, a priest strove to inspire his young people with these words: “you demand proofs, you say that now there are neither miracles nor saints. Why should I give you theoretical proofs, when today there walks in the streets of Paris a saint – Saint Jean Nu-Pieds (St. John the Barefoot)”.
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In The Footsteps of St John of Shanghai and San Francisco
Posted on the Russian Orthodox news site, Pravmir.com, is a comprehensive photo essay on beloved hierarch St. John Maximovitch. Featuring over three dozen images (including some never before published), this special visual history provides a wonderful overview of the saint's life and the Russian Orthodox community in San Francisco where he was archpastor.
Stand Fast and Watch: A Sermon by St John the Wonderworker
Stand Fast and Watch
Stand fast on spiritual watch, because you don’t know when the Lord will call you to Himself. In your earthly life be ready at any moment to give Him an account. Beware that the enemy does not catch you in his nets, that he not deceive you causing you to fall into temptation. Daily examine your conscience; try the purity of your thoughts, your intentions.
There was a king who had a wicked son. Having no hope that he would change for the better, the father condemned the son to death. He gave him a month to prepare.
The month went by, and the father summoned the son. To his surprise he saw that the young man was noticeably changed: his face was thin and drawn, and his whole body looked as if it had suffered.
“How is it that such a transformation has come over you, my son?” the father asked.
“My father and my lord,” replied the son, “how could I not change when each passing day brought me closer to death?”
“Good, my son,” remarked the king. “Since you have evidently come to your senses, I shall pardon you. However, you must maintain this vigilant disposition of soul for the rest of your life.”
“Father,” replied the son, “that’s impossible. How can I withstand the countless seductions and temptations?”
Then the king ordered that a vessel be brought, full of oil, and he told his son:
“Take this vessel and carry it along all the streets of the city. Following you will be two soldiers with sharp swords. If you spill so much as a single drop they will cut off your head.”
The son obeyed. With light, careful steps, he walked along all the streets, the soldiers accompanying him, and he did not spill a drop.
When he returned to the castle, the father asked,
“My son, what did you see as you were walking through the city?”
“I saw nothing.”
“What do you mean, ‘nothing’?” said the king. “Today is a holiday; you must have seen the booths with all kinds of trinkets, many carriages, people animals…”
“I didn’t notice any of that,” said the son. “All my attention was focused on the oil in the vessel. I was afraid to spill a drop and thereby lose my life.”
“Quite right, my son,” said the king. “Keep this lesson in mind for the rest of you life. Be as vigilant over your soul as you were today over the oil in the vessel. Turn your thoughts away from what will soon pass away, and keep them focused on what is eternal. You will be followed not by armed soldiers but by death to which we are brought closer by every day. Be very careful to guard your soul from all ruinous temptations.”
The Apostle gives Christians this important counsel to bring their attention to the danger of this world, to summon them to frequent examination of their hearts, because without this one can easily bring to ruin the purity and ardor of one’s faith and unnoticeably cross over to the side of evil and faithlessness.
Just as a basic concern is to be careful of anything that might be harmful to our physical health, so our spiritual concern should watch out for anything that might harm our spiritual life and the work of faith and salvation. Therefore, carefully and attentively assess your inner impulses: are they from God or from the spirit of evil? Beware of temptations from this world and from worldly people; beware of hidden inner temptations which come from the spirit of indifference and carelessness in prayer, from the waning of Christian love.
If we turn our attention to our mind, we notice a torrent of successive thoughts and ideas. This torrent is uninterrupted; it is racing everywhere and at all times: at home, in church, at work, when we read, when we converse. It is usually called thinking, writes Bishop Theophan the Recluse, but in fact it is a disturbance of the mind, a scattering, a lack of concentration and attention. The same happens with the heart. Have you ever observed the life of the heart? Try it even for a short time and see what you find.
Something unpleasant happens, and you get irritated; some misfortune occurs, and you pity yourself; you see someone whom you dislike, and animosity wells up within you; you meet one of your equals who has now outdistanced you on the social scale, and you begin to envy him; you think of your talents and capabilities, and you begin to grow proud… All this is rottenness: vainglory, carnal desire, gluttony, laziness, malice-one on top of the other, they destroy the heart.
“Man’s heart is filled with poisonous serpents. Only the hearts of saints are free from these serpents, the passions.”
But such freedom is attained only through a long and difficult process of self-knowledge, working on oneself and being vigilant towards one’s inner life, i.e., the soul.
Be careful. Watch out for your soul! Turn your thoughts away from what will soon pass away and turn them towards what is eternal. Here you will find the happiness that your soul seeks, that your heart thirsts for.
The Life of St John Maximovitch
Born in the Ukraine in 1896, St. John first attended a military academy but when his family fled to Yugoslavia at the time of the Russian Revolution, he then switched to study theology, was tonsured a monk, and later ordained a priest. Because of his asceticism and great zeal, he was revered by many as a truly angelic man, an icon of a true monk. Consecrated a bishop at age 39, in 1934 he was sent to Shanghai where he built churches, an orphanage, and a hospital. When the Communist Party came to power in China, he fled with most of the Russian emigrees to the Philippines, going next to Paris and then Brussels.
In 1962, St. John was appointed Archbishop of Western America and San Francisco, and celebrated Divine Liturgy daily, prayed all night (sleeping only about 45 minutes a night in short naps) and visited the sick. He comforted and healed many people, both Orthodox and non-Orthodox alike. This great wonder-worker died in 1966. His incorrupt relics were uncovered at his Cathedral 26 years later, and in 1994 he was glorified as a universal saint.
- A Short Life of St John in PDF format (All Saints of North America Orthodox Church)
- More Resources on St John Maximovitch (All Saints of North America Orthodox Church)
- The Life and Miracles of Archbishop John Maximovitch (adapted from the book by St Herman Press)
O Holy Archpastor John,
Wonderworker of San Francisco and Shanghai,
pray unto God for us!
Revesting of the Relics of St John - October 25, 2011
On Tuesday, October 25, 2011, the relics of St. John of Shanghai & San Francisco were re-vested by the assembled clergy of the Western American Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia. I was privileged to be present at and to participate in this rite and would like to share it with the members of our diocese and my parishioners.
The relics of incorrupt saints are re-vested periodically. The re-vesting is an opportunity to examine the condition of the relics and the reliquary that houses them, and is an important part of our care for the saint. Some saints are re-vested frequently (for example, St. Spyridon’s slippers are famously replaced every year as they become worn); others are re-vested less frequently. In the case of St. John, this is the first re-vesting of the Saint to take place since his Glorification seventeen years ago.
The rite was announced to us during the morning session of our Pastoral Conference, during which Archimandrite Irenei (Steenberg) described the rubrics for the service. At Vladyka Kyrill’s suggestion, most of the clergy fasted from lunch that day to prepare for the service. All the clergy had Confession during the evening Vigil and exchanged forgiveness with each other.
Present (if I counted correctly) were the Archbishop, 23 priests and hieromonks, four protodeacons and deacons, a schema-monk, and two readers. Several of the clergy had been present during the original inspection, translation, and/or vesting of the relics prior to the glorification of the Saint in 1994.
Sternness and Sanctity
Lessons from the Life of St John Maximovitch
Perhaps Hollywood movies are partially to blame, but we often have a one-sided idea of what the saints were like in their earthly lives, and forget that they did not always enjoy the continued love and respect of everyone around them. We forget that spiritual love is quite different from earthly love, and what is beneficial to us is not always what is most pleasant and comfortable.
Although we can allow that there are times when a tender pat on the head is not what is needed, the modern educational theory is to coddle and be coddled. The rod has become a thing to be spared; and anyway, how can a person rebuke another for "doing wrong" when the very concept has become hopelessly outdated, stretched beyond all recognition, and highly subjective?
Sanctity is more than good deeds, or a good personality, or even good morals; it is the acquisition of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God. We may not always understand its workings, and its action upon us may not be "comfortable." We cannot truly venerate the saints if we do not accept this fact, because as our Lord said, Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword (10:34).
St. John (Maximovitch) of Shanghai is a saint whose extraordinary life touched people of our own time. There are still people living who knew him personally. Therefore, a very clear picture has emerged of this unearthly man that leaves no doubt—as the Holy Orthodox Church has confirmed by his canonization—that he was a wonder-wonder, a clairvoyant, a saint of God. His love of God and people was so strong that he literally gave himself no rest, for he was continually engaged in prayer and service without reserving anything for himself. All his words and deeds were full of God's truth. His selfless love kept his mind always attentive to peoples' suffering, and his boldness before God wrought countless miracles of healing and salvation.
We must note, however, that although St. John was not a narrow-minded fanatic, he was stern and unyielding on matters of the faith, as we can see from his own writings and homilies and from the accounts of people who knew him. The following are a few excerpts from these writings in which we can observe this stern side of his sanctity.
Read the full article, compiled by Nun Cornelia Rees, on Pravoslavie.ru.
Books and Icons
Writings by and about St John the Wonderworker,
as well as icons of this beloved saint, apostle on three continents, protector of orphans, healer of the sick, revered ascetic and persecuted hierarch, who significantly contributed to the spread of Orthodoxy in North America through his tireless archpastoral service, his building of the Russian Orthodox Cathedral in San Francisco, and his blessing of Orthodox publishers and monasteries.
Click on images to see individual products...
VIDEO ~ The Life of St John Maximovitch, DVD and Online
This excellent documentary is the first of its kind on St John Maximovitch.
Containing dozens of never before published photographs, and with interviews with many who knew St. John very well, this DVD is very inspiring and a fitting tribute of this wonderworker who is loved by Orthodox Christians all over the world. Even those thoroughly familiar with the life of St John will find this documentary contains much that they haven’t seen or heard before.
(Subsequent parts will appear as 'related videos' after the first part plays.)
Relics of St John Maximovitch Gifted to Christ the Savior-Holy Spirit
Originally posted June 2011
Dear Parish Faithful,
Dinara Archie returned from a trip to California with relics of St. John Maximovich, a genuine “latter day saint,” who fell asleep in the Lord in 1966 and who was recently glorified in 1994. His tomb and incorrupt body are in a large Russian Orthodox cathedral in San Francisco. We have commissioned an icon from our parish iconographer Fr. Andrew Tregubov, attached to which the relics will rest and be made available for veneration.
As early as this Sunday, however, we will present the relics for veneration following the Liturgy and a Memorial Service for the mothers of Karen Krueger and Alexis Callender. Everyone will also be anointed upon venerating the relics of St. John.