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: 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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“Holiness is not simply righteousness, for which the righteous merit the enjoyment of blessedness in the Kingdom of God, but rather such a height of righteousness that men are filled with the grace of God to the extent that it flows from them upon those who associate with them. Great is their blessedness; it proceeds from personal experience of the Glory of God. Being filled also with love for men, which proceeds from love of God, they are responsive to men’s needs, and upon their supplication they appear also as intercessors and defenders for them before God.” — St. John Maximovitch
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What better description could be found to portray the essence of a man whose love for Christ drew him to such heights of spiritual perfection that he enkindled the faith of thousands from East to West? The life of St. John Maximovitch demonstrates more vividly than any words that true Christianity far exceeds the bounds of human “goodness”. Here is a shining reflection of the supernatural love of God which works miracles, a living proof that the burning faith of the early Christian saints still warms the earth at a time when the love of many has grown cold.
St. John did not isolate himself from the world, but he was not of this world. First and foremost he was a man of prayer. He completely surrendered himself to God, presenting himself as a “living sacrifice” and he became a true vessel of the Holy Spirit. His work as an apostle, missionary and miracle worker continues even now.
This saint of the latter times was born June 4, 1896 in the province of Kharkov. At baptism he was given the name Michael. As a child he was serious for his years and he later wrote: “From the first days when I began to become aware of myself, I wished to serve righteousness and truth. My parents kindled in me a striving to stand unwaveringly for the truth, and my soul was captivated by the example of those who had given their lives for it.”
A True Student of the Saints
Six Encounters with St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco
The Veneration of St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco: Recollections of a Spiritual Son
Scroll down for much more...
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
St John Maximovitch, Archbishop of Shanghai and San Francisco
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 son obeyed his father, and lived happily.
Watch, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. (I Cor. 16:13).
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.
And all of this can pass through the heart in a matter of minutes. For this reason one ascetic, who was extremely attentive to himself, was quite right in saying that
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.
Translated from Pravoslavnaya Rus and taken from
ORTHODOX AMERICA, Vol. XIV, No. 2-3, September-October, 1993
- Read the Sermon by then Hieromonk John Maximovitch, on his Election as Bishop of Shanghai in 1934.
- More sermons and articles by St John Maximovitch.
- 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)
Wonderworker of San Francisco and Shanghai,
pray unto God for us!
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.
Lessons from the Life of St John Maximovitch
It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Heb. 10:31).
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.
Writings by and about St John the Wonderworker,
Click on images to see individual products...
This excellent documentary is the first of its kind on St John Maximovitch.
Order from Hermitage of the Holy Cross, Wayne WV.
NTSC, Color, 57 min. - New Packaging, lower price.
Watch online below via YouTube, in six parts.
(Subsequent parts will appear as 'related videos' after the first part plays.)
Dear Parish Faithful,