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Saint Photius, Metropolitan of Kiev and All Russia, was a Greek from the Peloponnesian city of Monembasia (Malbasia). At a young age, he entered a monastery and was tonsured under the Elder Acacius, a great ascetic who later became the Metropolitan of Monembasia.
After the death of St Cyprian in 1407, the Russian See (Lithuania and Russia) was vacant. Patr. Matthew of Constantinople appointed Photius with the title of Metropolitan of Kiev and Vladimir. In September of 1408 St Photius was made metropolitan, and the next he year arrived in Rus. He spent half a year in Kiev, where he concerned himself with settling affairs in the southern dioceses of the Russian Church, then included within the principality of Lithuania and Russia.
The saint perceived that the throne of the metropolitan, the spiritual center of churchly life in Rus, could not remain in the Kiev lands, where everything increasingly fell under the dependence of Catholic Poland. So in 1408, he transferred to Moscow and became Metropolitan of Moscow and all Russia. In Moscow, however, Photius had to deal with much adversity, such as drought, starvation, pestilence and fires, which had fallen upon Russia. Photius found his metropolitan residence ravaged and ecclesiastic treasury empty. Everything seemed to be in chaos, and he didn't know a single word of Russian. But he knew how to highly advance the spiritual significance, the material prosperity and well-being of the churches under the See of Moscow.
Favorable conditions in the Church allowed St Photius to provide assistance to the increasingly impoverished Patriarch of Constantinople and to strengthen the international position of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian realm.
Photius is remembered as a clergyman who helped the poor and took good care of his Russian flock like none of the foreign bishops. He built a church and the so-called house of silence and prayer on the Sengo Lake not far from Vladimir, where he used to retreat for meditation. In 1430, when Photius was in Vladimir, the Mongols raided the city, but he managed to escape to the lake. He stayed there for three months until the Grand Prince of Moscow sent for him.
Through the efforts of Metr. Photius, the canonical unity of the Russian Church was restored. The separate Lithuanian metropolitanate, established by Prince Vitovt for the southern and western eparchies (dioceses), was abolished in 1420.
The wise and erudite pastor left behind many instructions and letters. Of great theological significance was his denunciation of the heresy of the Strigolniki, which had arisen at Pskov prior to his time. By his wise efforts the heresy was put to an end in 1427.
Important Church historical sources compiled by St Photius are his "Order of Selection and Installation of Bishops" (1423), " Discourse on the Seriousness of the Priestly Office and the Obligations of Church Servers," and also the "Spiritual Testament", in which he tells of his life. Another great work of the saint was the compilation, under his guidance, of the Obscherussk (All-Russian) Chronicle (about 1423).
After his return to Moscow an angel appeared before Photius and told him about his forthcoming death. He reposed peacefully on the Feast of the Placing of the Robe of the Most Holy Theotokos at Blachernae, on July 2, 1431.
|Metropolitan of Moscow and all Russia|
Isidore the Apostate