Saint Tikon (TIKHON) Page 2


Continued from: http://www.antiochian.org/Bishops/tikhon.htm

 

A group of priests declaring itself opposed to the Patriarch and in favor of the Soviets' social actions by a return to primitive Christianity, formed the "Living Church" on March 25, 1922; on April 29/May 12th, its Zhivaia tserkov' joined Izvestiia in attacking the Patriarch, and dispatched a five-man delegation (with two GPU guards) to demand his abdication, in view of his inability to govern the Church; he defiantly demanded instead that the Soviets allow the canons to be observed with his authority being transferred to Metr. Agafangel (Preobrazhenskii) of Yaroslavl' pending the convening of a council. On May 3/16th, the Locum tenens was summoned to Moscow to assume power, while the Patriarch retired to the Donskoi Monastery, having thwarted the rebel Bp. Antonin's ambitions for the short term. He was held in squalid, strictly-isolated quarters and constantly guarded, being allowed short periods of outdoor exercise three times a day, one appearance a day at his balcony to bless the masses, and Holy Communion only once a week. "Every device is put into practice in order to insult the Patriarch, both in public and in private, to humiliate him as a prelate and a man. ... Patriarch Tikhon, who is far from having completed his three-score years, and is by nature wise and calm, sometimes produces the impression of a living corpse." On May 20, 1923 (N.S.), Izvestiia announced a take-over of the Patriarchal Chancery and formation of a Provisional Supreme Ecclesiastical Administration headed by Bps. Antonin and Leonid; Agafangel, denied permission to leave Yaroslavl' when he refused to join the movement, led underground opposition to the Living Church until he was arrested and exiled to Siberia. After Izvestiia announced that the Patriarch would be tried during Bright Week, the London Times reported that Tikhon's execution was imminent. A renovationist "All-Russian Conference," convened Apr. 16/29, 1923, in Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral purged sixty opponents; a second conference opened with 476 politically-screened delegates from 72 of 74 dioceses was still divided over which program to follow. On April 20/May 3rd, 54 of the 66 bishops present "unanimously" condemned Tikhon for "bringing into jeopardy the very existence of the Church," nullified his anathema against the Soviets, deprived the "apostate" and "traitorous" Vasilii Belavin of both his rank and monastic calling, and abolished the "restored Patriarchate." He rejected the council's competency, signing the formal notification, but annotating it with one word: "Illegal."

Knowing nothing about the true state of affairs in the Church, since his only source of information in prison was the Soviet newspapers, Tikhon came to believe that continued heroism would be wrong, and on June 3/16, 1923, he officially repented of his "anti-Soviet acts" in order to save the Church, and pledged, in return for freedom, that "henceforth, I am not an enemy of the Soviet Power. I am finally and decisively setting myself apart from both the foreign and the internal monarchist White Guard counterrevolutionaries." Ten days later, after several postponements of his trial, "Citizen Belavin" was set free from Taganka Prison, barefoot and disheveled, wearing a soldier's coat, and allowed to return to the Donskoi Monastery, where he remained under de facto house arrest, allowed to see only those who dared pass a "ferocious and rude communist sentry" and sign an official registry stating the reason for his visit. (He would be declared no longer "socially dangerous" and have his legal case dismissed only in March of 1924.) His health worsened. An attempt was made to poison him. In June and July he published open letters to the Church in Pravda, declaring himself neither an "admirer of the Soviet power" nor its enemy. He condemned monarchists, White Guards, and the various renovationists (finding only the New Calendar and new orthography worthy of adoption); he declared the Church to be totally "apolitical," neither "white" nor "red," and warned the bishops in Karlovci to heed his 1922 ukase or face canonical trial in Moscow. Izvestiia (July 5, No. 146) declared this "a supremely timely and wise act" which could result in a change in relations between church and state. In an effort to tone down Western (primarily British) criticism, his new position was propagated in the West through a cautious interview with the Manchester Guardian. Regel'son

states that by the time Tikhon made some compromising statements about the Soviets in 1923, the people understood that he had already suffered greatly for the faith, and took his words in context; they were unwilling to be as understanding with Metr. Sergii, who cited Tikhon's position. The renovationist movement rapidly fell apart, and the Soviets pressured Tikhon (by threat of re-arrest for himself and continued arrest for his fellow hierarchs) to be reconciled with its former leaders; he did so with the greatest of reluctance, feeling himself to have been tricked concerning their actual strength and following; nevertheless, Abp. Feodor (Pozdeevskii) found the Patriarch too soft and unauthoritative, and led an aggressive right-wing opposition to Tikhon from the Danilov Monastery. On Jan. 2/15, 1924, Tikhon and his Synod declared the renovationist hierarchy uncanonical On Oct. 21, 1924, a first serious attempt was made on his life, during Liturgy; the hapless assassin mistook Metr. Peter for him, but the experience left him badly shaken, and the asthma from which he suffered notably increased. A second attempt on Nov. 26/Dec. 9, 1924, during a break-in of his apartment by two erstwhile "thieves," left his servant since his days in the United States, IAkov Sergeevich Ostroumov, dead of gunshot wounds, aggravated his nephritis to the point that he was advised by physicians to limit his work; rumors spread that he had suffered a stroke. Kneeling at Ostroumov's grave, two shots which nearly missed, left his constitution broken. In January 1925 (N.S.), the Bolsheviks stepped up measures aimed at preventing Tikhon's effective government of the Church, to the point that he felt himself only nominally free, and wonder whether prison would not be preferable. He found himself surrounded in an atmosphere of lies, provocations, and deceit, having to second-guess everyone he met. Hints that prisoners might be freed and conditions generally improved alternated with threats that even greater repression was possible. He was forced to do things calculated to be unpopular with the faithful (e.g. ordering prayers for the Soviet authorities, authorizing the New Calendar -- ostensibly because it had been adopted by all the Eastern Patriarchs ). He became visibly (and most uncharacteristically) agitated whenever the Chekist agent Tuchkov (the de facto Ober Procurator) assigned to deal with him approached. on Jan. 12th (N.S.), a doctor recommended complete bed rest in hospital, and the Patriarch realized that he was sufficiently ill to check into the still-privately run Bakunin Clinic; Dr. Bakunina refused him admission, fearing reprisals from the Bolsheviks. Next day, he was admitted as Citizen Belavin. For the duration of his three-month stay, while being treated for severe sclerosis, kidney disease, angina pectoris, and nerves, he enjoyed the comfort of a clean, bright private room with an armchair and desk, where he sat, when he felt up to it, enjoying the view of the Zachat'evskii Monastery. He read Turgenev, Goncharov, and Pobedonostsev's memoirs. He brought in his own icons and a lampada. He looked like a poor, sick old man, except when vested for services. There he celebrated his sixtieth birthday. When his condition began to improve with rest, Agent Tuchkov began "visiting" him again, and saw to it that a steady stream of relatives and friends came to his door -- and thereby tiring him again. He was not too happy to receive the "tall, well-fed," and somewhat insolent Metr. Peter when the latter began visiting near the end of his stay. When released, he returned to parish visitations, and in March/April consecrated two new bishops. At the beginning of Great Lent he had two decayed teeth extracted. Routine swelling of the gums spread to his tonsils. When he was to sick to celebrate Annunciation (March 25/April 7th), a specialist, Dr. Genkin, his surgeon, Dr. Vinogradov, and Dr. Bakunina were summoned to examine him, but found nothing seriously wrong. Metr. Peter, Locum tenens since Dec. 25, 1924 (O.S.), visited a last time after Liturgy, again pressing the Patriarch loudly and at length, to sign the anti-Karlovci Proclamation which he had composed at Tuchkov's instructions; again Tikhon resisted, but the Metropolitan stressed that this was the only possible and acceptable platform for church/state relations in Soviet Russia and threatened to resign unless he signed it. In the evening Tikhon gave in, and signed with a twitching hand. At 10 P.M., he asked to be washed; then, after resting a bit, he turned uncharacteristically serious and stern; "Now I will fall fast asleep and for long -- the night will be long, long, dark, dark...," he declared. He awoke at 11:45, and had to be dissuaded from having his jaw tied up to ease the discomfort. He slept a bit more, then asked to see a doctor. By the time Dr. Shchelkan and his colleagues arrived (none would accept responsibility for him alone), the Patriarch was pale and his pulse weak; unable to speak, he pointed at his chest, and tremble with the onset of angina. He was in such pain that he requested morphine as he usually did for these particular symptoms. At 11:45 P.M., he asked what time it was, and receiving an answer, crossed himself three times, proclaiming each time, "Glory to God!" and his heart stopped. Camphor and cocaine were administered, without success. An obviously overjoyed Tuchkov learned from a tapped phone of the death, and with a GPU agent, examined the body before Metr. Peter and Bp. Boris arrived, wrapped it in the Patriarchal mantle, and accompanied it in a GPU ambulance to Donskoi to prepare it for burial. He was vested by Bp. Boris in gold and dark-green velvet vestments and laid in an oak coffin. Led by sixty hierarchs, 160,000-170,000 people filed by his remains, four abreast at a rate of 100-120 per minute, each day for three days. He was laid to rest in the Donskoi Monastery on Palm Sunday, March 30/April 12, 1925. Rumors spread that the dentist who pulled the Patriarch's diseased teeth had secretly administered poison instead of cocaine. The newspapers printed badly muddled reports.