Tikhon, Patriarch

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(18651925), eleventh patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, 19171925.

The son of a provincial priest, Vasily Ivanovich Bellavin attended the Pskov seminary and the theological academy in St. Petersburg. He took monastic vows in 1891, adopting the name "Tikhon," and was elevated to the episcopacy in 1897. Over the next twenty years, he served dioceses in Russia and North America. He became the first popularly elected Metropolitan of Moscow in July 1917 and president of the national church council that convened in August. After the October Revolution, the council chose Tikhon as the first Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia since 1701. Patriarch Tikhon anathematized the Bolsheviks and their supporters in January 1918, but then backed away from direct confrontation in the face of government reprisals, adopting a strictly neutral political stance during the civil war. Nonetheless, the Bolsheviks saw Tikhon as a counterrevolutionary. They split the church in 1922 by supporting the Living Church Movement. Tikhon spent a year under arrest and interrogation. He was released in mid-1923 after signing a statement repenting his political crimes and condemning foreign church leaders. Tikhon's last years were spent under constant threat of arrest as he worked to reunite the Church. His death in April 1925 led to new schisms when the government prevented election of a new patriarch and promoted rivalries among Orthodox bishops. Despite official Soviet depictions of Tikhon as an archreactionary, Orthodox believers revered him due to his suffering at the hands of the Communists in defense of the faith. The Russian Orthodox Church canonized Patriarch Tikhon in 1989.

See also: living church movement


Evtuhov, Catherine. (1991). "The Church in the Russian Revolution: Arguments for and against Restoring the Patriarchate at the Church Council of 19171918." Slavic Review 50:497511.

Roslof, Edward E. (2000). "Russian Orthodoxy and the Tragic Fate of Patriarch Tikhon (Bellavin)." In The Human Tradition in Modern Russia, ed. William B. Husband. Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources.

Edward E. Roslof