Can the Church "make" a saint? The answer is no. Only God can do that.
We glorify those whom God Himself has glorified, seeing in their lives true love
for God and their neighbors. The Church merely recognizes that such a person
has cooperated with God’s grace to the extent that his or her holiness is beyond doubt. -Fr. Joseph Frawley [source]
Saints are an important part of Russian Orthodox culture! As a follow up to my last post on the Romanov family -- yes, Tsar Nicholas II and his family are canonized as saints in the Orthodox Church.
Orthodox theologians classify the saints in six categories [source]:
- The Apostles, who were the first ones to spread the message of the Incarnation of the Word of God and of salvation through Christ.
- The Prophets, because they predicted and prophesied the coming of the Messiah.
- The Martyrs, for sacrificing their lives and fearlessly confessing Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the Savior of mankind.
- The Fathers and Hierarchs of the Church, who excelled in explaining and in defending, by word and deed, the Christian faith.
- The Monastics, who lived in the desert and dedicated themselves to spiritual exercise, reaching, as far as possible, perfection in Christ.
- The Just, those who lived in the world, leading exemplary lives as clergy or laity with their families, becoming examples for imitation in society.
|Tsar Nicholas, Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, Alexi. [source]|
On August 14, 2000, after some 8 years of study, the council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church (inside Russia) voted unanimously to recognize Nicholas, Alexandra and their five children as saints. They were not named as martyrs, since their deaths did not result immediately from their Christian faith; instead, they were canonized as "passion bearers" (see the last category above).
|The holy Passion Bearers. |
Icon painted by the sisters of the New Tikhvin Monastery. [source]
In the last Orthodox Russian monarch and members of his family we see people who sincerely strove to incarnate in their lives the commands of the Gospel. In the suffering borne by the Royal Family in prison with humility, patience, and meekness, and in their martyrs deaths in Yekaterinburg in the night of 17 July 1918 was revealed the light of the faith of Christ that conquers evil. [source]
A treasury of saints for the young. Presented in a warm, informal style, suitable for reading aloud, here are stories of the struggles and triumphs of holy Fathers and Mothers from throughout the world. 15 exquisite watercolors by a Russian iconographer bring these beloved saints to life. Each saint story is 3-6 pages in length, taking 5-15 minutes to read aloud. Ages 5 and up. (You can also hear an audio review here, from AFR).
There are several Russian saints in this book, including beloved St. Herman, a Russian monk and missionary who brought Orthodox Christianity to Alaska and the Aleuts!
|St. Herman of Alaska, from|
A Child's Paradise of Saints
Another Russian saint in the book is St. Xenia of St. Petersburg. Basically, the story of Xenia is that as a young woman she married an officer, who died suddenly while at a party. Xenia mourned not only his sudden unexpected death, but the fact that her husband had not been able to go to Confession or receive Holy Communion before he died. She was dreadfully worried about his soul.
Young Xenia disappeared from society for a long time. When she returned, she had given away everything she owned (including her house) and was wearing her husband's old army uniform. She also told everyone to call her by his name, "Andrei".
She went all over the city doing good deeds (many in secret) for others in her husband's name - hoping that her deeds and prayers would honor him in the eyes of God.
|St. Xenia, from A Child's Paradise of Saints|
Many people thought she was a bit crazy! Xenia had become very holy and had many spiritual gifts, which were mostly unnoticed because people were so distracted by her strange dress and the fact that she had given away all her money and belongings, basically living a life of homelessness.
There is one story that St. Xenia would spend even the coldest winter nights in the Smolensky Cemetery. There was a church being built there, and she would secretly carry heavy bricks in the middle of the night, to stack them where they were needed the next day.
The workers wondered how the bricks got there, so one night they secretly kept watch. Xenia finally appeared, climbing up and down the walls of the half-finished church with her loads of bricks!
My husband and I visited Smolensky Cemetery during our visit to St. Petersburg, and we saw the church that St. Xenia helped build...
|I took this photo in the Smolensky Cemetery as I looked toward the church that |
- according to tradition - St. Xenia helped build.
|St. Xenia's chapel|
The church is restored beautifully inside and out - and many Orthodox Christians make pilgrimage there, to pray, light a candle, and ask St. Xenia for her intercessions. We were blessed to be among them.
Remember, today - May 30 - is your final chance to enter my MAY GIVEAWAYS. The Giveaways end at midnight tonight.
How to enter: Comments left HERE on this post (or on any of my "Russia blogs" posted between May 12 and May 30, 2013) will enter you for a chance to win one of the giveaways! Enter as many times as you like.
Winners announced: I'll pick three people who will each win one of my three "Matryoshka Madness"giveaways (three because I'm celebrating three years of blogging!) I'll announce the winners tomorrow, May 31, 2013.