Icon Akimov 102.075 «St. John of Kronstadt»
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"In Russia hard times the Lord endowed it with a great man of prayer – St. John of Kronstadt (Ivan Ilyich Sergiev October 31 (19) 1829 г. — January 2, 1909 (December 20, 1908). Being a parish priest and living in the world he rose to such a spiritual height that had been achieved by the others only through long years of monastic asceticism. St. John of Kronstadt wasfor called “the all-Russian father (batiushka)”.
The great shepherd was born in a village of Sura in Arkhangelsk province where by his own words “generations of the Sergievs were priests continually at different times”. From a boy the saint loved church services, and woke up for praying even at nights. Literacy troubled him considerably like St. Sergius of Radonezh; and quite like St. Sergius he acquired the ability for learning by pleading prayers. Thus he became not only an advanced pupil but also an outstanding theologian and preacher afterwards.
In 1855 St. John graduated magna cum laude from the Saint-Petersburg ecclesiastical academy, and was ordained the priest of the St. Andrew's Cathedral in Kronstadt where he started his ministry from visiting the poorest districts. Kronstadt was a place whereto the minor criminals and vicious persons were exiled. Besides, there were multiple of unskilled laborers who worked mainly in the seaport. All of them lived in wretched hovels and dugouts; panhandled and drank heavily. He came there every day, conversed with and consoled them, nursed the sick ones, and supported with money, handing round everything he had, and quite often returned home undressed and even barefoot. ""A human being should be loved in his any state, both in his sin, and in his shame, – Father John said. – A man who is God’s image should not be confused with evil that is in him…"" Having no repugnance of abject poverty and vice father John helped the families of degraded drunkards, bought food and medicines; and as a result he returned the lost human make-up to many of Kronstadt ""tramps"", ""riff-raffs"" through the power of his compassionate pastoral love, despite of being met maliciously at first.
Due to Father John’s zeal the House of Love of Labor was opened as well as two special schools, a clinic, asylum for tramps, a canteen, and several workshops. Students of Kronstadt non-classical and classical secondary schools where he taught for more than 25 years remembered his Scripture lessons for good. Clinics and asylums for beggary started being built throughout Russia with the assistance of Father John in the likeness of the Kronstadt House of Love of Labor.
But his basic care was of human souls. In 1882 an Almshouse was founded whereto thousands of people gathered needy of his prayerful help. Sometimes he confessed for 12 hours, and administered communion during 3-4 hours running. During the service letters and telegrams were brought, and he read them immediately and prayed for those who sought help. Father John had experienced the gracious life-giving power of Eucharist in the very beginning of his office of priest. He daily himself officiated the Divine Liturgy and administrated of the Holy Communion.
Due to his righteous life and spiritual deeds Father John of Kronstadt gained the grace of wonder working. He helped everyone who sought help, including adherents of different faith. Grateful people brought money to Father John but he handed it round to the needy. However he did not always take benefactions. A case is known when he rejected 30000 roubles of a wealthy. The lady repented later on having told that the money were unscrupulous.
Demise of St. John of Kronstadt became a nationwide grief indeed. Hundreds of thousands gathered to the funeral of the righteous man. His sepulchre in the undercroft of the Cloister of St. John (founded by the Father John) became a pilgrimage shrine center. Numerous wonders were made there. The saint was kept on worshipping even in the years of persecution of Church, though his tomb was concreted, the entrance being bricked up. In 1990 St. John of Kronstadt was canonized by the Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church; and his commemoration day was instituted on December 20 (January 2) – on the day of his blessed decease.
“It is a joy for everyone to see your face, and to hear your spiritual instruction fo salvation, o Holy shepherd of us” – these words from a service to him written on the small icon reverse express love and reverence for the “all-Russian father” that St. John of Kronstadt has gained in his lifetime."
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