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19222The Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in China in the 1920s-1930s

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  • stmitrophan
    Feb 8, 2014
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      Originally published in Russian by "Orthodoxy in China" by Priest Dionisy Pozdnyaev (1998)

      English translation by Fr John Bartholomew

      Chapter 2

      The Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in China in the 1920s-1930s

      After the defeat of Kolchak's army in the Far East and of Ataman Dutov in Turkestan in 1919-1920 a flood of Russians poured into China, fleeing through the Far East and Central Asia (some sources give the figure at more than 500 thousand)[22]. The Embassy and Consulates of the Russian Empire were closed.

      Sheltering the refugees from Russia, China also became a place of rest for the victims of the Russian Revolution, namely those members of the house of Romanov and their retinue who died in Alapayevsk on April 18, 1918. On April 16, 1920 at 2:00 am eight coffins with the remains of Grand Duchess Elizabeth Fedorovna, Grand Duke Sergei Mikhailovich, Nun Barbara (Yakovlia) of the Martha-Mary Convent in Moscow, Princes John, Constantine and Isor Konstantinovich, Count Vladimir Pavlovich Paley and Baron Theodore Remeza arrived in Beijing from Harbin. At 8:00 am the carriage with the coffins was redirected to the Andingmen gate of Beijing. Bishop Innokenty and a procession from the Mission were waiting for them. None of the diplomats appeared. The remains of the Alapayevsk martyrs were buried in the Russian cemetery in the crypt of the church of the Venerable Seraphim of Sarov. The relics of the Nun-Martyrs Elizabeth and Barbara were soon transferred to Jerusalem. Beyond the bounds of the Beijing mission few remembered the Princely Martyrs, According to I.I. Serabrennikov from 1920 to 1930 only one Russian delegation visited the crypt of the Alapayevsk martyrs and laid a wreath on their coffins and this was a delegation from the Russian unit of the army of the Shandong general Zhang Zongchang.[23]

      In 1928, when it was discovered that the sheet metal covers of the coffins were crumbling, with the blessing of Bishop Innokenty it was decided to reinter their remains. Peter Sudakov, the former physician of the Imperial Diplomatic Mission in Beijing who was asked to assist in the reinterment of the remains, remembered in a private letter: "Eight years had passed since the day of their deaths and I did not know in what condition I would find the bodies. I turned for help to my friend, a professor of pathology at Beijing Union Medical College, Rockefeller Foundation who willingly agreed to come with me to the cemetery. When we arrived there, we found a delegation of officers and clergy. Three coffins were carried from the cellar to the church. One of the coffins was larger than the others. When we removed the metal cover, there was a wooden coffin of massive boards. We opened a board. Before me lay the body of a Hercules, covered with a silk drapery. We opened the shroud. The face was gray and covered with a beard. There was no sign of corruption which surprised me. On a closer examination, I saw that the body had been opened and embalmed, which explained the preservation of the body. The face was so well preserved that it was easy to recognize Grand Duke Sergei Mikhailovich. I touched the skull and felt a crack. The body was transferred to a coffin which had been prepared and wrapped in a shroud. Then we transferred the bodies of the brothers. Their bodies were in good condition, and they also had been embalmed. On one of them the skull was split and on the other the ribs were broken on one side. The body of Paley was committed to the earth on the instructions of his mother."[24]

      Links with the ecclesiastical center — the Moscow Patriarchate were broken. The Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in China, like other overseas institutions of the Russian Orthodox Church, based on a decree of Patriarch Tikhon and the Temporary Church Administration of November 7 (20) 1920 were transferred to the temporary authority of the Synod Abroad. In accordance with a decree of the Synod Abroad, a diocese — of Beijing and China, was formed in 1920. It was headed by the head of the 18th Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in China, Vladika Innokenty (Figurovski) (he had been raised to the Archiepiscopate by a decree of Patriarch Tikhon of May 13, 1921 and later became a Metropolitan). In this way, while retaining its old name, the Mission became the first Orthodox diocese on Chinese territory and its administrative center. Within the limits and in the same year of the Beijing diocese vicariates were formed in Shanghai headed by Bishop Simon (Vinogradov) and in Tianjin (later transferred to Hankou) headed by Bishop Jonah (Pokrovsky).

      In Manchuria a Harbin Diocese directly subject to the Synod Abroad was formed, governed by Metropolitan Methodius of Harbin. Within its territory were Archbishop Meletius, Archbishop Nestor and Bishop Dimitry who had fled from Russia.

      Care for the refugees from Russia became the main task of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in China, substantially changing the priorities of the Mission's activity. In 1919 all Orthodox mission stations in China were closed.

      In order to somehow improve the material position of Russian refugees in China, Archbishop Innokenty gave them the greater part of the Mission's property for their long-term use. In the beginning of 1920 a number of Russian immigrants proposed through the renting of the Mission's property to help not only themselves but also to materially help the well-being of the Mission.

      Among them first of all one must mention artillery general V.D. Karamyshev, who often appeared at receptions of the Head of the Mission. The emigrants founded two joint stock companies: "Eastern Enlightenment" and "Eastern Economy". The first received for its use the dairy farm and part of the farmland, the second the typography and all subsidiary property. The administration of these two businesses at first had an indefinite character. Together with this the Mission began to resemble a lively beehive — new trees were planted, the old garden was put in order, many Chinese workers prepared plots of land for growing vegetables.

      At the end of 1921 the businesses began to lose money. The market gardens and silk production proved not to be competitive in China and the maintenance of the numerous workers swallowed all the profits. The liquidation of the unprofitable businesses cost the Mission 30,000 American dollars.

      Unfortunately, the Russian emigration, divided by internal feuds, repayed the Mission's help with hostility rather than gratitude. The monastery property in Beijing was seized and plundered by the above-mentioned "friendly" businesses. Archbishop Innokenty had to bring many lawsuits relating to the Mission's property. Later the head of the 20th Mission, Archbishop Victor (Sviatin) wrote: "… the emigration did not justify the trust of the head of the Mission,. The emigration in the persons of General Karamyshev, Minister Vologodskii, Count Yakov Zverev and Mr. George carelessly used the property and enterprises of the Mission which had been given them to use, and brought the Mission to impoverishment. The position of the Mission was further complicated by the fact that having lost the defense and help of the state it was often subjected to the pretensions of wicked people and organizations who took every measure to seize the property of the Mission."[25]

      Thus when the Sino-Soviet treaty of May 31, 1924 was signed, the Mission was threatened with losing its property, as it was allegedly the property of the Soviet state. The Soviet embassy in Beijing undertook measures to discredit the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in the eyes of the Chinese authorities as a shelter for refugees from Russia. Articles appeared in newspapers which said that behind the walls of the Mission many armed officers — followers of Baron Ungern von Sternberg, who had seized Urga, were hiding. They wrote that many officers hiding their true intentions under monastic tonsures were a genuine threat to the safety of the Chinese capital. However, these articles did not resonate with the public.

      The head of the Mission succeeded in proving to the Chinese authorities that the legal owner of the Mission was the Church in the person of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in China. Also, the fact that Archbishop Innokenty, foreseeing the attempts of the Soviet authorities to seize the property of the Mission, had reregistered most of the property under his own name.

      In March 1928 Metropolitan Sergius (Stragorodsky) of Moscow addressed a letter to Archbishop Innokenty. Its contents came down to the fact that Metropolitan Sergius, as the Locum Tenens of the Patriarchal Throne and head of the Synod, asked Archbishop Innokenty to report on the conditions of the Orthodox Church in China. Archbishop Innokenty was deeply troubled by this letter. Believing that the Soviet government was trying to use the authority of Metropolitan Sergius against the Russian emigration, including that in China, he thought that the Locum Tenens, with his declaration of 1927 was calling all emigrants to be loyal to the Soviet authority. Archbishop Innokenty, knowing that the Moscow church authorities were trying to destroy the Church Abroad and seize its property in the interest of the Soviet authorities did not reply to the letter of Metropolitan Sergius.

      In June 1928 the bishops in Harbin received a decree of the Temporary Moscow Holy Synod of June 20, 1928 addressed to the Karlovatsky Holy Synod and Metropolitan Evlogy (Georgievsky). The essence of the decree came down to a demand that they declare their position in regard to the Moscow church authorities: the question was the recognition by the diaspora hierarch of the authority of Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky) or Metropolitan Sergius (Stragorodsky). The decree stated that every cleric who recognized the Moscow Synod, but who did not accept Soviet citizenship would be dismissed from his church duties. Not one of the hierarchs in China thought it was possible to accept this decree for himself, (However for a short time Bishop Nestor (Anisimov) hesitated and even declared his recognition of Metropolitan Sergius, but later changed this decision).

      The main task of the Mission, and indeed of all of the bishops in China, became to help to the needy Russian emigrants. After the approval of the charger of the Orthodox Brotherhood in Tianjin by the head of the Mission, Archbishop Innokenty, the Brotherhood began its activity under the leadership of Archpriest P. Razumov and then Hieromonk Victor (Sviatin). The activity of the Brotherhood began to develop widely.

      In Shanghai on February 22, 1923, at the initiative of the well-known Russian immigrant Doctor D. I. Kozakov, a Russian Orthodox Brotherhood was opened. Besides charitable work, the primary goal of the Brotherhood was the strengthening of morality among the emigrants, the preservation of Russian culture and the preaching of Orthodoxy. The Brotherhood organized many gatherings and lectures. The Orthodox Brotherhood founded a Russian school in Shanghai and a hospital for the poor. The Brotherhood also had a commercial school and a shelter for aged women and women alone.

      The self-sacrificing help to the refugees from Russia worsened the already difficult material condition of the Mission. Deprived of financial help from Russia, from the income for the representation churches in Moscow and Petrograd, burdened with debt, the Mission was in a state of almost total collapse. The pitiable condition of the Mission was worsened by plots of Archbishop Innokenty's enemies (and there were more than a few). Many disliked his intolerance of democracy of every kind. On the anniversary of the Revolution in Russia, Archbishop Innokenty wrote "They try to suggest to us that the church should not interfere in politics. This is the baldest lie. The church should not get involved in political squabbles, should be above all political parties: They overturn thrones, shake the foundations of the state. In their hands governments are marionettes… And what kind of loyalty can one speak of when for obedience to today's authorities one can be shot by the new authority tomorrow?… If we are Christians, then in reply to the violence of the Bolsheviks toward the Church we must cut off any contact with them… God's anger towards us will not be turned away from us until we repent."[26] The angry tone of the Archbishop's sermons, unmasking the sins and vices of the unchurched part of the Russian emigration irritated his enemies.

      The religious life of Harbin, settled by the artisans and workers of the main workshop and depots of the Chinese Eastern Railway was in decline. Sects flourished. This situation was confirmed by the separating of the parishes in Manchuria from the Mission in 1902. They were put under the authority of the Vladivostok diocese. It is sufficient to say that in 1922 of 250 homes in the Zaton area of Harbin only 6 families received the priest who was going around the area with a procession at Christmas. It got to the point that seeing the coldness of Russians to church life in 1928 the Pope sent a Uniate bishop for "preaching" among the Russians. Afterwards the situation changed when many Russian clerics — monastics, deacons, priests and bishops — found refuge in Harbin. Criticizing the attraction some of the emigrants had for Theosophy, the head of the 18th Mission wrote: "Many Orthodox are allured by Theosophy. Some from ignorance, others for the attaining of wicked goals which they carefully hide from the uninitiated. The founder of Theosophy wrote 'Our goal is to wipe Christianity from the face of the earth…' Theosophists do not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as God… the Holy Church anathematizes such people and sweeps them away."[27]

      The forced weakening of missionary activity among the local population was used by the adversaries of Archbishop Innokenty as an excuse for reforming governance of the Church in China and the cause of dissatisfaction among the Chinese, priests and laypeople.

      But the head of the mission was not in favor of any democratic reforms in church governance. His actions were far from being in agreement with the Synod of Bishops. In fact, the Beijing diocese was self-governing. All of this was a cause of discord which, however, due to the good "administrative" qualities of the Head of the Mission, arose in only one incident.

      There was no unanimity of mind and among the clergy of the Mission and the Harbin diocese. On December 7, 1928 Archpriest Alexander Piniaev, a retired priest of the Beijing diocese, wrote to Paris to one of the 'most prominent of the hierarchs of the Russian diaspora' Metropolitan Evlogy (Georgevsky): "…Archbishop Innokenty's never-ending lawsuits with many Russian residents of Beijing, Shanghai and other Chinese cities especially in the last eight years have led the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Beijing to total ruin and poverty. The Beijing Mission is a fiction. There are no educational or charitable activities and the buildings are almost completely ruined, and everything has a sorrowful appearance." At the end of the letter Fr. Alexander Pinaev asks Metropolitan Evlogy's blessing to form a parish which will be under the direct authority of the latter. Metropolitan Evlogy advised him in this case to Moscow to address Metropolitan Sergius (Stragorodsky). The former had already begun a correspondence with the Locum Tenens.

      In 1927, as a result of the civil war in China, Bishop Simon (Vinogradov) of Shanghai sealed the domestic military parish church in honor of St. Nicholas in the Shanghai area of Zhabei. Later he demanded that the building where the domestic chapel was to be given [to him] for the episcopal residence, but the parish community did not give its agreement to the bishop. Despite the fact that the church had been sealed by the ruling bishop, the parishioners removed the seal and services were held illicitly over the course of two years. The Synod Abroad called on the community to submit to the demands and decrees of the ecclesiastical authority, but the parishioners continued to be obstinate.

      In the minutes of the November 5, 1928 meeting of the Russian Parish Community in Shanghai with the signature of General Glebov it was stated "… We, the faithful painfully suffering from all the disorder in the church deprived of any possibility of satisfying our need of church life and common prayer, resolve: 1. To form a Russian parish community in Shanghai, not subject to either judicially or spiritually to the Russian ecclesiastical mission in China, in the person of its head Archbishop Innokenty or his deputy Bishop Simon (Vicar of Shanghai-author) but subject completely to the Locum Tenens of the Patriarchal Throne Metropolitan Peter of Krutitsk… 2. To invite canonical Orthodox priests who sympathize with us to begin church services immediately…"[28] In fulfillment of point two, the parish council turned to retired archpriest of the Beijing Diocese, Father Alexander Piniaev. The latter had written twice, January 26 and March 12, 1921 to Moscow, to the Locum Tenens Metropolitan Sergius with a request to be received in his jurisdiction, but did not receive a reply and on March 18, 1929 again to Metropolitan Evlogy with a request, not from him personally but from the Shanghai parish. Metropolitan Evlogy, as a result of correspondence with Metropolitan Sergius on this issue, accepted the Shanghai parish into his jurisdiction, and thus a classic church schism, the formation of a parish without the knowledge of the ruling bishop within his diocese, was formed in Shanghai.

      Of course, church life did not consist of anything but discord. In 1921 in Tianjin, then Hieromonk Viktor (Sviatin) founded the Brotherhood of the Orthodox Church and with it a hospital, a school and a library. In 1928, thanks to a donation of a well-to-do local philanthropist, a stone church was built on to the small chapel, and was consecrated by Archbishop Innokenty. It was dedicated in honor of the feast of the Most Holy Protection of the Mother of God.

      The iconostas for the old church had been given by Tsar Nicholas II. In 1928 a House of Charity of the Venerable Seraphim of Sarov was opened thanks to the efforts of F. Rublev and B.V. Brobrishchev-Pushkin. In 1931 a prayer house was built on to it. Russian Tianjin was known for its charitable activities.

      Within the Harbin diocese, the basic area where the emigrants settled, churches were opened, educational institutions (including seminaries) were opened, Orthodox books were published and charitable activities were developed.

      The activity of the bishops in Manchuria showed itself in ceaseless acts of charity and care for those who were suffering. Thus, on the initiative of Bishop Dimitry of Hailar, "Seraphim's Orphanage" was established for orphans to give them food and a roof over their heads and in addition, "Seraphim's Table" was also founded to help the poor by giving them a meal for a nominal price, and for the destitute, the meal was provided free.

      On the land of the holy Transfiguration Church in the Corps section of Harbin, Archpriest M. Filologov founded the "Metropolitan Methodius Home of Refuge" for widows, orphans and the aged of the clerical caste. Funds were raised through concerts, lotteries and collections of donations. The task of raising funds fell on the Ladies Committee of the House of Refuge.

      In 1929 Soviet forces in the Far East intruded on Chinese territory in Trekhreche chasing Russian refugees from Siberia and members of the White forces. Metropolitan Anthony responded to the cruelty of the Bolsheviks in the Trekhreche region with a call to all the peoples of the world. "Heart rending reports are coming in from the Far East. Red detachments intruded into China's territory and with all their cruelty fell upon the refugees/emigrants from Russia who had found in hospitable China a refuge from the red beast. Whole villages of Russians were destroyed, the male population was decimated, women and children were raped and killed. No mercy was shown to age, sex., the weak, the ill. The entire Russian population, unarmed, was killed, shot with terrifying cruelty and senseless torture."[29] Waves of Russian refugees poured into Harbin where they found shelter, food and attentive treatment in the "House of Refuge", and only in 1930 did they begin to return to the Trekhreche region. The Vladimir Theotokos convent took part in their fate. A refuge for girls was founded there in the Chinese region of Trekhreche named for St. Olga, Equal to the Apostles.

      Around 1925 on a fairly large piece of land the Joy of All Who Sorrow Church of the Kamchatka representation church, better known as the "House of Mercy." The founder of the church was Archbishop Nestor of Kamchatka. The House of Mercy had a shelter for female orphans and aged widows and icon painting workshop. At the entrance a chapel was erected in memory of the late Emperor Nicholas and Serbian King Alexander.

      The second vicar bishop of the Beijing diocese was Jonah (Pokrovsky) who from October 19, 1922 lived at the station of Manzhouli. His asceticism was apostolic service. Bishop Meletius wrote of him "The population of Manzhouli who came from various places in Russia had not been properly educated, religiously speaking. The new magnificent church at the mission was visited only by a small number of worshippers and preaching was very weak."[30] The newly arrived Bishop Jonah, with his education, spiritual frame of mind, charitable and public activity earned the general love of his flock and united all together. Saint Jonah, taking part directly in the life and education of children founded an orphanage at Manzhouli station. There lower and higher elementary schools were organized with free tuition, free dining halls, a dispensary and a library for the spiritual enlightenment of the local population.

      Bishop Jonah also published leaflets of a spiritual/moral character and gave a course of lectures in the Harbin theological course.

      ROCOR glorified Bishop Jonah and added him to the choir of the saints in 1996. In the act of canonization of St. Jonah of Hankou it was stated "The entire three year ministry of Bishop Jonah was so filled with the fulfillment of Christ's main commandment of mercy that for someone else, even a good pastor, to do something similar would take decades. The scope and power of this ministry was remembered in Manchuria by Orthodox and pagans alike. To sum up, Saint Jonah's ministry, Bishop Meletius, then Bishop of Zaibakalya, wrote that he fulfilled the main commandment of Christ: he fed the hunger, gave drink to the thirsty, took in the wayfarers, clothed the power and visited the sick… The fulfillment of this commandment, prepared for by lifelong asceticism, was the content of the entire life of Bishop Jonah. — it was that good deed which the bishop was commanded to desire. Now more than 60 years later, the consciousness of the Church considers St. Jonah a God-pleaser, having attained the grace to pray for those who call upon his name."[31]

      On September 13, 1996 the Synod Abroad designated the God-pleaser, Bishop Jonah, as one of those saints who shone forth in the Russian land.

      The scope of Church publishing was also quite broad. The monastic typography of the Kazan-Theotokos monastery in Novi-Modyago (Harbin) published the religious journal "The Bread of Heaven" and its supplements "Children's Readings", the collection "The Christmas Peel", the collections "Hope", "The Lives of the Saints", "The Christian Life According to the Philokalia" and "Ecclesiastical Encyclopedia Dictionary", "The Path of the Orthodox Christian into the Kingdom of heaven" and "A Short Sketch of the Birth, Organization and Life of the Monastery."

      In 1930 construction of the magnificent St. Sophia Church — the ornament of Harbin — began. In general, from 1918 to 1931 the following churches were built in Harbin: the St. Nicholas Church (at the municipal prison), the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul Church (built in the Sungari neighborhood), the Holy Transfiguration Church in the Corps neighborhood, the Kamchatka representation church and the Convent of our Lady of Vladimir, founded in 1924 by Igumeness Rufina. At the convent there is an underground church dedicated to St. Dimitry of Thessalonica. There was the Church of our Lady of Kazan at the men's monastery in Gondatevk, the Sts. Boris and Gleb church in Zhengyanghe, the St. Nicholas Church in Chasti Zaton (Jiangbei), the St. John the Theologian church at the orphanage-school, the Russian Home, the St. John the Forerunner church in the Moscow barracks, the Prophet Elijah church in Pristan and the Holy Virgin Protection Church at the old cemetery. Churches were built along the railroad line — the Holy Trinity Church in Shitouhezi, the St. Nicholas Church at Aihe station (Mudanjiang), the St. George Church at Hailin station, the St. Vladimir Church at Yaomin station and the Holy Transfiguration Church in Laoshago station. In 1922 with the blessing of Archbishop Methodius of Harbin, Archimandrite Juvenaly (later Bishop of Xinjiang and later Qiqihar) founded a men's monastery on Cross Island in Harbin but in the same year he went to Serbia. During his absence, the monastery was moved to Novi Modiago. Returning to Harbin in 1924, Archimandrite Juvenaly was appointed builder of Our Lady of Kazan monastery. Through is efforts a church with thee altars dedicated to the Icon of our Lady of Kazan, the Holy Martyr Panteleimon and Archangel Michael was built. The monastery was famous for its ascetics. The best known of them were Schema-monk Michael and Hieromonk Ignatius, who had received the gifts of clairvoyance and unceasing prayer by God. Attached to this monastery a hospital in the name of Kazem-Bek was founded.

      The main singularity of this period was the isolation of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission and the Harbin diocese from Russia. This became the cause of their transfer to the jurisdiction of the Synod Abroad. Strictly speaking missionary activity which had developed prior to 1918 became almost impossible in Beijing. The Mission ran into insolvable financial difficulties and in Harbin and in the whole Northeast, and even in Xinjiang the parishioners were in the main Russian emigrants. Often they never even thought of their duty of apostolic service which if it had been fulfilled would have been the foundation stone on which Orthodoxy in China would have been consolidated. Fundamentally the emigration lived with nostalgic memories of Russia and did not try to find a path in the spiritual sense, to the hearts of the Chinese who had so hospitably given them shelter. In this dimension the Russian emigration was worthless — half a million people whom the Lord led from Russia to China for three decades, was not able to broadly introduce China to Orthodoxy. Often the priests were not interested the Chinese people, considering their flock to be Russian emigrants. Perhaps, charity played a missionary role — no one was turned away without help, regardless whether the person suffering was Orthodox or not. In this was the fulfillment of Christ's command of mercy. Faith in the fact that in the face of every suffering person before us is the Savior Himself was manifested in charitable activity. The building of churches and the reverence for cemeteries bore witness to the piety of the Orthodox called forth in admiration of the Chinese.

      The task of preserving Orthodoxy among the Russian emigrants in China was fulfilled: perhaps in no other country in the world were the traditions, culture, way of life and faith of pre-revolutionary Russia preserved in such fullness as in China. So in Harbin, Qingdao, Sanhe and other cities of China Pascha, Christmas and other church feasts were not only the feasts of the Orthodox emigrants, but were feasts for all of the local inhabitants.

      In 1928 Archbishop Innokenty was elevated to Metropolitan. He had come to the limit of his earthly life zealous for God's truth and fighting against the vices among the Russian emigrants. He summoned all to unite under the shelter of the Church and thundered against the unbelief, lawlessness and wantonness of part of the Russian emigration. Metropolitan Innokenty was a strong defender of the unity of the church and the immutability of its canons.

      Metropolitan Innokenty knew not only that he was approaching the end of his life, he also knew the day of his death. The night before his death the Metropolitan had a dream in which he saw many clergy, clothed in vestments and carrying icons coming into his room towards him. The Metropolitan asked: "Why have you come to me with icons?" Someone answered "To bury you." Bishop Simon, the future Head of the Mission, before he came to visit the dying Metropolitan also had a dream. He saw him sitting in the area in front of the Metropolitan's quarters. Suddenly a bird flew up, carrying a blossoming branch, then changed into the image of an angel with blossoming branches in his arms. Bishop Simon said to someone "It's an angel…" and someone replied "Yes, it's one of twelve." The Metropolitan saw these dreams as a portent of his death. He reposed on June 28, 1931.

      On the anniversary of the death of Metropolitan Innokenty in his sermon Archbishop Simon said: "The late Metropolitan Innokenty especially revered the day of his consecration as a bishop as the day of the foundation of Christ's church in China, but not June 3rd, but the Day of the Holy Spirit, the second day of the feast of Pentecost, which fell on that date that year… According to the liturgy of the Orthodox Church when a new church is being built, the relics of the martyrs are laid under the altar by the hands of the bishop. So, the remains of those Chinese who had suffered as martyrs for the Orthodox faith were collected by the hands of the late Metropolitan Innokenty and buried on the land of the Mission in Beijing."[32]

      All the churches, houses and structures of the Mission in Beijing built by Metropolitan Innokenty, were alive with memory and were inspired by his testament. He was buried in the crypt of the Church of All Martyrs on the territory of the Mission built by him, in the fraternal grave of the Holy Chinese martyrs.

      In this church, from 1938 to 1957 lay the remains of the relatives of Tsar Nicholas II, killed in Alapaevsk in 1918. In 1938, in connection with the beginning of the Japanese occupation of China they were transferred within the walls of the Mission and in 1959 in connection with the replanning of the territory of the former Mission, on which the Soviet embassy was located, the relics were again transferred to the cemetery. In a letter to Bishop Hilarion of Manhattan of June 6, 1990 T. Bagration remembered: "… the late Bishop John of Shanghai told Matushka Tamara that when our people left Beijing and the Reds were going to take it over, the coffins were laid under the ground and covered in cement so that they could not be found."[33]

      With the death of Metropolitan Innokenty an entire epoch of the Mission in China reached its conclusion. An irreconcilable opponent of democratic principles in the church, at his very coffin the efforts of the Russian reformers to incarnate their 'revolutionary' designs made themselves known. They tried to transform the church's organization as it existed within the bounds of the Ecclesiastical Mission. A nationalistic character was given to this question.

      In place of Metropolitan Innokenty, Bishop Simon, raised to the dignity of archbishop on June 12, 1931, was appointed.

      Archbishop Simon (in the world, Sergei) was born in 1826 in the family the rector of the Church of the Meeting in Vladimir on the Kliazma, Archpriest Andrei Vinogradov. From his youth he dreamed about monasticism and strove towards a solitary, ascetic life. Having finished the church school and seminary in Vladimir, he entered the Kazan Theological Academy. While still a student at the academy he was tonsured into monasticism on May 7, 1899 by Bishop Anthony (Khrapovitsky) and named Simon, and with two days was ordained into the diaconate. In 1901 he became a Hieromonk. Finishing the academy with the degree "kandidat" of theology, Hieromonk Simon was appointed to the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in China. Having arrived in Beijing he zealously undertook missionary service and the restoration of the property of the mission which has been destroyed during the uprising of the Yihetuan. For a while he served at the representation church of the mission in Harbin. On the feast of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos in 1907 he was raised to the dignity of Archimandrite and on September 17, 1922 his ordination to Bishop of Shanghai, first vicar of the Beijing diocese, took place. With the appearance of Russian emigrants in China, Bishop Simon displayed particular care with his suffering countrymen.

      His Grace Simon showed himself to be an image of humility and obedience. A zealous man of prayer, he was an ascetic his whole life trying to be inconspicuous. His outstanding trait, besides asceticism and complete humility, was his strictness to himself in regard to fulfillment of his duties. To those close to him he always maintained a loving and good-hearted attitude. He had a gift for words. Many remember him as an elder, one who had attained spiritual peace and was adorned with spiritual insight.

      The short period of the administration of the 19th Mission was not peaceful. It was darkened by an attempted schism by the Chinese clergy headed by the oldest Chinese priest, son of the Hieromartyr Mitrophan Ji (the first Chinese priest), Archpriest Sergei Chang. After Metropolitan Innokenty's death, Fr. Chang sent a request to the Nanjing Government requesting that he be appointed head of the Ecclesiastical mission as the most senior clergyman in China. In his attempt to do this he was guided by the fact that Metropolitan Innokenty had not left a written testament to his Chinese flock. His primary motive was, of course, his desire to get possession of the Mission's property. Under Metropolitan Innokenty, Fr. Sergei had helped him with his lawsuits, had connections with Chinese courts, knew many influential people and was well-informed on legal questions. Fr. Sergei believed that the fundamental task of the Mission, the preaching Orthodoxy among the Chinese, had been unfairly replaced, in his view, with care for the Russian emigrants. The Nanjing government, having examined Fr. Sergei's request, confirmed him in the post of Head of the Mission, so formally he was in control of the property. But in fact, Archbishop Simon was in charge.

      The later successor of Archbishop Simon, the head of the 20th Mission, Bishop Victor (Sviatin) recalled that those tumultuous times "already when the head of the mission was the late Archbishop Simon… the Chinese Orthodox clergy, supported by the Kuomintang party, took all measures to seize the Mission. It has almost been agreed to reduce the role of the Head of the Mission to being honorary head of the council of the Mission, at which point the management and property of the Mission would be in the hands of the Chinese clergy. At that time I was Archbishop Simon's Vicar Bishop. I came to his help at just the right time and through our joint efforts the wicked plot was averted"[34]. Archbishop Simon showed unexpected firmness declaring it was not the time for changes in church structure, as demanded by Fr. Sergei Chang's supporters and then all reforms were put off.

      Nevertheless, Archbishop Simon had to give way in questions relating to divorce. With great effort he followed the path of the Prophet Moses who allowed people to present a letter of divorce "…because of the hardness of the hearts of the people of Israel." However, having established a divorce commission in the Mission, he moved it from Beijing to Shanghai and put it under the authority of the Shanghai Vicar Bishop.

      In light of the attempts of the Higher Church Administration to enact democratic reforms in the Church in China, Bishop Simon gave Archimandrite Victor (Sviatin) the task of developing a position paper on the administration of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in China and the Chinese Diocese of the Orthodox Church.

      Becoming convinced the church administration in Europe did not fully understand the special circumstances of the Mission in China, in 1932 he sent Archimandrite Victor as his representative to the Bishop's Council in Sremski Karlovtsy (Yugoslavia). The result of this trip was a better understanding of the affairs of the Mission. The Russian Ecclesiastical Mission was organized as a diocese with five deaneries.

      A special concern of Archbishop Simon was the establishment of a permanent church in Shanghai. After the defeat of the revolution of 1926-1927 in China the leadership of the Kuomintang party declared itself the central government of China and transferred the capital from Beijing to Nanjing. A civil war began in China. The Cathedral of the Transfiguration, which had been founded as far back as 1903 in 1927 found itself the epicenter of military action. The clergy of the Cathedral, under the guard of the police of the International Settlement and the Shanghai Russian Regiment, were evacuated to the French Concession. All of the Russian population moved there. The Cathedral was robbed by Chinese soldiers. Construction of a new church dedicated to the icon "Surety of Sinners" was begun in the French Concession. Services in the old Cathedral were restored only in 1929, however, the majority of the parishioners transferred to the new cathedral which is where the bishop served.

      The old Theophany Cathedral and the society's building were preserved right up to 1932 when on January 28th, when a shell as part of Japanese military activity, fell on the bell tower of the church and caused a fire, destroyed the first Orthodox church in Shanghai. Only the sacred vessels and an insignificant part of the church plate were successfully transferred to the Episcopal Church.

      The Japanese authorities, although they acknowledged their fault and promised to rebuild the church, but when they occupied Shanghai laid the road on the site of the Theophany Church and from that time no one remembered the old cathedral.

      The completion of the construction of the new cathedral in honor of the Theotokos icon "Surety of Sinners" was Archbishop Simon's last testament. He said "Last year we were deprived of our newly consecrated cathedral. The Lord permitted the destruction of our church. Awaiting our repentance, the Lord allowed us to build a prayer house, but if we think that we can get by without a church, the anger of God will not delay and one day we will be deprived of our prayer houses, and we will be left to wander in the darkness which we have loved more than the light… The Russian community if it approaches the construction of a church with faith and unanimity, will be blessed before God. The Athos icon of the Mother of God was sent to China in 1903. In 1926 it was given to me as a blessing on my departure from Shanghai. This icon is called "Surety of Sinners" as is written on the icon itself. The Most Holy Virgin Mary intercedes for sinners before God for their correction and promises her help to all those who seek it…"[35] Archbishop Simon was not fated to complete the construction of the cathedral. In the middle of February 1933, Archbishop Simon caught a cold while blessing the site of the cathedral in Shanghai. The illness progressed and on February 24th he died peacefully. His body was transferred to Beijing and buried in the crypt of the right gallery of the Church of All Holy Martyrs, next to the place of burial of Metropolitan Innokenty. When the coffin with his remains were transferred in 1940 it was observed that they were incorrupt. He was one of the ascetics of piety. "A standard of faith and an image of meekness."

      The Synod Abroad chose Bishop Victor as head of the 20th mission. He was born in the family of Deacon Victor Sviatin in the town of Verkhneuralskii in Orenburg province on August 2, 1893 and was named Leonid. After finishing seminary in Orenburg, he entered the Kazan Theological Academy. Within two years Leonid Sviatin — a fervent patriot — was sent to the active army the Caucasian front. The Revolution overtook him there. After unsuccessful attempts to restore discipline in the demoralized unit, and after the final collapse of the front, he arrived in Chelyabinsk, where he was appointed Chief of the Organization department of the Orenburg White Army. After a long stubborn struggle against Red Army units in the Turgaisky and Semirechensky steppes, retreated to the border of Chinese Turkestan as a member of General Bakich's unit. Together with others hopelessly sick with typhus, staff Captain Leonid Sviatin was evacuated to China. After recovering from his illness as a member of a group under the leadership of General G. P. Zhukov he reached Beijing via Hankou where he found refuge within the walls of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission and a spiritual guide, the future Head of the 19th Mission, Archimandrite Simon. Leonid Sviatin accepted monastic tonsure with the name Victor. The text of his request to Metropolitan Innokenty to be tonsured a monk has been preserved:

      "My late father really wanted to see me serving in Christ's church and was glad when I, in God's mercy, finished the Orenburg Theological Seminary and went to study in the Theological Academy. I fully shared his view but God judged otherwise. The World War threw me into the stormy waves of the sea of life and the oncoming squall of the revolution spilled my father's blood. After long wandering, grievous trials, misfortunes and the loss of everything dear to my heart, by the will of almighty God I found myself close to the paths of my former life. The ordinary life of worldly people, with its politics, base intrigues and wanderings does not satisfy me at all. It does reach my soul, and I feel a strong desire to leave the gaping emptiness of worldly life.

      My strengths are not yet exhausted; my soul has not yet been extinguished. I have energy; I haven't lost my mental capacities. I am still young and will bring all my strength to aid the work of Christ's Church and therefore, I ask you, Your Eminence, for your permission and blessing on my tonsure into the monastic order.

      I hope on the Lord Jesus that He will help me to cleanse my soul of sinful passions, strengthen me and guide me. I believe that the Son of God will not leave me, will open a spring of saving Christian love in my sinful heart and 'love gives birth to knowledge' and therefore the hours of trial and days of melancholy will not be frightening to me. I will know and feel that I stand on the one path which leads to the knowledge of the goodness, truth and beauty of life.

      I need your episcopal prayers, I remain your sinful, unworthy and lowly novice Leonid Sviatin."[36]

      Here he was soon ordained to the priesthood and in 1921, at the direction of the Head of the Mission Bishop Innokenty, he was sent to the Oriental Institute in Vladivostok to study Chinese. Until 1922 the last remnants of the White Army was fighting in the Maritime Region, but in October they were forced to leave its boundaries.

      A wave of refugees again brought Hieromonk Victor to Beijing. In that same year he was appointed rector of the Church in Tianjin. In Tianjin Fr. Victor was whole heartedly devoted to the service of his fellow man. He tried to shelter, clothe, feed and find them jobs. In essence, in those years his apartment can be called Fr. Victor's Home of Charity. The emigrants called it "Hotel Victor". In 1929 at the time of the great consecration of the Holy Virgin Protection Church in Tianjin, Fr. Victor was raised to the dignity of Archimandrite. At the time of his attendance at the Church council in Sremski Karlovitskii, the president of the Council, Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky) proposed that Archimandrite Victor be raised to the episcopacy and appointed vicar of the Beijing diocese in Shanghai. This decision was unexpected to the Archimandrite and he asked to delay its implementation as he did not have the formal agreement of the Head of the Mission, Archbishop Simon. Archimandrite Victor was returning to China but his journey was cut short by Metropolitan Anthony who had received by telegraph the necessary agreement from Archbishop Simon. On November 6, 1932 the consecration of Fr. Victor as Bishop of Shanghai took place in the Cathedral in Belgrade.

      In July 1934 Archbishop Simon, as the head of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in China, ran into trouble from the Chinese clergy just as his predecessor Archbishop Simon had.

      On February 9, 1934, the senior Chinese priest of the Mission, Archpriest Sergei Chang, wrote a letter to the locum tenans of the Patriarchal Throne, Metropolitan Sergius (Stragorodsky) in Moscow with a complaint about the new Head of the Mission, Bishop Victor, who had been confirmed by the Synod Abroad on the death of Archbishop Simon, a ruling bishop of the Beijing diocese without (allegedly) the knowledge of the mission's clergy. Priest Sergius Chang also wrote that he himself had been confirmed in his position as the legitimate successor of Metropolitan Innokenty as Head of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in China by the Nanjing government and that legally he controlled the property of the Mission. In the letter Archpriest Sergius Chang asked Metropolitan Sergius to accept him and the faithful loyal to him under his omophorion. Archpriest Sergius Chang tried to draw the Moscow hierarchs into the Mission's internal conflicts.

      On April 11, 1934 the Tianjin Russian newspaper "Novaya Zarya" published Metropolitan Sergius's telegraphed reply to Archpriest Sergei Chang. "I receive you into the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate. For the time being, I entrust you with the oversight of all Orthodox parishes in China. I await a detailed report. Metropolitan Sergius," The Locum Tenens, in violation of church canons, received into his jurisdiction parishes which did not belong to him. On Pascha 1934, Archpriest Sergei offered prayers for the health of Metropolitan Sergius who was not recognized by any local Orthodox Church."

      In a letter to Metropolitan Sergius of November 29, 1935 Archpriest Sergei Chang wrote "The leading clergy do not have a theological education. Some were Boxers — murderers of Orthodox Christians during the Boxer Rebellion. Others were apostates from the faith and the Mother Church who had seized spiritual authority. A third were those who had been deposed or dismissed for crimes. All of these people now live together and use the goods of the Mission. My followers and I have suffered much from them."[37] Further on in the letter Archpriest Sergei proposed the creation of a Far Eastern exarchate headed by Metropolitan Sergius of Japan. In regard to the fact that jurisdiction over the diocese on Chinese territory were subject to the Karlovtsy Synod, Archpriest Sergei wrote "the laborers in the vineyard killed the other laborers, the overseers killed the other overseers not because of the fruit, but because of hatred of one another… Master, do not worry about me, since I do not recognize Metropolitan Anthony, and I will not do so, but at the request of the Orthodox Chinese and Russians, simply allow Bishop Victor to temporarily take refuge in the Mission until the decision of the conference on condition of future recognition of you as head of the church… You, Master, of course do not want to throw out the tares with the grain. Be patient, allow them both to grow until their time… My main request… is to save the innocent Orthodox Chinese from the arbitrariness of the refugees. The Russian clergy, illegal usurpers of the mission."[38]

      To this letter, asserting his own authority, the author added his own description of all the clergy of the mission, painting them in the most unflattering color. It is interesting that in all his further letters to Moscow Fr. Sergei sent them on stationary with the heading "Chinese diocese, director of the Orthodox parishes" and signed them as the "Administrator of the Chinese Diocese". "Chinese Orthodox Church" was engraved on the seal. In his Paschal greeting of March 25, 1936, he wrote "I humbly pray that God give you good health and strength for the correction of the former Russian Church which had lost its canonical strength, and for the return of the erring pastors raised in slavery and bearing academic distinction, and not an apostolic spirit. May the Lord give you the wisdom and intelligence to do good for your homeland — the USSR."[39]

      From the canonical point of view, this was an attempt at an ecclesiological schism in addition to violating all rules and ecclesiastical canons — Fr. Sergei did not notify Bishop Victor about his letter to Moscow, falsely telling him that he recognized him as head of the mission while at the same time to get recognition for himself as having all the legal rights of Head of the Mission. How could Fr. Sergei not subordinate himself to Metropolitan Anthony and at least temporarily recognize Bishop Victor as Head of the Mission? In his attempt to seize the Mission, Fr. Sergei depended on the nationalistic mood of the Chinese clergy who desired to run the Mission though not being mature enough to do this.

      We should take note of the fact that in the abovementioned letter Fr. Sergei noted that already in 1935 Bishop Victor was thinking about possible ways to unite with the Moscow church authority when the circumstances were favorable.

      In the church nothing is done without the lawful blessing of the bishop — no solitary priest has the right to arbitrarily decide the question of the "canonical authority" or the grace of one or another church in absence of a legitimate council, which could decide such matters. In addition, a priest can only cease to obey his bishop only if the latter is openly heretical and persists in his error. But everyone knew Bishop Victor as a zealous pastor and loved and remembered him for his charity. Happily for the Mission, Fr. Sergei Chang won only a few people to his side. Basically, these were the clergy of his parish in Tianjin. The greater part of the Chinese clergy, and especially the laity, were grateful to their Russian pastor for their heroic missionary labors in difficult circumstances and for the love which clergy, who by God's will, were in China, had shown. However, the attempted schism in 1935 with its goal of submission to the church authorities in Moscow unexpectedly disclosed differences of opinion among the clergy of the Mission. Bishop Victor and his flock were able to convince the Nanjing government of the rightness of their position and the schism quieted down on its own.

      In light of the complicated internal political situation in China, Bishop Victor was faced with the necessity of a complex centralization of the management of the Mission. First of all, by a decree of May 3, 1938 he relocated the Mission's Council from Shanghai to Beijing and established the Mission's Board, which consisted of the Council, the Economic Board and the chancellery. At the basis of the Board of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission as a diocese was established:

        1. The elevation of the Head of the Ecclesiastical Mission to the rank of Archbishop was the founding of the Chinese Orthodox Church, which was confirmed by the Bishop's Council of the Russian Church Abroad, which determi

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