A Brief Life of Our Father Among the Saints ARCHBISHOP JOHN
WONDER-WORKER OF SHANGHAI AND SAN FRANCISCO
“This man, who appears weak is, in fact, a miracle of ascetic steadfastness and determination in our time of universal spiritual weakening.” - Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky)
“If you desire to see a living Saint, go to Bitol to Father John.” - Bishop Nicholas (Velimirovich)
Saint John was born on the 4th of June 1896 on the country estate of his parents, descendants of nobility, Boris Ivanovich and Glaphira Mikhailovna Maximovitch in the little town of Adamovka in the Province of Kharkov. At Baptism he received his name in honour of Saint Michael the Archangel. His paternal ancestors were of Serbian extraction. One of his ancestors, Saint John, Metropolitan of Tobolsk, was an ascetic of holy life, a missionary, and a spiritual writer. Saint John of Tobolsk lived in the first half of the 18th century and was glorified in 1916. His glorification was the last celebrated during the reign of the Tsar Martyr Nicholas.
Saint John was an obedient child; his sister recalls that it was very easy for his parents to raise him. Ruminating about his future during his youth, he could not make a definite decision as to a career, being unsure as to whether he should dedicate himself to military or civil service He only knew that his future life would be guided by an insuperable desire to stand up for the Truth, which was nurtured in him by his parents. He was inspired by the examples of those people who live their lives for the Truth.
He commenced his education at the Poltava Military Academy which, Vladyka himself would later say, “was dedicated to one of the glorious pages of the history of Russia.” He was an exemplary student, but he disliked two subjects; gymnastics and dancing. He was well liked at the academy, but nevertheless felt he should choose a different path. This idea was especially furthered by contact with the well known religious instructor at the academy, Archpriest Sergei Chetverikov, author of books about Saint Paisius Velichkovsky and the Holy Optina Elders, and with the rector of the local seminary, Archimandrite Varlaam. The day of Michael Maximovitch’s completion of the military academy coincided with that of Archbishop Anthony’s (Khrapovitsky) investiture to the catherdra of the See of Kharkov. This renowned hierarch and theologian was the main advocate of the restoration of the patriarchate in Russia, subsequently the Metropolitan of Kiev and Galich, and finally the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. Throughout his life this Archpastor inspired the church-oriented academic youth in all matters spiritual thanks to his principal attribute - his sincere love for them. Having heard about young Michael Maximovitch, of whom many spoke in church circles, Archbishop Anthony desired to meet him. It was in Kharkov that Archbishop Anthony became Saint John’s spiritual guide. This relationship continued throughout Archbishop Anthony’s whole life.
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