News

June 4, 2021

125th Birth Anniversary of St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco


June 4, 2021 marks the 125th birth anniversary of John of Shanghai and San Francisco — the only Karazin University alumnus who was canonized.

The future saint was born in Sloboda Ukraine — in the village of Adamivka, Izium district, Kharkiv province (now Slovianskyi district, Donetsk region) in the Maksymovyches' estate. At his baptism he was given the name Mykhailo.

From childhood, Mykhailo was deeply religious, stood in prayer at night, was fond of reading the Lives of Saints. He collected icons, historical and religious books. He had a large library, and his games were different from those of other children: toy soldiers were monks and fortresses were monasteries.

When the boy was eleven years old, he was sent to study at Poltava Cadet Corps. In 1914, after graduating, he became a student of the School of Law of Kharkiv University.

At Kharkiv University, there was a church of St. Anthony the Great, which was visited by the future saint. In addition to the University church, the young man often visited the Intercession Monastery. While studying at the University, he took part in the annual processions from Kharkiv to the Kuriazhskyi Monastery with the miraculous Yelets icon of the Mother of God.

In 1918, Mykhailo graduated from the School of Law of Kharkiv University. After the revolution, he emigrated to the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. In 1925, he graduated from the School of Theology in Belgrade, and in 1926, he became a monk (Archbishop John received his church name in honor of his relative St. John of Tobolsk).

In 1934, he was ordained Archbishop of Shanghai. Thanks to his efforts, a large cathedral was built in this city in honor of the icon of the “Companion of Sinners”, and a shelter for orphans and children of poor parents was created.

Archbishop John founded the Dutch Orthodox Church. In 1962, he moved to the United States. In 1963, he was appointed to the chair in San Francisco. Under his leadership, the largest Orthodox church in the United States, the All Saints’ Joy, was built in the city.

The Archbishop gave his sermons in various languages, including Greek, French, English and Dutch. For his modesty in life, the French called him John the Barefoot, because he preferred to walk barefoot and wore a robe until it had holes. He often even held church services barefoot, much to the surprise of the priests. The Archbishop died on July 2, 1966.

Acting Head of the International Rankings Department
Center for Public Relations
Maryna Hryhorieva

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