An OCN staff member discovered a wonderful article (with photographs!) about Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco on the website of a church in Kennewick, WA, of which this saint is the patron. Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco Orthodox Church is a mission, but it already has an informative website that’s definitely worth a visit. If you’re traveling in their area, consider visiting this parish on Sunday morning.
Here’s a selection from the article about this North American saint.
Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco
“Holiness is not simply righteousness, for which the righteous merit the enjoyment of blessedness in the Kingdom of God, but rather such a height of righteousness that men are filled with the grace of God to the extent that it flows from them upon those who associate with them. Great is their blessedness; it proceeds from personal experience of the Glory of God. Being filled also with love for men, which proceeds from love of God, they are responsive to men’s needs, and upon their supplication they appear also as intercessors and defenders for them before God.” — St. John Maximovitch
What better description could be found to portray the essence of a man whose love for Christ drew him to such heights of spiritual perfection that he enkindled the faith of thousands from East to West? The life of St. John Maximovitch demonstrates more vividly than any words that true Christianity far exceeds the bounds of human “goodness”. Here is a shining reflection of the supernatural love of God which works miracles, a living proof that the burning faith of the early Christian saints still warms the earth at a time when the love of many has grown cold.
St. John did not isolate himself from the world, but he was not of this world. First and foremost he was a man of prayer. He completely surrendered himself to God, presenting himself as a “living sacrifice” and he became a true vessel of the Holy Spirit. His work as an apostle, missionary and miracle worker continues even now.
This saint of the latter times was born June 4, 1896 in the province of Kharkov. At baptism he was given the name Michael. As a child he was serious for his years and he later wrote: “From the first days when I began to become aware of myself, I wished to serve righteousness and truth. My parents kindled in me a striving to stand unwaveringly for the truth, and my soul was captivated by the example of those who had given their lives for it.”
Following the desire of his parents, he entered law school in Kharkov. He was a naturally gifted student but spent more time reading the Lives of Saints than attending academic lectures. “While studying the worldly sciences,” he wrote, “I went all the more deeply into the study of the science of sciences, into the study of the spiritual life.”
After the Revolution, he was evacuated together with his family to Belgrade where he entered the faculty of theology at the University. In 1926, a year after his graduation, he was tonsured a monk and given the name John, after his own distant relative, St. John of Tobolsk. In November of that same year, he was ordained hieromonk. Soon he became a teacher at the Serbian Seminary of St. John the Theologian at Bitol. More than once the bishop there, St. Nikolai Velimirovich, would say, “If you wish to see a living saint, go to Fr. John.”