Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Saint Job, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia (+ 1607)

St. Job of Moscow (Feast Day - June 19)

Saint Job, the first Patriarch of Moscow, was born into a family of pious tradesmen in Staritsa near Tver in the 1530s. His baptismal name was John.

As a teenager, John knew most of the biblical texts by heart and strove to become a monk. His father, however, insisted that he marry. One day John asked his father's permission to see his confessor in the Uspensky Monastery in their native town of Staritsa. Upon his arrival, John immediately took monastic vows and assumed the monastic name of Job. He spent fifteen years in the cloister and finally became its abbot in 1566 with the help of Ivan the Terrible, who had made Staritsa his residence during the time of the Oprichnina.

In 1571, Job was transferred to Moscow and appointed abbot of the Simonov Monastery. In 1575, he became the abbot of the Novospassky Monastery. In 1581, Job was consecrated as Bishop of Kolomna.

Though considered by some to be a person of mediocre mental abilities, he nevertheless managed to draw the attention of Tsar Boris Godunov by his talent for reading the longest of prayers by heart in a very expressive manner. During the reign of Feodor I (whose government was controlled by Boris Godunov), Job was appointed Archbishop of Rostov.


Realizing the necessity of strengthening the ecclesiastic authority in Russia, Godunov managed to persuade the Patriarch of Constantinople Jeremias II to establish a patriarchate in Russia. On 5 February 1589 Job was elected the first Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia. He exercised all his influence and played a major part in Boris Godunov's ascending to the Russian throne.

Job did not approve, however, of Godunov's proposal to open a university in Moscow staffed with foreign professors because he believed their influence and non-Orthodox faith would spread heterodoxy and endanger the purity of the Russian Church. Under Job's supervision, the Russians corrected books for the divine services and prepared them for publication.

He assisted in the glorification (canonization) of some of the Russian saints, ordering the celebration of the memory of Basil Fool for Christ in 1588, as well as that of Joseph Volotsky and others. Patriarch Job also favored the construction of new cathedrals and monasteries and Christian missionary activities in the recently conquered Astrakhan Khanate and Siberia. He also corresponded with Catholicos Nicholas V of Georgia and exchanged gifts with him. After the mysterious death of Tsarevich Dmitry Ivanovich in 1591, Job accepted the non-criminal version of his demise, supporting Boris Godunov every step of the way.

Omophorion of Patriarch Job, Museums of the Moscow Kremlin

In 1591, he headed the official enquiry into the death of Tsarevich Dmitry in Uglich. After consulting with the church council and the duma of boyars, the patriarch announced his verdict – the tsarevich had accidentally stabbed himself and not been murdered. In that year he also founded the Donskoy Monastery in Moscow.

After the death of Tsar Feodor I and the refusal of his wife, Irina Godunova, to accept the throne, Patriarch Job became the head of state in 1598. As he was much obliged to Boris Godunov for his promotion to the post of patriarch, Job offered his candidature as tsar to the Land Assembly (Zemsky sobor). On 21 February 1598, he headed a religious procession to Boris Godunov at the Novodevichy Convent, imploring him to accept the throne.

Patriarch Job refusing to recognize False Dmitry I as Ivan IV's son 
(19th-century painting by Peter Geller).

Job was known as a harsh critic of False Dmitriy I and he tried to persuade the people of Moscow to remain loyal to the deceased tsar. The armed supporters of the impostor burst into the Cathedral of the Dormition and a boyar named P. F. Basmanov declared Job a traitor. Job's formal removal from office was on June 24, 1605, when the council announced the retirement because of old age and ill health. The same council announced the granting of the dignity of the Patriarch Ignatius. Job was sent into exile to his monastery in Staritsa, where he went completely blind. Job was succeeded by Archbishop Ignatius of Ryazan and only returned to Moscow following the murder of False Dmitry I, the imprisonment of Patriarch Ignatius at the Monastery of the Miracle and the accession of Vasili IV of Russia. On February 20, 1607, at the request of Tsar Vasili Shuisky, Patriarchs Hermogen and Job jointly celebrated the Holy Liturgy at the Dormition Cathedral in the Moscow Kremlin, where he forgave the people of Moscow and gave them his blessing. He finally died a very sick man on June 19, 1607.

After his death in 1607, the relics of Patriarch Job were buried by the western doors of the Dormition Church of the monastery in Staritsa. Many miracles took place at his grave. In 1652, Tsar Alexei ordered that the relics of Saint Job and Saint Philip to be transferred to the Cathedral of the Dormition of the Moscow Kremlin, where they remain to this day.

Monument to Saint Job in the Holy Dormition Monastery (Staritsa)

Metropolitan Barlaam of Rostov presided at the uncovering of Saint Job’s relics in Staritsa. The Patriarch’s incorrupt and fragrant relics became the source of healing for many who were afflicted by physical and mental illnesses. On March 27 a procession set off for Moscow with the relics. On Monday of the sixth week of Lent (April 5), the relics of Patriarch Job were brought to the Passions Monastery. From there, the procession proceeded to the Kremlin, and the relics of the saint were placed in the Dormition Cathedral. A few days later, Patriarch Joseph died and was buried next to Saint Job.

Saint Job has long been revered as a worker of miracles. The Altar Crosses in the churches of the Staritsa monastery and the Tver cathedral contained particles of his holy relics. Patriarch Job was glorified as a Saint by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1989.


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