Voices from Russia

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Patriarch St Tikhon on Vengeance


Today, many suffer resentment and frustration. They urge you to thirst for vengeance; they’d put a sword into your hands. Orthodox Rus would see carnage; people would see enemies everywhere. So far, what we’ve had is minor… a most serious test and agony lay ahead. However, never… never… deify or reach for the sword. Don’t do it. Don’t wish to wield it. Truly, in these current parlous days, to repay evil with good is a podvig* in Christ, a legacy and an exemplar for future generations, and an unsurpassed testament and blessing. You’ll build up the indestructible glory and greatness of our Holy Orthodox Church in the Russian Land and even her sworn enemies will call her Holy and laud the purity of the podvig of her ministers and believers. I wish mercy and peace on all those who can accept and follow this.

Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

Epistle of St Paul to the Galatians 6.18

St Tikhon Bellavin

Patriarch of Moscow and all the Russias


  • Podvig: Should NEVER be “Englished”… one of the most powerful words in the Russian language. There are literally no English equivalents strong enough. Podvig has overtones of “epic”, “heroic”, “bravery”, “self-sacrifice”, “victory”, “effort”, and “triumph”. It’s best to leave it as is, and admit that English lacks the necessary material to give meaning to this word.


To provide context, St Tikhon wrote this in 1919, at the height of the Civil War. I dedicate this translation to Vladimir Saemmler-Hindrichs, who passed yesterday as the result of a stroke. He was a man of good repute and character… although we often didn’t agree. I believe that he would’ve been as touched by this as I was…



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