Varnava of Serbia (+1937)
Love the Russian People"
(on the 75th anniversary of his enthronement)
From the Editors: On June 9/22, 1930, at the
Russian Holy Trinity Church in Belgrade, His Holiness Patriarch
Varnava of Serbia, a spiritual giant and great friend of the Russian
people, addressed the parishioners of the Russian Orthodox Church
Outside of Russia with the following archpastoral words. Patriarch
Varnava received his theological education in Russia, where he became
acquainted with many great hierarchs of the Russian Church of the
20th century who later became Holy New Martyrs. Here he came to
know Blessed Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky, +1936), who headed
the Council of Bishops Abroad. His four-year sojourn in Russia,
during which he did not leave the country once, made a deep impression
on the sensitive soul of the future patriarch. The beauty and splendor
of Russian divine services and all their ecclesiastical rites remained
forever in his soul, and wherever he found himself--as a bishop,
a metropolitan and then patriarch--the future Serbian archpastor
introduced the Russian tradition into divine services. Gentle, hospitable
Russia became for him a second homeland. During his 4th year at
St Petersburg Theological Academy, Petr Rosic (the name of Patriarch
Varnava as a layman), was tonsured to the monkhood with the name
Varnava, which in translation means the "son of consolation."
The young monk earned his name in the future as a great man of mercy.
In 1930, Metropolitan Varnava of Skopl was elected Patriarch of
Serbia. During the seven years of his patriarchal service, he introduced
new law and rites for the Serbian Church. Church life acquired a
rhythm. Strong young cadres of theologians arose. An enormous patriarchal
house was built. The capital was adorned with new churches. Attendance
at the capital's churches increased many fold. Everywhere, magnificent
choirs were formed. Fervent work on the Christian life was performed.
When His Holiness Patriarch Varnava, protector and benefactor of
the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, died in 1937, the
entire Russian ĪmigrĪ community experienced deep sorrow, expressing
it in tears and fervent prayers at all funerary services:Beloved
I am glad that the Lord allowed me, for the first time, today, as
Patriarch, to enter the historic Russian church in Belgrade, to
hear the words of greeting by the worthy protopriest and receive
from him your gift to me of this white klobuk. The white klobuk
is a symbol of Russian hierarchs, in which the white symbolizes
purity, and the cross is the cross of suffering, which is borne
by the Russian bishops in these years, both in their homeland and
all over the world, together with their God-loving flock.
Your love and your gift bolster within me even more those feelings
which I have felt for you.
I love you not only for being Russian people who reside in my Patriarchate;
I love you even more as the representatives of the great Russian
nation, the pillars of the Ecumenical Church; a people who accepted
in their hearts the southern Slavs, among whom are we, the Serbs.
Gazing upon the Russian people now, "where shall we begin to
weep?" or to rejoice? We weep that you lost your fatherland,
that day after day wails and cries from there are heard, where before
was the perpetual singing of the victorious hymn to God. We weep
that your fatherland has been taken over by an antagonistic force
which rejects God, which kills His faithful servants: hierarchs,
pastors and devoted sons of the Church. This is all sent down not
only for our sins, but also as a test from God. Only a people great
in spirit, a people of whom such great saints, martyrs and confessors
have come, who adorn the Church, could have endured such torture,
and we rejoice when we hear how the Russian martyrs stand for the
Church. Such suffering could only be seen in the first centuries
of Christianity, and even then there were not so many martyrs as
the Russian Church has given us now.
Know that the heathens who persecute the Church, who not only torture
her but try to split her apart, divide her, are stretching their
criminal hands towards you who are outside the borders of the fatherland.
You, devoted sons of Russia, must remember that you are the sole
pillar of the great Russian people, you are obligated no matter
what to preserve unharmed your people's church traditions in all
their purity. This is your duty before God, before your great homeland
and before the entire Christian world. The divisions in the church,
sown by the enemies of our homeland, must cease no matter what may
Among you is the great hierarch, His Eminence Metropolitan Anthony,
who is a jewel of the Ecumenical Orthodox Church. This is a lofty
mind equal to the first hierarchs of the Church of Christ in the
beginning of Christianity. Within him is the truth of the Church,
and those who have split away from him, must return. All of you,
not only those living in our Serbia, but those who are in America,
in Asia, in all the countries of the world, must form a single indomitable
whole together with your archpastor, Metropolitan Anthony, which
will not succumb to the attacks and provocations of the enemies
of our Church.
As the Serbian Patriarch, and as your own brother, I fervently pray
God that He unite the Russian people who are abroad into one body;
so that Russia would rise again as she once was, with an Orthodox
Tsar at the helm, and I bless you all with a Patriarchal blessing
in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and all His saints. Amen.