Blessed Metropolitan Anastassy (Gribanovsky)

Epistle of Archbishop John of Western Europe and Brussels on the 50th Anniversary of the Episcopacy of
Blessed Metropolitan Anastassy

We ask the clergy of the Western European Diocese and the flock of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia on the day of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul this year to lift your prayers especially fervently for the First Hierarch, Metropolitan Anastassy, whose 50th anniversary as a bishop falls on that day.
He is the third Russian Hierarch since the Baptism of Russia who has served for so long as a bishop.

Born on the Transfiguration of the Lord, he was as if from birth called to ascend lofty spiritual heights. He embarked on this path from his youth, during his school days already excelling in his impeccable morality, his example influencing his companions.

Upon completing theological academy and being tonsured into monasticism, he assumed positions in religious schools, exhibiting talent, in a few years becoming the Principal of the Bethany Seminary.

A profound piety, scholasticism, eloquence, multifaceted activity and a sensitivity to everyone drew attention to him from the Church administration as well as the flock of the capital city of Moscow.

On 29 June, 1906, he was consecrated bishop of Serpukhov, vicar of Moscow, where he stayed. Upon the canonization of Bishop Hermogen in 1913, he was asked to speak, despite the fact that there were some 20 bishops in attendance. Loved and respected by all circles in Moscow, that is, besides those antagonistic to the Church, on 20 May 1914, he was appointed Bishop of Kholma, and two months later found himself in the midst of military operations.

He exhibited bravery then, and a kind shepherd to the Russian soldier. After the occupation of the area by the enemy, the Church administration transferred him to the Kishinev Diocese, where Russia’s direst days found him. He took active participation in the All-Russian Council in Moscow. He was, in fact, entrusted with preparing and composing the ceremony of the elevation of Patriarch Tikhon to the Patriarchal Throne that had been empty for over 200 years.

He was one of the five Members of the Patriarchal Synod chosen by the Council and the only one to survive.

Upon the ceding of Bessarabia to Rumania, he preferred to stay with the Russian Church and drink from Her cup.

Sent by Metropolitan Anthony to the Kharkov’ see, as its most worthy heir, Archbishop Anastassy, following the collapse of the Volunteer Army, fled Russia.

From that day forward he shares with Russian exiles their sorrows and grief, remaining in his heart, his thoughts and all his actions with the suffering and persecuted Russian Church, at the same time showing his zeal in disseminating and strengthening Orthodoxy the world over.

Upon the death of Metropolitan Anthony of blessed memory, he became the heir not to the Kharkov’ Diocese, but of the entire Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, scattered throughout the world.

Zealously seeking to preserve unity and concord among all the Local Orthodox Churches, he exhibited a high degree of love for peace, humility and concessions to a certain degree, but in matters of purity and piety he was unshakeable. Feeling special pain over the Russian Church tormented by the Soviet State, the hierarchy of which the forces of darkness are trying to coerce to their own ends, he decisively and staidly protects the part of the Russian Church with is abroad from the influence of that State. In the sorrowful days of the Russian exiles, when they were being turned over to the State for its revenge, from which they had fled, he was their consoler and protector, doing everything possible for their deliverance, personally visiting and spiritually strengthening them.

Now, in America, he continues to stand guard over the Russian Diaspora, fighting all temptations, no matter whence they come. On the 50th anniversary of his episcopacy he has become a world-renowned hierarch, occupying a lofty lantern of the Orthodox Church. The staid archpastor attracts like a magnet those hearts that wish to remain, in exile, the children of the Russian Orthodox Church, for which our First Hierarch suffers blasphemy and slander from Her enemies.

On the fiftieth anniversary of his episcopacy, let us lift our fervent prayers for him, and on that day may we sent him our greetings as a testimony to the truth of the path he shows us.


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