His Holiness, Patriarch Kyrill of Moscow & All Russia has addressed the following epistle to the faithful on the occasion of the celebration of the 400th anniversary of the day on which Hieromartyr Hermogegnes, Patriarch of Moscow & All Russia, reposed.
Most Reverend archpastors, right honorable fathers, dear brethren and sisters!
On this day, the Russian Orthodox Church celebrates the prayerful memorial of Hieromartyr Hermogenes, Patriarch of Moscow & All Russia, who dedicated all his powers, and even his very life, to the preservation of Orthodoxy, sovereign independence and national self-determination in our land.
In the late 16th-early 17th centuries, our homeland was caught up in a profound spiritual, economic and political crisis. The extinction of the royal dynasty, countless disputes among the noble families, foreign invasion and strife among the people had brought the country to the brink of catastrophe: the threat of the introduction of another religion.
While the people languished in spiritual darkness, when the majority did not understand who was friend or who was foe, when even a part of the Church welcomed the foreigners, considering their rule a good thing, the holy hierarch Hermogenes, who had been imprisoned in a dungeon by the occupiers and subjected to physical sufferings, remained faithful to his country and his high patriarchal duty. With fiery appeals and his personal example he showed the people the importance of standing in the Truth. The archpastor did not lose that spiritual criterion which permits one clearly to distinguish Truth from falsehood. He preserved this ability precisely because he was close to God, and no material advantages, or the temptations of the authorities, or considerations of comfort, were able to obscure his inner, enlightened vision of divine Truth.
Under the influence of his epistles, and with his blessing, the army of Kuzma Minin and Prince Pozharsky was formed, which liberated the capital. However, the holy confessor of Christ did not himself live to see this longed-for event: the enemy starved him to death in captivity.
The appeals and prayers of the eighty-year old elder, who was dying in prison, moved those who had apostatized to reconsider; they inspired those who were seeking a way to revive a weakened Russia; and moved to mercy the One Who grants every victory.
Patrrarch Hermogenes was a martyr on the patriarchal cathedra of Moscow, a symbol of sacrificial service to the Church, and for all time an example of loyalty to Christ and love for his homeland. Yet the name of the holy hierarch, like the names of many great military leaders and rulers, has been undeservedly forgotten today. It is fitting that the memory of this true patriot and confessor of the Lord be revived and preserved forever by the erection of suitable monument to him in the capital.
The words of the holy martyr, confessor and hierarch Hermogenes apply to us today in no small degree: "To all of you from me be blessing and remission, in this age and that which is to come! Stand immovably for the Truth; and I will pray to God for you!" We believe that even now he is standing before the throne of God, begging that the Russian realm be made steadfast in Orthodoxy, strengthening the unity of the people, the rebirth of the spiritual might of our land.
Let us be faithful heirs of our right glorious predecessors, who, not sparing their own lives, not seeking the easy way, not hiding from those trials which the Lord sent them, defended their Christian Faith and Holy Russia, which without that Faith is unthinkable. We must love its beauty, increase its patrimony, preserve its independence.
Through the supplications of the holy hierarch Hermogenes and of all the saints who have shone forth in the Russian land, may the protecting veil of the Queen of heaven be unfailingly be spread over our homeland. May the Lord preserve us in peace, oneness of mind and prosperity. Amen.
Patriarch of Moscow & All Russia