St. John of Shanghai, an impeccable Russian patriot, monarchist and anti-ecumenist, drew up a list of Western Orthodox saints to be added to the Russian Orthodox calendar, word has reached Moscow. Yesterday the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church decided to add them to the universal Russian Orthodox calendar. This is a great spiritual victory. For over four decades we in the Russian Orthodox Diaspora have been adding the names of thousands of these saints to our local calendars, writing their lives, painting their icons, composing and celebrating services to them, venerating their holy relics and going on pilgrimage to them. Now we have official recognition from His Holiness Patriarch Kirill.
With this, the Russian Orthodox Church has recognized what She has always proclaimed, that the Orthodox Church is the only Church, that there is no such thing as saints outside the Orthodox Church, to which belong therefore all the saints venerated by the Orthodox faithful in the West up until 1054. That is when the leaders of the Church in Western Europe took Her into schism and ending Her existence, founding Roman Catholicism, which, as is known, later spread into a myriad of protesting branches and sects.
The fact that Roman Catholicism and even some of its other branches venerate Orthodox saints does not in any way mean that those saints are not Orthodox. We should rejoice that Roman Catholics and others venerate the Apostles Peter and Paul, who were martyred in Rome, the Protomartyr of Britain, St. Alban, St. Patrick, the Enlightener of Ireland or St. Genevieve of Paris. They are venerating Orthodox saints. We know from pastoral experience over many decades that such heterodox even find their way into the Orthodox Church in this way, through the saints of the lands in which they live. Glory be to God! The local saints are wonderful missionaries, even in our own days.
Of course, there is nothing new in finding saints of the West in the Russian Orthodox calendar. Look at St. Tatiana of Rome, or St. Irenaeus of Lyon, St. Julian of Le Mans (Cenomansis), St. Alexei the Man of God, St. Hilary of Poitiers (“Piktavijskij”), St. Ambrose of Milan, St. Cassian of Marseille, St. Leo the Great, St. Gregory the Dialogist, both popes of Rome, and a host of others. They have always been in the Russian Orthodox calendar. So has St. Athanasius of Alexandria, who wrote his Life of St. Antony the Great while in exile in Trier in modern Germany. So has St. Symeon the Stylite who corresponded with St. Genevieve of Paris.
True, there may be some of a pharisaical, chauvinistic and even neo-pagan mentality, who do not like having non-Russians in the Russian Orthodox calendar. Such people will certainly have to exclude from their calendars Christ Himself, the Mother of God Herself, as well as the Apostles, St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, St. Basil the Great, St. John Chrysostom and thousands of others from the Church calendar—after all, none of them was Russian. And they would also have to exclude from the Church calendar, St. Olga and St. Vladimir, who were Scandinavians, as well as the Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II, who was only 1/128th Russian by blood, not to mention the Tsarina Alexandra, who was German.
We have always believed that the Russian Orthodox Church, alone of all the Local Orthodox Churches, is multinational. All the others are mononational, looking after only their own nationality, Romanian, Greek, Serb, Bulgarian, Georgian, etc. If this is the case, and such great figures in Russian history as Patriarch Nikon, Dostoyevsky, Metropolitan Antony Khrapovitsky and saints like St. Seraphim of Sarov, St. John of Kronstadt and St. John of Shanghai, who all saw for Russia a universal, messianic mission in these last times, are right, then let chauvinists, pharisees and neo-pagans cease expressing their ignorance of Church history. Their “Church” appears to be divided, unholy, nationalistic and anti-apostolic, but our Church is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic.