In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit!
Beloved in Christ! Today the Orthodox Church solemnly celebrates the radiant memory of all saints who have shone forth in the Russian land, glorified by God for their God-pleasing podvigs and holy lives. They are the firstborn of the Russian Orthodox people, redeemed by the priceless Blood of Christ and sanctified by the grace of the Holy Spirit, delivered to God the Father by Jesus Christ. They are the blessed fruit of the holy Orthodox faith, of Christianity, planted in the midst of our Russian people.
Do you remember what our homeland was before the adoption of Christianity? It was a wild and barbaric country, where human sacrifices were offered to idols, where life was spent in wars, debauchery, cruelty and violence. Only just had the beam of the Christian faith shone in Russia when the people’s lives were immediately reborn. From a cruel, perverse paganism our people, under the influence of the Christian faith, became a meek people, displaying a rare goodness of soul, simplicity of faith, devotion to Jesus Christ and the Mother of God—such devotion that for the Orthodox faith the Russian people were always prepared to give their very lives.
And in the midst of this enlightened faith our Orthodox people were reared and a host of those pleasing to God were glorified: monastics, martyrs, hierarchs, holy women, fools for Christ, such that there is no corner in Russia, no major city which has not had within its limits such luminaries and intercessors for the Russian land. Kindled on the mountains of Kiev, the light of the Christian faith has brought an abundance of fruit in the persons of the venerable fathers of the Kiev Caves Lavra; and in our south, replete with saints, where loyalty to Christ was embodied in the martyric death of His seven hieromartyrs of Kherson. Who does not know the illustrious saints of our country’s north, such as Venerable Zosima and Sabbatius of Solovki, and Sergius and Herman of Valaam, the wonderworkers? In Novgorod and Vologda who is not familiar with the podvigs of the venerable fathers Kirill of White Lake, Kirill of New Lake, Nil of Sora, Therapon of White Lake, and many others?
Hermogenes. The cities of Yaroslavl, Smolensk, Vologda, Kazan, Astrakhan, Murom, Rostov, and Vladimir all have their patrons and intercessors before the Throne of God. Even faraway Siberia beams with such light-bearers as, for example, Innocent and Sophrony of Irkutsk, Simeon of Verkhotursk, and John of Tobolsk.
The Orthodox faith reared up such great Russian saints, as Venerable Sergius of Radonezh, Seraphim of Sarov laboring in the forests of Tambov, and the holy hierarchs Joasaph of Belgorod and Tikhon of Voronezh. The names of these God-pleasers are dear not only for the Russian Orthodox people, but are venerated with love far beyond the boundaries of our country. How rich is our fatherland in men of prayer, glorious saints who number more than four hundred. And how many ascetics are there, pleasing to God, whose names we do not know! And the number of saints increased especially in recent times, when for faith in Christ, for confessing the word of God, faithful sons of the Orthodox Church by their stability and courage defeated the devil and were blessed with heavenly crowns and eternal blessed life.
Dear brothers and sisters, having such a great multitude of saints shining forth in our Russian land, we should rejoice and be comforted, that we are not alone, but we have in Heaven our older brothers, our protectors and intercessors, who see all of our needs and hear all of our prayers and lamentations.
Let us turn to them today with a heartfelt prayer for the Russian land and for the salvation of our souls, that they might by their prayers implore for us the mercy and grace of God: All saints of our land, pray to God for us! Amen.