Remembering St. John Maximovitch
Thanks to Fr. John Whiteford’s blog, I came across some 1991 reminiscences of St. John Maximovitch by Bishop Peter (Loukianoff), who served with him in San Francisco. The whole thing is worth reading by those with an interest in this great Saint, whose relics now bless our country by their presence. Bishop Peter states strongly that many of Vladika’s eccentricities have been overstated, at the expense of his sobriety, humility and care for his episcopal responsibilities.
A few tidbits follow.
Vladika had supper before midnight, after which he would go to his room to rest. He ate everything from one plate, with one soup spoon, always holding his prayer rope and reciting the Jesus Prayer. Sometimes he used chopsticks…
From the day of his monastic tonsure, Vladika slept in a sitting position. As a result he had swollen legs and it was painful for him to wear proper shoes, so he wore sandals. At home, in his cell, or when he served at St. Tikhon’s he often went barefoot — not for the sake of foolishness-for-Christ, but because it was easier on his feet.
Abbess Theodora, the late superior of Lesna Convent in France, told how once when Vladika was visiting the convent one of his legs gave him great pain, and she called a doctor, who prescribed rest in bed. Vladika thanked her for her solicitude but refused to lie in bed; nothing could persuade him. “Then,” related Matushka, “I myself don’t know how I was so bold, but I said to him bluntly, ‘Vladika, as the abbess of this convent, by the power given me by God, I order you to lie down.’” Vladika looked with surprise at the abbess, and went and lay down. The next morning, however, he was in church for Matins, and that was the end of the “course of treatment”.
I will cherish the image of St John eating his late-night supper with a prayer rope in one hand and chopsticks in the other.
Holy Father John, pray for us!