When, in 1917, Patriarch Tikhon accepted his election to the
patriarchal throne, he did so in humble submission to the will of God,
knowing full well that he was being handed a bitter cup: the throne was
his Cross and the white patriarch's hood - his crown of thorns. For 7
years he daily endured the suffering which fell to him as to the head
of the Russian Church during one of the most difficult periods in all
of her history. At first he called upon the faithful to resist the
communists - whom he anathematized as servants of Satan - and, if
necesary, to suffer martyrdom for the sake of Christ's truth. Then,
when the atheists gained control, he did everything in his power -
without compromising the truth - to reconcile the Church with the new
regime, humiliating himself to save others from humiliation. But the
aim of the communists was not reconciliation but extermination.
Unwilling to make a martyr of the Patriarch, they tried to demoralize him by murdering clergy everywhere and weaving about him a net of lies, slander and threats. Although he had the opportunity, and was even urged to flee abroad for his own safety, the Patriarch refused to abandon his flock, and for this he was rewarded by the undying love and devotion of the Russian people who felt in the Patriarch "one of their kind". On March 25, 1925, ill from exhaustion, the holy Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia died - of poisoning.
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