Benjamin (Fedchenkov) of Saratov
Ivan Afanasevich Fedchenkov (Russian: Иван Афанасьевич Федченков) was born on September 14, 1880 in Kirsanov, Tambov Governorate, Russia. His parents, former serfs, gave both he and his sister, Dyachkov, the best education they could provide.
After he had graduated from the ecclesiastical school and theological seminary in Tambov, Ivan enrolled in the St. Petersburg Academy where he became an inspector. At the academy, Archimandrite (later bishop) Theodore asserted a great influence on Ivan, an influence he carried through his life in Russia as well as in the emigration. Upon completing his studies at the academy, Ivan took monastic vows and was tonsured and given the name Benjamin.
From 1910 to 1911, hieromonk Benjamin served as secretary to the Abp. Sergius (Stragorodsky). Between 1911 and 1913, having been raised to archimandrite, Benjamin served as the rector of the Taurichesky Seminary, followed by a similar assignment at the Tversky Seminary from 1913 to 1917. He then participated in the 1917-1918 Local Council of the Church of Russia. In February, Arch. Benjamin was consecrated bishop in Savastopol as vicar of the Tavrichesky diocese.
In 1920, Bp. Benjamin joined with the forces of the White army during the Russian Civil War with the Bolshevik regime. At the request of Baron P. N. Wrangel, Bp. Benjamin led the military clergy of the Russian army. In November 1920, Bp. Benjamin was among the army and refugees who fled their homeland as the Soviet forces gained superiority. He remained with the elements of the refugee army and navy in Constantinople until he moved to Serbia.
After arriving in Serbia, in 1922, he stayed at the St. Petkovitse Monastery near the Serbian town of Shabatsto. During 1923 and 1924, Bp. Benjamin was vicar bishop of a community in the Carpatho-Russian part of Czechoslovakia, until he was expelled by Czech authorities. He returned to Serbia where he managed two groups of cadets, taught theological courses, and was the prior at a Russian church.
Between 1925 and 1927, Bp. Benjamin took part in the establishment of St. Sergius Orthodox Theological Institute in Paris. In 1927, he broke ties with the White army leaders and signed the declaration of Acting Locum Tenens Sergius (Stragorodsky). He returned to St. Sergius Institute between 1929 and 1931.
In 1931, Bp. Benjamin attended a diocesan council meeting of clergy and laity that decided to transfer the Metropolis of Metr. Eulogius to the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarch. A group led by Bp. Benjamin refused to break loyalty with Metr. Sergius, left the Metropolis, and formed a parish on Rue Petel, dedicated to the three hierarchs, Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, and John Chrysostom. In an upper floor, Bp. Benjamin housed his printing press that was dedicated to Father John of Kronstadt.
In 1933, Bp. Benjamin was elevated to archbishop by Metr. Sergius of the Church of Russia. He was also, assigned to go to the United States to lecture. While in the United States he was appointed the interim exarch of the Moscow Patriarchate on November 22, 1933, in North America, with the title of Archbishop of Aleutians and North America. This position he held until 1947. On July 14, 1938 he was designated Metropolitan of the Aleutians and North America. Having arrived in the United States without any parishes to serve, he created 50 parishes during his tenure that he supervised with three vicars.
In January and February 1945, Metr. Benjamin visited the Soviet Union for the first time to participate in a Local Council of the Russian Church in Moscow. The purpose of his visit was to participate in the election of the new Patriarch following the repose of Patr. Sergius. The new patriarch elected was Metr. Alexei of Leningrad and Novgorod, whose name Metr. Benjamin had placed in nomination.
In 1947, Metr. Benjamin returned permanently to the Soviet Union, to an assignment as ruling hierarch of the Diocese of Riga and Latvia with the title of the Metropolitan of Riga and Latvia.
In 1951, he was assigned as the ruling hierarch of the Diocese of Rostov as Metropolitan of Rostov and Novocherkassk until, on February 8, 1954, his title was change to Metropolitan of Rostov and Kamensk.
On November 28, 1955, Metr. Benjamin became the ruling hierarch of the Diocese of Saratov as Metropolitan of Saratov and Balashov. On December 26, 1957, his title was changed to Metropolitan of Saratov and Volsk.
"There is the Providence of God in our revolution - partially already understandable and even more not yet revealed ... And so we must accept this authority - not only because it was accepted by the people".
"We constantly invent from our mind and do not read the word of God. Not only it is more needed and stronger than all the books and our thoughts, but as a sword it cuts through all and clearly separates the lies from the truth".
Elder John (Krestiankin) often used to say one phrase, which he heard from Metropolitan Benjamin: "we are all essentially superfluous, and no one needs us but God".
Benjamin (Fedchenkov) of Saratov
|Exarch of Aleutians and North America
|Metropolitan of Rostov and Novocherkassk/Kamensk
|Metropolitan of Saratov and Balashov/Volsk