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Jonah of Moscow

Synaxis of the Hierarchs of Moscow
Our father among the saints Jonah (+ 1461?), also Jonas, was the Metropolitan of Moscow and of All Russia between 1448 and 1461. He is also called the Wonderworker. He was metropolitan during the times that the princes of Moscow gained influence and power at the same time the Church of Constantinople fell under the rule of the Ottoman Turks. The Church remembers him on March 31 and June 15, the translation of his relics on May 27 and as a member of the Synaxis of the Hierarchs of Moscow on October 5 .


Saint Jonah was born in the city of Galich into a pious Christian family. The date of his birth is not known. His father was named Theodore. He was tonsured as a monastic in one of the Galich monasteries when he was only twelve years old.

In the late 1420s, Jonah transferred to the Simonov Monastery, where he again fulfilled various obediences for many years. He was close to Metropolitan Photius, who consecrated him Bishop of Ryazan and Murom. After Photius died in 1431, Grand Prince Vasili II (the Sightless) nominated Jonah for the position of metropolitan of Moscow, a position that required confirmation by the Patriarch of Constantinople, Patriarch Joseph II. Jonas was delayed in his journey to Constantinople until the end of 1435 by Vasili's war with the appanage princes

In the meantime, Isidore of Kiev had already been established as Metropolitan of Moscow by the Ecumenical Patriarch. After initially being accepted in Moscow and promising Vasili to be true to Orthodoxy, Isidore traveled, in 1438, to Florence, Italy to attend the Council of Florence. During the council, Isidore supported Catholicism and the re-unification of the Eastern and Western Churches. After returning to Moscow, as a papal legate, he substituted in the liturgy the name of the Pope in place of the name of the Patriarch. He was arrested immediately, but escaped and fled to Rome, where he died in 1462. . In 1443, a council of Russian bishops condemned the union with Rome and deposed Isidore. Archbishop Jonah was again chosen Metropolitan. Jonah was consecrated, on December 15, 1448, by Russian hierarchs in Moscow, ending administrative dependence of the Russian Church on Constantinople. This was the first time that Russian bishops consecrated their own metropolitan. This signified establishment of autocephaly for the Russian Orthodox Church. Metr. Jonah received the Patriarch's approval only after Constantinople's collapse in 1453. In 1451, Jonah took under his control the see in Kiev and its the Lithuanian diocese.

In 1451, the Tatars unexpectedly advanced on Moscow. Metr. Jonah led a procession along the walls of the city, petitioning God to save the city and the people. Seeing the dying monk Anthony of the Chudov monastery, who was noted for his virtuous life, St Jonah said, "My son and brother Anthony! Pray to the merciful God and the All-Pure Mother of God for the deliverance of the city and for all Orthodox Christians."

The humble Anthony replied, "Great hierarch! We give thanks to God and to His All-Pure Mother. She has heard your prayer and has prayed to Her Son. The city and all Orthodox Christians will be saved through your prayers. The enemy will soon take flight. The Lord has ordained that I alone am to be killed by the enemy." Just as the elder said this, an enemy arrow struck him. The prediction of Elder Anthony was made on July 2, on the Feast of the Placing of the Robe of the Most Holy Theotokos.

Confusion broke out among the Tatars, and they fled in terror. In his courtyard, St Jonah built a church in honor of the Placing of the Robe of the Most Holy Theotokos to commemorate the deliverance of Moscow.

Metr. Jonah reposed in the year 1461. In 1472, the incorrupt relics of Metr. Jonah were uncovered and moved to a place in the Dormition Cathedral in the Moscow Kremlin. In 1547, a local council of the Russian church established the commemoration of Jonah, Metropolitan of Moscow, as a saint. In 1596, St Jonah was added by Patriarch Job to the Synaxis of the Moscow Hierarchs.



  • Bernard Pares, A History of Russia, London, Jonathan Cape, 1955
  • Nicholas V. Riasanovsky, A History of Russia, New York, Oxford University Press, 1977

See also

Succession box:
Jonah of Moscow
Preceded by:
Isidore the Apostate
Metropolitan of Moscow and all Russia
Succeeded by:
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