Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco

Eastern Orthodox ascetic (1896-1966)

Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco, or St. John the Wonderworker, also known as Vladika Maximovitch, John Maximovitch, (4 June 1896 – 2 July 1966), was a prominent Eastern Orthodox ascetic and hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) who was active in the mid-20th century. He was a pastor and spiritual father of high reputation and a reputed wonderworker to whom were attributed great powers of prophecy, clairvoyance and healing.

St. John the Wonderworker (1934)
Archbishop John Maximovitch

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  • How difficult is to please you people. I celebrate too long and he too short!
  • Sanctity is not just a virtue. It is an attainment of such spiritual height, that the abundance of God’s grace which fills the saint overflows on all who associate with him. Great is the saint’s state of bliss in which they dwell contemplating the Glory of God. Being filled with love for God and man, they are responsive to man’s needs, interceding before God and helping those who turn to them.

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Memories of the Living Saint John and Testimonials On Occasion of the Twenty Fifth Year Anniversary of His Glorification, (29 June 2019) edit

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  • Many were aware that it was not necessary to ask Vladika to visit someone. The Lord Himself inspired him where and to whom to go.
  • We would go to Vladika to get his blessing before exams. One time I went and he said, “Why are you asking for my blessing, you didn’t study, go away.” How he knew that is a mystery to me, but I knew that I would do miserably, and I did.
  • His incredible, self imposed, ascetic restriction on sleeping in bed was known to many. For 44 years of his monastic life, he slept for 4 or 5 hours per night sitting in his chair.
  • If he was in his room and you wanted to see him, you didn’t just knock and wait for him to respond. What you did was knock and say “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us”, and when he responded with an “Amen”, you walked in.
  • As an Altar Attendant... observing, especially during Eucharist, the intensity and power of his praying was spell binding. It seemed to me that he was not standing on the floor, but elevated. I mentioned this to others, and they agreed. St John was not a big man physically, but when he blessed the bread and wine, at that moment, making the Sign of the Cross over the Challis and Discus (plate) as required, he would thump the Altar Table, as he made the Sign. He could not have reached so far without being elevated. Recalling it now, I still get chills.
  • A moleben was sung, after which Vladika, standing before a lectern, was delivering a sermon. I was standing next to my mother, and we both saw a light surrounding Vladika down to the lectern — a radiance around him a foot wide. This lasted a rather long time. When the sermon was over, I, struck by such an unusual phenomenon, told what we had seen to our friend, who replied to us: `Yes, many faithful saw it.'
  • We Altar Attendants really liked going to other churches when they had their church’s holiday... Typically, the hosts never thought of sitting us. When Vladika was urged to take his place, he would ask the person in charge of the banquet ‘Where are my Altar Attendants sitting?’ Typically they would be slightly embarrassed and say something ‘Oh, we’ll find them a place in the kitchen’ or more often than not, just say ‘We don’t have a place for them’. At that time, Vladika would say that he is not sitting down until his Altar Attendants are seated. Then a slight panic would ensue, as people scrambled for an extra table and some chairs. We loved that scene, and very much appreciated Vladika’s loyalty and concern.

Archbishop John the Wonderworker, Bishop Alexander (Mileant) (2001) edit

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  • You demand proofs, you say that now there are neither miracles nor saints. Why should I give you theoretical proofs, when today there walks in the streets of Paris a Saint — Saint Jean Nus Pieds (Saint John the Barefoot).
  • Sometimes during our conversation it seemed to me that he dozed. But when I stopped, he would immediately say: “Continue, I hear you.”
  • After services he would smile and joke with the boys who served with him, playfully knocking the refractory on the head with his staff. Occasionally the Cathedral clergy would be disconcerted to see Vladika, in the middle of a service (though never in the altar), bend over to play with a small child! And on feast days when blessing with holy water was called for, he would sprinkle the faithful, not on the top of the head as is usual, but right in the face (which once led a small girl to exclaim, "he squirts you"), with a noticeable glint in his eye and total unconcern at the discomfiture of some of the more dignified.

The Price of Sanctity, Memories of Archbishop John Maximovitch, by Abbot Herman (1998) edit

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  • The biggest surprise, however, came during the procession around the church with the blessing of the water. When he would sprinkle the holy water, he would aim mostly at his altar boys, dousing them. The boys felt themselves to be the center of attention, and were elated to be thus sanctified by their beloved archpastor.
  • While being unconcerned with matters of jurisdictions, Archbishop John was ruthless and intolerant towards Clergy who were lax and indifferent in matters of spiritual integrity. For this he was hated to such an extent that there was even an attempt to poison him during Pascha, and he barely survived. This intolerance towards Archbishop John stemmed mostly from envy and jealousy.
  • The chapter of St. Tikhon's Orphanage has never been written. The amazing way in which Blessed John gathered and fed the children requires an able writer to capture it for posterity. The children would be underfed, abused and frightened, until Archbishop John would come and very often take them personally into his orphanage and school. Each child and there were over three thousand who went through the orphanage had a traumatic story.
  • The persecution of Blessed John Maximovitch the Wonderworker did not end with his death. It is true that some trouble-makers repented and publicly wept, kissing the coffin when everyone was parting with the Saint. But his enviers continued to resent him, as they do even up till today, when it is politically convenient to pronounce him a saint. After his death some leaders in his Synod, having seen that he had ended triumphantly, decided to put a stop to the publishing of his miracles and memoirs about him, in order to conceal their deeds against him.
  • When he heard confessions, he did not make it a big thing... he called confession a "dusting off"... the layers of ungodly impressions which settle upon the soul automatically if the soul does not resist and preserve its freshness. After each confession from Archbishop John, which as I said was nothing extraordinary, I felt very enlightened, although I must confess I always feared him because I knew he clairvoyant.

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