First finding of the relics of St Metrophanes the First Bishop of Voronezh

The Uncovering of the Relics of Saint Metrophanes, Bishop of Voronezh (1832): The memory of the deep piety and pastoral virtues of St Metrophanes (Macarius, in the schema) was revered at Voronezh from the time of his death (November 23, 1703). His successors, the Voronezh hierarchs, considered it their sacred duty to make annual remembrance of the first hierarch of their flock, together with his parents, the priest Basil and Maria.

The people of Voronezh and its environs came to the Annunciation cathedral, where memorial services were offered at his tomb. Contributing to the intense remembrance of St Metrophanes was also his dying request that prayers be said for him. For this purpose the saint, even during his lifetime, had built a chapel at the cathedral in honor of the holy Archangel Michael (his patron saint), and in it a special priest served the Liturgy. Although succeeding generations did not know the saint, they also revered his memory.

The veracity of the sainthood of the first hierarch of the Voronezh diocese was also confirmed by his incorrupt relics, attested during their repeated transfers from one temple to another. In the year 1718, Metropolitan Pachomius of Voronezh, about to begin the construction of a new cathedral, gave orders to demolish the old Annunciation cathedral. The body of St Metrophanes was temporarily transferred into the church of the Unburnt Bush. In 1735, the body of St Metrophanes was transferred into the new cathedral, during which time the incorrupt state of his relics was again observed. At the place of the burial of the saint, panikhidas were customarily served for him.

By 1820 it was noticed that the number of those venerating St Metrophanes and thronging to Voronezh, had extraordinarily increased. Grace-filled signs also increased. Archbishop Anthony II of Voronezh made repeated reports to the Holy Synod about the miracles, and he petitioned for a resolution for the glorification of the saint. The Holy Synod then prescribed that records be kept of miracles at the grave of St Metrophanes. In the year 1831, after seeing the incorrupt body of the saint, Archbishop Anthony together with commission members of the Holy Synod, Archbishop Eugenius of Yaroslavl and Archimandrite Hermogenes of the Moscow Savior-Androniev monastery, became convinced in the miraculous intercession of St Metrophanes before the Throne of God. The Holy Synod then issued its resolution adding St Metrophanes to the ranks of the Saints. Since then, the Russian Church celebrates the memory of the saint twice during the year: November 23, the day of his repose, and August 7, the day of his glorification.

Archbishop Anthony II (1827-1846) established in the Voronezh also the following feastdays in honor of St Metrophanes: June 4, the Feast of his namesake St Metrophanes, Patriarch of Constantinople; April 2, the saint’s day of consecration as bishop in 1682; and December 11, the day of the transfer of the relics of St Metrophanes in 1831.

St Metrophanes left behind a Spiritual Testament. Its original is preserved in the State Historical Museum. Upon the testament is the unique authoritative signature of the saint: “This spiritual dictate is attested to by me... Bishop Metrophanes of Voronezh.”

On the lower cover (inside) is an inscription from the eighteenth century: “This is the book of testament or last will of the Voronezh schemamonk Macarius, written in the God-saved city of Voronezh, in the house of His Grace the bishop and schemamonk Macarius, who reposed in the month of November on the 23rd day in the year 1703, and was buried on the 4th day of December.”

On the day preceding the Uncovering of the Relics of St Metrophanes, Archbishop Anthony of Voronezh went to church, so as to lay out the new vestments prepared for the relics. Suddenly, he felt so weak that he was barely able to go about his cell. Troubled by this, he sat and pondered and then he heard a quiet voice: “ Do not transgress my legacy.”

This he did not understand right away, and instead thinking about his own plans, he gathered up his strength and opened the closet where the vestments were, and there he caught sight of the monastic schema, brought shortly before this by an unknown monk who had entrusted it to him and said that it soon would be needed.

Seeing this monastic schema, the hierarch then realized that the words, “Do not transgress my legacy,” was actually the will of St Metrophanes, that they not place upon his relics bishop’s vestments, but rather to clothe them in the schema. By this and by his extreme humility, he indicated the deep spiritual connection with his patronal saint (in schema), St Macarius of Unzhensk.