St John (Maximovitch) the Wonderworker

St John was born Michael Maximovitch on 4 June 1896, in the little Russian town of Adamovka, and was a good and obedient child. He entered law school in 1918, but spent all his spare time reading the lives of the saints. In 1926 he was tonsured a monk, receiving the name John in honour of his relative, the recently glorified St John of Tobolsk. In 1929 he became a seminary teacher, where the students revered him for his prayer, fasting and extraordinary knowledge of Holy Scripture. They were the first to notice that he never lay down to sleep, and when he did doze off it was only from sheer exhaustion and often during a prostration before the ikons. The Saint prayed zealously for his students. Each night he would make his rounds, blessing them all as they slept with the sign of the cross.

In 1934, St John was made bishop of Shanghai in China. There he oversaw the completion of the cathedral, along with the construction of churches, a hospital, an asylum, an orphanage and a home for the elderly. No matter where he was he did not skip Church services, often remaining in Church for several hours afterwards, but he also visited the sick daily. From this time date accounts of miracles worked by the bishop, as well as of his gift of clairvoyance.  At the end of the 1940s, the communists forced Russians in China to become refugees in the Philippine Islands. Although fierce hurricanes were common, they camped for 27 months in safety due to St John’s nightly blessings, but the encampment was swept to the ground immediately after he negotiated their relocation to America.

In 1951, St John was sent to Western Europe, where he spent time living in London, and then San Francisco in 1962 where he oversaw the completion of a beautiful new cathedral dedicated to the Ikon of the Mother of God, Joy of All Who Sorrow. Through the machinations of the Evil One, parishioners and even clergy were stirred to invent false allegations against St John, even taking him to a secular court, all of which he endured with great humility.  Throughout this time, he still hardly slept, eating only once daily, spending most of his time in prayer, and working countless miracles.

On 19 July 1966, in Seattle, the Saint peacefully left this world before the Wonderworking Kursk (Root) Ikon of the Mother of God. There was a very special atmosphere at his funeral, and those present were devoutly convinced they had come to bury a saint. In 1993, his tomb was opened, and his body was discovered to be still whole and incorrupt, and that same year he was declared to be a saint in heaven. Today, just as during his life, Saint John continues to perform miracles and healings for those who turn to him with faith.

Like a spiritual daystar in heaven’s firmament, thou didst encompass the whole world and didst enlighten men’s souls.
Hence, thy name is glorified in the East and West,
for thou shone with the grace of the Sun of Righteousness,
O John, our beloved shepherd. Wherefore, cease not to entreat Christ,
that he may have mercy on our souls.

Troparion to Saint John the Wonderworker


Ikon of St John the Wonderworker by Leon Liddament at our church


Vladika St John smiling