Post-Schism Russian Orthodox Saints (Fr. Joseph Schweigl)

Originally posted 11/2/2010.

Here is some information from Fr. Joseph Schweigl, “Menologio graeco-slavico post annum 1054,” Periodica de re morali, canonica, liturgica 3 (Rome 1941): 221-228, together with some necessary corrections.

This post shall be substantially revised shortly.

Fr. Schweigl says Russia (Kievan Rus’) was a Catholic nation from the conversion of Grand Prince St. Vladimir the Great (r. 980-1015), the Equal to the Apostles (July 15) in 988 until 1104{1} (she was in fact Catholic into the early 13th century, as proved by Fr. Joseph Koncevicius), and that Russia was mostly in schism from the Catholic Church from 1104 to 1461,{2} and that all 11th century Russian metropolitans were Catholic, some 12th century metropolitans were Catholic, all 13th century metropolitans were of suspect faith, no 14th century metropolitan was certainly Catholic, and around the time of the Council of Florence, Russia was split into a Catholic part and an Orthodox part, with the Catholic part lasting as late as 1520.{3}

Fr. Schweigl says that when there is nothing against dogma,{4} the Church can make prudent decisions to include post-schism saints in the martyrology without reaching strictly scientific certainty as to the Catholic faith of the people in question,{5} but based on a moral certainty.{6} Is this accurate? It would seem not. For someone to be canonized, he must have practiced certain publicly knowable heroic virtues for a certain period of time (faith, hope, charity, etc.). Solemn canonizations are infallible. Do these inclusions of post-schism “saints” meet the criteria for infallibility? What kind of assent is due to them?


The formal motive of faith is that “God himself, the infallible truth, who can neither deceive nor be deceived, has revealed [the truths of the faith] to the holy [Catholic] Church, and that the Church teaches us these truths,” and Eastern Orthodox Christians do not have faith because they do not have this motive (cf. (St. Alphonsus, Exercise of the Missions, the Little Catechism, p. 158). Rejecting in principle union with the lawful successor of St. Peter on the terms defined by the Church, Eastern Orthodox Christians do not have charity. “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6), “and if I should distribute all my goods to feed the poor, and if I should deliver my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:3). “No one, let his almsgiving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pour out his blood for the Name of Christ, can be saved, unless he remain within the bosom and the unity of the Catholic Church” (Council of Florence, Denzinger 714). While the men who died before the early 13th century were from the time when Kievan ‘Rus was still Catholic, what about the men after that when the area fell away from the Church? If they spent time in Eastern Orthodoxy (and therefore outside the Church), then at the hour of their death if they had at least “seen the truth of the Catholic faith, be[en] truly sorry for [their] sins, and sincerely desire[d] to die a good Catholic” [Fr. Michael Müller, Familiar Explanation of Christian Doctrine III (New York, Catholic Publication Society, 1875), 108], they could have been saved: “man seeth those things that appear, but the Lord beholdeth the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7),{7} and “the just man, if he be prevented with death, shall be in rest” (Wisdom 4:7).{8} But this does not do for someone who is to be honored with public worship. So long as these men were Eastern Orthodox and not Catholic they had no virtue of faith or charity, much less heroic virtue. Are there any miracles attributed to them that would qualify as major miracles?{9}

According to Fr. Alphonse Raes, S.J., in a 12/21/1934 motu proprio, Pope Pius XI of Rome (who I hope to see canonized in our lifetime) commissioned the Sacred Congregation for the Oriental Church to publish liturgical books for Russian Catholics (AAS 1935:66), and the first edition of the Russian Catholic liturgy of St. John Chrysostom approved by the Vatican and published in Rome, Typographie de Grottaferrata 1940, In-8º, 112 pages,{10} omits Peter of Moscow (1308-1326), Alexis of Moscow (1354-1378), Jonah of Moscow (1448-1461), and Philip II of Moscow (1566-1568) because the first two were consciously dependent on the Constantinople Patriarch when he was clearly in formal schism from Rome, and the latter two knowingly and deliberately rejected the Ecumenical Council of Florence.{11}  Fr. Raes theorizes that men like Nicetas of Novgorod (†1108), Leontius of Rostov (†1077), Barlaam of Khutyn (†1192), and Sergius of Radonezh (†1392) were left in because they did not express schismatic sentiments, but it’s very hard to understand why Sergius was left in and is now also included in the 2004 Roman Martyrology. Sergius of Radonezh was in communion{12} with and almost took the place of the Orthodox Metropolitan Alexis of Kiev (1354-1378) when the latter died;{13} Alexis was omitted from the 1940 calendar because of his conscious dependence on the anti-Catholic Patriarchs Callistus and Philotheus of Constantinople, and was indeed anti-Catholic himself.{14} Furthermore, one of the reasons Sergius accomplished the reform of monastic life along cenobitical guidelines at the Monastery of the Holy Trinity in 1354 was “a personal letter of recommendation of this course from … Philotheus.”{15} Unlike Gregory Palamas, however, Sergius of Radonezh did not leave any anti-Catholic writings or speeches–he left no writings at all.{16} There is only an apocryphal tradition, recorded by Dimitry of Rostov, that Sergius posthumously appeared to Symeon of Suzdal and Thomas of Tver and told them to join the infamous Metropolitan Mark Eugenikos of Ephesus in his rejection of the Ecumenical Council of Florence.{17}

All you Russian saints, pray for the conversion of Russia to the one true faith, and that the Pope may bring about this conversion by fulfilling the request of Our Lady of Fátima! Pray for me, the worst of sinners. Amen.
Notes & References
{1} Fr. Schweigl, p. 222.
{2} Ibid.
{3} Ibid. pp. 222-223, citing PELESCH, Geschichte der Union der ruthenischen Kirche mit Rom (1888) vol. I 169 ss, 418 ss, 571 ss; cf. LEIB, Rome, Kiev et Byzance a la fin du XI siècle (1088-1099), 1924.”
{4} Ibid. p. 224.
{5} The following saints appear in the list of saints of the Roman calendar that the Servant of God Pope Paul VI approved in 1969:
1. St. Sava of Serbia (January 14) [1174-1237]
2. St. Nicetas of Novgorod (January 31) [†1108]
3. St. John the Martyr of Vilnius (April 14) [†1342]
4. St. Anthony the Martyr of Vilnius (April 14) [†1342]
5. St. Eustace the Martyr of Vilnius (April 14) [†1342]
6. St. Stephen the Enlightener of Perm (April 26) [1340-1396]
7. St. Stephen Pechersky (April 27) [†1094]
8. St. Cyril of Turov (April 28) [1130-1182]
9. St. Ignatius of Rostov (April 28) [†1288]
10. St. Isaiah the Wonderworker of Rostov (May 15) [†1090]
11. St. Euphrosyne of Polotsk (May 23) [†1173]
12. St. Leontius of Rostov (May 23) [†1077]
13. St. Nicetas the Wonderworker of Pereaslavl (May 24) [†1186]
14. St. German of Valaam (June 28) [†?]
15. St. Sergius of Valaam (June 28) [†?]
16. St. Anthony of the Kiev Caves (July 10) [983-1073]
17. St. Theodosius of the Kiev Caves (July 10)
18. St. Theodore the Black of Yaroslavl (September 19) [†1299]
19. St. David of Yaroslavl (September 19) [†1299]
20. St. Constantine of Yaroslavl (September 19) [†1299]
21. St. Michael the Martyr, Wonderworker of Chernigov (September 21) [†1246]
22. St. Theodore the Martyr, Wonderworker of Chernigov (September 21) [†1246]
23. St. Sergius the Wonderworker of Radonezh (September 25) [1314-1392]
24. St. Abraham the Wonderworker of Rostov (October 29) [†1073]
25. St. Barlaam of Khutyn (November 6) [†1193]
The following saints appear on the Ruthenian calendar of “the Byzantine Ruthenian Metropolitan Church of Pittsburgh”:
26. Gregory Palamas of Thessalonica (Second Sunday of Great Lent) [1296-1359]
27. St. Parasceva Petca the New of Tarnovo (October 14) [†1201?]
{6} Fr. Schweigl, p. 228.

{7} St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica III, q. 68, art. 2, “Whether a man can be saved without Baptism?” <>.

{8} St. Ambrose of Milan, Funeral Oration for Emperor Valentinian II

{9} Cf. “On-Non-Catholic Miracles.”
{10} Fr. Alphonse Raes, S.J. “La première édition romaine de la liturgie de S. Jean Chrysostome en staroslave,” Orientalia christiana periodica 7 (1941): 518.
{11} Op. cit., p. 521.

{12} Butler’s Lives of the Saints, Complete Edition, ed., rev. and supp. by Herbert J. Thurston, S.J. and Donald Attwater, vol. 3: July, August, September (Westminster, MD: Christian Classics, 1990), 642.
{13} P. Roche, “Sergius of Radonezh, St.,” New Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 13, 2nd ed. (Detroit: Gale, 2003), 16.
{14} Mgr. Julian Pelesz, Geschichte der Union der ruthenischen Kirche mit Rom, vol. 1 (Würzburg: Woerl, 1881), 348 <>.
{15} Thurston and Attwater, loc. cit.
{16} Roche, loc. cit.
{17} Dimitry of Rostov, “The Twenty-Fifth Day of the Month of September: The Life of Or Holy Monastic Father Sergius, Abbot of Radonezh and New Wonder-worker,” The Great Collection of the Lives of the Saints, vol. 1: September <;. Cf. David B. Miller, Saint Sergius of Radonezh, His Trinity Monastery, and the Formation of the Russian Identity (DeKalb, IL: Northern Illinois University Press, 2010), 68-70, 75.



3 Responses to Post-Schism Russian Orthodox Saints (Fr. Joseph Schweigl)

  1. […] Here is what I posted: The issue [re:veneration of post-schism Orthodox saints] is the doubt as to whether many of these men on the calendars were Catholic, since, as Dr. Ludwig Ott says, the proposition “Membership of the Church is necessary for all men for salvation” is De fide (Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, 1957 edition, p. 310), that is, necessary to believe with divine and Catholic faith under pain of automatic excommunication (CIC 751; 1364 §1). If someone were to knowingly and deliberately refuse to become Catholic before death, he would die a formal schismatic who is not a member of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church either “in re” or even “in voto” via explicit or implicit desire. If the Church is able to come to a moral certainty (not necessarily a scientific certainty) that the person in question died a fully incorporated member of the Catholic Church (CCC 837) or died desiring to become Catholic (even after a long period of anti-Catholicism), she can approve veneration of such saints. […]

  2. […] following are labeled as saints: *Metropolitan Alexis of Moscow [r. 1354-1378] (15) – omitted from Russian Catholic Liturgy in 1940 *Euphrosyne of Polotsk [†1173] (187; mentioned in XIII:1148) *Bishop Euthymius of Novgorod […]

  3. […] of Kiev (Moscow as of 1325) (1308-1326): Catholic, then Orthodox -omitted from 1940 Russian Catholic Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom -Andrew Shipman: “Peter, Metropolitan of Kieff, who was then in union with Rome, in 1316 […]

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