Bishops are deciding whether Aleksandr Suvorov will be formally considered for glorification
The Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) is debating whether it should proceed with a proposal to beatify celebrated 18th-century Russian general Aleksandr Suvorov. The search for evidence of miracles associated with the highly popular military commander has been underway for years.
The issue was put on the agenda of the meeting of the governing body of the church, the Holy Synod, which started on Thursday in St. Petersburg. The bishops will decide whether to task a special commission with reviewing Suvorov’s case, according to Patriarch Kirill, who chaired the gathering.
FILE PHOTO: An icon depicting Aleksandr Suvorov as a saint in a village church in Russia’s Vladimir Region. © Sputnik / Sergey Pyatakov
Suvorov, one of the most respected military leaders in Russian history, is credited with many of the battlefield triumphs of the Russian Empire under Catherine the Great and her son Paul I. He was also a devout Christian and even considered becoming a monk during a period of royal disfavor and exile after Paul’s accession to the throne.
The new monarch, who was infamously estranged from his mother for both personal and political reasons, overturned many of her policies and generally disliked her former courtiers and statesmen. However, Suvorov’s clout and skill ultimately won over the tsar and brought the general into his trust.
‘Suvorov Crossing the Alps’ by Vasily Surikov
In 2001, the ROC glorified Admiral Fyodor Ushakov, a contemporary of Suvorov, as a locally venerated saint and righteous layman. After his retirement in 1807, the childless fleet commander retreated to a small village far from the capital and, according to the records of a nearby monastery, spent much of his life in worship and almsgiving.
Those supporting sainthood for Suvorov have been arguing for decades that the general deserves similar treatment. However, more conservative priests have urged caution.
“One of the challenges in canonization is the creation of a myth… when valorization of a good person replaces glorification,” a spokesman for the ROC noted a few years ago, explaining the lengthy process.
To make a decision in favor of sainthood, the ROC will require evidence of miracles happening after Suvorov’s death in response to people praying for his intercession.
Incidentally, this week the ROC announced taking charge of the historic church in St. Petersburg where Suvorov’s remains are buried. It was the first stone church in the city, it has long been part of a museum, and it is considered an important part of Russia’s cultural heritage.
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