Icon of St Philip
Bishop, monk and martyr. Born in Moscow in 1507, Theodore Kolyshov was a wealthy nobleman, who probably saw active military service in his youth. At the age of 30 he joined the monastery of Solovetsk on the White Sea, and took the name of Philip. He became abbot there in 1547. Saint Philip became a distinguished religious superior. He was also a fine engineer and devised a new system of drainage and irrigation for the monastic lands.
In 1565 he was elected metropolitan of Moscow and head of the Russian church. This placed him in direct conflict with Czar Ivan the Terrible who resented the church's power. In 1566 the Czar ordered the massacre of some political leaders. When Philip remonstrated with him privately over this, the Czar fell into a rage. As the killings went on, a few months later Philip openly criticised his behaviour.
During Eucharistic liturgy at Moscow Cathedral, he said: "At this altar we are offering a pure and bloodless sacrifice for men's salvation. Outside the holy temple the blood of innocent Christians is being shed. God rejects him who does not love his neighbour. I have to tell you this though I die for it."
The massacres continued and St Philip kept up his protests. Eventually Ivan succeeded in accusing Philip of sorcery and corrupt living, and had him dragged in chains from one place of confinement to another.
In 1569, two days before Christmas at the Otrosh monastery near Tver, he was smothered to death by an agent of the Czar.
After his martyrdom, monks from Solovki Monastery asked for permission to transfer the body of St Philip to their monastery. When they opened up the tomb they found the body of the hierarch was incorrupt, and various healings began to be reported. The transfer of his remains from Tver to the Solovki Monastery took place in 1590.
In 1652, Patriarch Nikon persuaded Tsar Alexis to bring Philip's relics to Moscow, where he was glorified (proclaimed a saint) later that same year. His memory is celebrated three times a year:
St Philip was canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1636.